It’s the dream of many young boys to play baseball in the major leagues. But the lifestyle of a professional ballplayer can be difficult for their wives and families.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ wives created a video to share their experience in learning how to support, encourage, and walk alongside their husbands through the challenges and excitement of life in the major leagues.
In the span of his twenty-eight-year career in professional baseball, Dave Jauss played on six different teams. His wife Billie had to learn to be ready to pick up and move whenever they were called. This is pretty much the norm for baseball wives.
“I stopped counting cities after twenty or so,” says Lindsey Stewart, wife of Pirates catcher, Chris Stewart.
Between instances of being called up or sent down during Spring Training and trades, Lindsey has picked up and moved with Chris up to four times in a single season.
Billie Jauss admits that this lifestyle has been taxing on her and on her marriage.
“We did everything we were told to do as a married couple, but we grew apart,” Billie regrets. “I grew one way with the kids, he grew another way with his career.”
Billie and Dave ended up separating for a year. During counseling, Billie was asked when was the time that she felt the most peace in life. The answer was, “in church.” So she went back.
Billie grew up in the church and had placed her trust in Jesus during high school. But over time, she walked away from her faith. As Billie began to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ again, Dave took notice and wanted that same peace.
“Christ saved our marriage,” says Billie with joy in her eyes.
While many marriages struggle living life in the major leagues, many couples learn to use these challenges to strengthen their faith in God and support of each other.
“It’s been such a blessing to be married to someone who shares my faith,” reflects Keli Alvarez, wife of Pirates first baseman, Pedro. “When Christ is the foundation of your relationship, even when you are having a hard time between you, you have an accountability and a foundation to go back to.”
Maria McCutchen and her new husband, Pirates center fielder Andrew, come from differing faith backgrounds: One Protestant, the other Catholic. The two of them have learned to mesh aspects of the different traditions with Christ at the center. Maria is growing closer to God and to her husband through the process.
“Andrew and I do devotions together at home,” says Maria, “and we’ll have long conversations about our love for the Lord. That really helps us to revert back to what’s important in our faith and in our life.”
The challenges can be even more intense for couples who have children. These kids need to adjust to new schools and new friends in a new city at any point.
“We don’t always get to control where we’ll be,” says Mary Catherine Melancon, wife of Pirates pitcher Mark, “but what he and I try to do is to make sure our faith values and our family values remain constant. Regardless of where we are, we make sure to stay consistent in our prayer life with our children and our prayer life with each other.”
One way these women draw strength and encouragement in their faith is by meeting with other Christian baseball wives who are able to support and relate to each other.
“It’s so uplifting,” says Maria McCutchen, “to have so many girls understand what you are going through; the difficulties and greatness that is baseball life.”
Many marriages fail under the difficulties of life in the major leagues, but these marriages stand strong. And they do so on the basis of faith.
“Having our identity in Christ,” Keli says, “helps us realize the bigger picture. God has us here for a reason and a season and we’re happy to move forward in the hope that our lives are a testimony to that.”
Keli and Pedro seek to point others to Christ through their walk with God together as a couple through their life in the major leagues.
Billie and Dave have experienced healing and growth beyond their expectations through pursuing Jesus both individually and as a couple. They continue to grow daily as they study the Bible and pray together.
“Everyday that we seek God in our marriage, first it transforms us and then it transforms our marriage,” says Billie. “We are a much different couple because of Jesus.”
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new Spirit within them and I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 11:19