(Ed. Note. Tiernan McKay is a new feature writer with TheGoal.com. This is her introductory piece)
On September 22, 2002, my husband Cody made his first big league appearance as a left-handed pinch hitter for the Oakland Athletics, a team for which his father, Dave, had been a player and a coach. After 761 games in the As farm system, he was about to realize a dream. He stepped up to the plate and began to settle in to his pre-hitting ritual when the Texas Rangers made a pitching change. A left-hander was brought in and Cody was called back to the dugout. So close
but not yet.
A week later Cody stepped up to the plate once again. This time, he finished the game with 2-hits and 2-RBIs.
That was last fall. This is spring. Just a few days ago, Cody and I stood in our living room surrounded by all of the clothes and belongings wed need for the entire baseball season. Somehow we were going to fit all everything into just four boxes. The next morning, our car would be heading east on an auto transport and four boxes are all that would fit in the back. As difficult as that was, we knew baseball families around the country were undergoing the same challenge.
When most people think of the nuts and bolts of a baseball players life, what comes to mind is often much different than reality. On the surface, it doesnt seem like a bad gig. You are paid to play a game and travel the country, stopping along the way to shake hands and sign autographs. Although a handful of players find legitimate security in baseball, the fact is that the majority of players, from rookie ball to the big leagues, have lives full of uncertainty.
Nobody knows this better than the wife of a ballplayer.
A Nomadic Life
Although I am thankful that my husband is blessed with an amazing talent and a job that he loves, the daily struggles of baseball can certainly test your resolve. One of the hardest parts of this life is not knowing your next step until right before you take it. A planner by nature, Ive learned to live without advance notice of any kind.
During the season, home is a relative term. Of course, home can change at any moment without anyone asking us how we feel about it. Fortunately, four boxes are never too far away.
In April, my little pocket game schedule is in pristine condition. By August, the edges are frayed and the folds are lined with tape. Every commitment we make, from doctor appointments to dinner with friends, must be approved by a schedule made by men well probably never meet.
When Cody is on the road, I enjoy plenty of one-sided conversations with our dog. Since our domestic responsibilities are divided in what you could call a traditional manner, leaky faucets goes on leaking until the next homestand and oil changes are not always right on schedule. Communication is also strained. Cody will call at night after a game only to find a mumbling and sleepy voice on the other end of the line. Ill call him in the morning when I wake up only to find Ive cut short a valuable opportunity for him to catch up on sleep.
The Vacation Myth
The months between the World Series and spring training can hardly be considered vacation for most players. Its usually a time to refuel, condition or recover. Cody has spent the last few seasons playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. This year, I went with him.
Although the Dominican is a beautiful country filled with wonderful people, it was difficult at times. I definitely would not want to drive there, but my lack of transportation confined me to a triangular path between the hotel, the gym and the coffee shop. I found plenty to complain about, such as the lack of familiar food to eat, the language barrier, the small amount of time I was able to spend with my husband and the inability to wash clothes whenever I needed to. However, these complaints were consumed by an imposing shadow of humility after a visit to a local childrens hospital.
Two days before Christmas, we hopped in a cab and headed to the other side of town. There we found three floors of stark concrete and linoleum housing countless children who suffered from a wide range of ailments. There was minimal sanitation and no air-conditioning. Some children had the comforting presence of a parent by their side. Others sat motionless and lonely. We handed out modest toys and blew bubbles that danced around the rooms and glistened in the afternoon sun. Id like to think that for a moment, those children focused on the floating bubbles rather than their pain. I will always remember the childrens eyes
sad, confused, desperate and innocent. Suddenly, the inconveniences of winter ball melted away as humility and appreciation simultaneously embraced my heart.
In Need of Provision
Although baseball can be exciting and certainly interesting, it can also be frustrating. Everyone is striving to make it to the big leagues yet nobody is sure theyll actually get there. Everyone is loaded with potential and hopes and dreams. Even when impressive numbers accompany all the potential, there is still a myriad of other factors impacting the path, including timing, player health, depth and the availability of opportunities. With all these factors swirling around, sometimes contentment is an unfamiliar face. When coping with unexplainable decisions, hitting slumps and injuries, negative feelings such as resentment or bitterness can easily slip under the skin. Thats when Cody and I find peace especially in our relationships with our Savior, Jesus Christ. We often remind each other to offer it up, knowing that everything we do rooted in the Kingdom of God.
Although baseball is a blessing, when all is said and done, Codys lifetime batting average will be no more than the answer to a trivia question. On the other hand, the life we live, the lives we touch and our relationship with the Lord will be important. Knowing this, I cheer from the wives section with complete confidence and a content heart. I am proud of Cody, not because he plays baseball, but because he is a Godly man, a lover of the Word and a witness to Christs promises.
Our life is not defined by baseball. Rather, it is a pebble in the path that leads to heaven. While our earthly treasures might fit into four cardboard boxes, our faith in God provides a bountiful peace and treasure that fills up our lives.