I’ll never forget my first experience being a baseball wife. Scratch that. I wasn’t yet a wife or even a fiancee. I had just graduated college and was spending a few weeks of my summer in Salem, Virgina cheering on the man I knew I would one day marry. This was Kyle’s first full season after being drafted and he had already bypassed Low A and landed himself a spot as a starting pitcher on the Red Sox High A roster. Just like going from high school to the college level is a big change, there is an adjustment to be made as you work your way up through the system. With each promotion, you’re now playing with and against guys who are older, more experienced, and more mature in the game. Kyle was not only having to adjust to the next level up, but two levels up. Oh, and have I mentioned that he spent most of his college career as a relief pitcher and closer? Starting is a whole different ballgame. So with all of these big changes came an adjustment period for him. Baseball is such a mental battle and Kyle needed some time to settle in and trust in the abilities that God gave him. He is a perfectionist both on and off the field, so he struggled with his climbing ERA. I wanted nothing more than to see him succeed and feared that maybe I was a distraction that was affecting his game. I literally would sit in the stands worrying that the next batter would crush a ball over the stands and continue to work myself up into a panic until he left the game. Then my best friend and wonderfully wise mother said these words that still ring true today, “You can’t let yourself get so worked up! Your attitude affects his, so you need to be positive and encouraging. God is in control, so instead of sitting in the stands and panicking, pray instead.” It was the slap in the face I needed to wake me up, and I made a promise to do just that. After that initial adjustment period passed, Kyle went on to have an amazing season and we even got engaged that summer, but it was definitely a huge learning experience for us both. Now whenever he takes the mound, I’m not filled with panic or worry, but I sit in the stands with my hands folded in my lap uttering one long prayer that doesn’t cease until that relief pitcher comes running out of the bullpen. There is little we can control in this game, but we always strive do our best for God, so he plays and I pray.
Another baseball wife, Kylie Sanches, was struck by this sentiment exactly as she prayed over her husband’s career and the battles he was facing on the field. I want to do her story justice, so I’ve included below an excerpt from her website.
“One particular morning I could see the heavy burden Brian was carrying. As he left for the field that day I spent some time on my knees praying for the Lord to renew his strength.
“For those who trust the Lord find new strength.” Isaiah 40:31
Later that day, I sent him a quick text to try to just ease his thoughts before the game. I encouraged him to focus only on what he could do (pitch) and leave the rest in God’s hands. I reminded him that the all the Lord asks of us is that we bloom where He has planted us. Simply stated, we do our best with what He has given us. My last words in the text said, “for now You play I pray!” Brian was so emotionally moved by my words of encouragement that he replied back, “wow I like that. You should make it a shirt!” (probably looked more like: wow i like that u should make a shirt)”
That’s exactly what Kylie decided to do, and so You Play. I Pray was born. She now has a whole line of apparel and accessories that are emblazoned with this logo and a Bible verse, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Col.3:23. The majority of the profits from this clothing line are all donated back to organizations that help support and grow the faith of professional athletes, like Baseball Chapel and PAO. Kylie has already touched numerous lives around the country and the WORLD with this venture, including my own.
I had seen YPIP pop up in one of our many MLB/MiLB wives groups, but never took the time to see what it was all about. (Sorry, Kylie!) Then just recently one of my friends (more about her in a bit) posted a picture of her new YPIP hoodie on Instagram, and it really struck home. It was the motto by which we’d been living ever since that fateful chat with mom made into an adorable sweatshirt. I immediately jumped on Kylie’s website and bought myself the tank that is pictured above. Kyle loved the idea, but questioned the timing of my purchase since he’s still no where near ready to playing again. I told him that this is the shirt I’ll be wearing when he finally takes the mound again, a healed and whole pitcher ready to throw some fire. Somehow the bright pink message on this tank was a sign for me that Kyle will be okay and he will play again. For now, I’ll amend it to “you rehab, I pray.” It’s not as catchy, but it works.
Now it’s time to introduce you to the wonderful lady who introduced me to You Play. I Pray. Erica is a wonderful friend, devout Christian, adoring wife to pitcher, Jess Todd, and author of the blog, Tales of the Todds. She combines endearing sincerity with her wit and charm as she documents their life on the road. I love how Erica writes from the heart, and with each one of her posts manages to make me feel like we’re just back in her kitchen chatting away. And her letters. Oh my goodness! Every once in a while, she’ll fill a post with letters to different people (or things, or places) that range from completely heartwarming to seriously hilarious. Just pop on over and read her letter to Target and you’ll see what I mean. And as a tribute, I’ll leave y’all with a letter to Erica.
How grateful I am that we became friends! Who knew that Kyle and Jess both being throwing partner-less would’ve blossomed into such great friendships?! Well, God did I guess. I really feel like that Instagram post of yours was the spark I needed to renew my strength and faith that God is in control of our situation and, of course, He’ll heal Kyle completely! It’s what He does. Thank you and God both for being my ray of sunshine that day! I miss having you right down the street, but I know that the distance won’t hurt our friendship and I’m thankful for the time that we did have with you both.
Love you lots,