Baseball is not as glamorous as you’d think. The game comes with a lot of stress, not least of which is traveling. It can be really hard on families, especially when kids start to enter the picture.
It was hard on my family. We were able to afford help for my wife, so she wasn’t always by herself with our sons, but it was still hard. There were a lot of times when she couldn’t reach me, because we were in different time zones, or I was in a game. So she had to make a lot of decisions for the family without me. Then once I got home, it could be hard to figure out how I fit into the family and its routines.
And yet, throughout my time as a player, she encouraged me. She encouraged me a lot.
Some guys are able to have stress off the field and use that to drive them to focus on the field. I was the exact opposite. If I had a lot of stress off the field, I wasn’t as focused on the field. If I felt unrest off the field, or things were not clicking well in the family, I didn’t do very well on the field. So that was another role my wife took on. She kept peace in our home, and made sure I felt like everything was okay before I went to play a game. And she did it so well.
She made sacrifices to do all this, too. She made personal sacrifices to go with me and be with me. She put some of her own dreams on hold. One of those dreams was her horses. She had to put that dream on hold for nine years, and risked not being able to return to it. Fortunately, she is riding and competing again, and she’s really enjoying it. But she risked it.
These are the reasons for the tears that I shared when I thanked my wife at my retirement ceremony. I knew everything that she’d done for me and our family. She met every challenge, and navigated through every changing scenario. It’s really incredible to think about everything she was able and willing to do.
That’s why I said that it wasn’t just me retiring. We retired. Baseball was our job. We did it as a team, and there was no other way it could have worked. I might have been the one on the field. I might have been the face of our family in the game and in the community. But we did it — me, my wife, and our children — as a team.
This wasn’t something I took for granted. There were times that I did take it for granted, but I got a lot of grace and I learned and I grew. I realized just how big a role my wife played. And I am very thankful for what she did. Her effort and her sacrifice allowed my career to go as long and as far as it did.
In the end, I needed her permission to retire, because it was her retirement, too. And I received it. She was okay if I played longer, and she was okay if I decided to transition out of baseball. As always, she gave me her full support.
For these many reasons, I got really emotional when I said “thank you” to her. Everything she did meant so much to me. She means so much to me.
See you Thursday.