I’ll admit that like so many young boys in North America, I grew up with dreams of playing professional baseball as a career. I remember in the last 1980s, Sports Illustrated ran an issue that laid out the salaries of every player on Major League rosters. I was a little leaguer at the time and in my own mind, was one of the better players on my little league house team in Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada. Now Fredericton is not a hot bed of major league baseball talent, despite what Matt Stairs career numbers may suggest. And the truth is that I was playing for house league teams, not traveling, so I was not about to be discovered as a hidden talent at any stage of the process. But I had dreams and in my mind, I was on my way to the pros and there was no stopping me now!
However, of course, those dreams fell short of the mark – a truth that I am not alone in at all. So many with dreams and even legitimate shots of making it to the pros don’t see those dreams realized, so when someone DOES make it to the pros, it is really important that they have a strong support network to support their life as a professional baseball player. Now that support comes in many forms: nutritionists, personal trainers, financial advisors, marketing directors, and agents to name a few. But as in any walk of life, the strongest member of the professional athlete support network is the significant other. So a couple of years ago, for a Pittsburgh Pirates faith night, a video was created featuring the wives of a number of players and coaches. For those represented in the video, the support of their wife/girlfriend paired with their strong faith in God are vital parts of their success. check out the video below.
Here are the names of those featured in the video:
- Billie Jauss whose husband Dave is a member of the Pirates Coaching staff
- Lindsay Stewart whose husband Chris is a catcher for the Pirates
- Mary Catherine Melancon whose husband Mark is a pitcher now with the San Francisco Giants. I blogged about him a couple years ago. Check out that post here.
- Keli Alvarez, whose husband Pedro is an Designated Hitter, now playing for the Baltimore Orioles
- Maria McCutchen whose husband, Andrew is an outfielder for the Pirates. I blogged about him in my first year with this blog. Check out that post here.
The entire video is worth watching. Hearing these amazing women talk about life off the field, from moving from town to town, and not always being in control of when those moves happen (demotion or promotion around minor leagues, trades) and trying to raise a family in the midst of that chaos. That is a hard thing to imagine – and it is not just the kids that need to build new relationships. The wife also will have a new group of players wives that she will have to get to know as well.
I also appreciate the layers of conversation about the important place faith in God plays in their lives. With so much upheaval and uncertainty, it is important to have something strong and stable on which to lean. That, for these women, is their faith in God and the shared faith that they have with their husbands.
Here are my takeaways from these stories:
1 – God never leaves us, even if we leave Him – Billie Jauss shares about how her marriage with he husband Dave was in trouble. They had grown apart, they had even separated. In a session with a councilor, she was asked when she felt the most at peace in her life. She said it was when she was heavily involved with her church. She was advised to get back into church and in doing so, she returned to her faith in God. Dave noticed a difference and wanted to know more about her faith and about God. I love that even when life comes and we get distracted from following God, He is always near. This is true for all of us. We turn away from Him, we pursue our own plans and desires. But when things go different than we planned. or when we realize that we can’t do this on our own, He is there to welcome us back to Him.
2- Cord of 3 strands – Ecclesiastes 4 has a verse that is often used in wedding ceremonies. It says “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Keli Alvarez spoke of how she and Pedro are strong in their own faiths, but also support each other and try to be strong and overt in their demonstrations of faith when hard times come along. This is how it is supposed to work. We work together, depending on God’s strength to help us and pointing constantly to Him as our provider and our strength.
3- Making the effort – There are some pieces in place for the baseball players and their wives to be intentional in growing in faith as well as supporting each other. Baseball Chapel is an organization that puts on chapel services for major league teams – home and away and even umpires – on Sundays at the ball fields. And these women talked about the wives bible study where they pour into each others lives, support each other and learn from God’s word together. In what ways are you connecting with God and his people to gain strength and support to strengthen your faith as you navigate through this life. Let’s be intentional to work on our faith. Like a muscle, it grows when we exercise it.
And I want to say also how glad I am to have an amazing wife that is the strongest part of my support network. I am honored to be doing life with her. When life has brought hard things, her focus on God and consistency of faith has been amazing to see. We have definitely leaned on that third cord many times and He shows Himself to be worthy of our trust and faith.