People ask me if I’m going to miss being in the game and on the mound. You know what? I don’t think so!

Maybe there will be times when I miss being a professional baseball player, but I don’t think I’m going to miss the on-field stuff. I don’t think I’m going to miss the stress. I also don’t think I’ll miss the competition, because I feel like I already did everything I needed to do on the field. I don’t have anything left to prove. I doubt I’ll watch a game wishing I was out there.

Retirement is still fresh, obviously, so I’m still conscious of just how ready I was, mentally, to be done. Maybe in a year or two I’ll miss it a little bit. But I’ve talked to a few guys who said that they chose their retirement when they knew it was time to go, just the way I did. All of them said that they don’t miss the field. They don’t miss the stress of a game. They just miss the camaraderie of the game.

I think that I’m going to miss being in the clubhouse with the guys. I’ll miss laughing and talking, and I’ll miss trying to help guys out. Everybody’s different, and I was able to help guys in the game in a lot of different ways. I’ll miss that, although opportunities might still arise. I’ve also got a lot of friends in Spokane, so I’ve got camaraderie here.

I know I’ll miss certain guys in the game. But I’m a relational guy, so I’ll keep up with them. Just a text here and there will be good enough at times.

I think that instead of missing the on-field stuff and the clubhouse camaraderie, I’ll be learning to make the transition to a different routine. What does my life look like post-career? What am I going to do? What kind of job can I have? What will keep me busy, and bring me joy? It’s very important to me to feel like I’m making an impact.

So this transition phase is the most challenging, because I’m used to routine. For so many years, I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing at any given point in the year, or even the day. I’d be working out for specific purposes. I’d know what day I should start throwing. I knew when it was time to get ready and pack for spring training, and before I knew it, I would be in my spring training routine. All that has changed! Now I’m exploring new options, and trying to create a routine where I feel comfortable and at ease, doing something that I enjoy. It’s important to start figuring that out.

Meanwhile, I’ll go on challenging myself, and finding new opportunities to be challenged. I’ll find new ways to compete. I’ll definitely have that in my hobbies of hunting and fishing.

There are so many possibilities! I just have to make sure I choose the right ones. I need to do the right thing for my family and for me so that we remain a team. That is a huge priority for me.

Another one of my priorities is to raise my boys to be servant leaders. I want to raise a whole generation of servant leaders! So one of my new challenges will be cultivating opportunities for public speaking. That is going to be fun! It’s going to be fun to learn how to do it well, and also to continuously improve. I’m also finishing my second book, and will publish that this year.

Servant leadership is a subject that is very dear to my heart. More on this next time. See you Thursday.

The Last Out

It felt good to walk off the field for the last time. It was emotional, but it felt good. I felt very blessed.

The first time I ever got to be a part of a World Series, it was with the Colorado Rockies. So it was pretty awesome to be able to end my career against them. They were a big part of my story. A huge part of my story, actually.

The Giants had a lot of competition with that team, so I faced a lot of those guys a lot of times. I felt like I had faced Carlos Gonzalez about eight gazillion times in the last few years. You know, he beat me a few times, and I beat him a few times, so overall it was a cool deal. On my last day, in my last game, I made my final out against Carlos.

He flied out to center. When the ball was caught, and he was walking off, Carlos stopped, and he yelled out my name. I looked over at him and he took his hat off. He tipped his hat to me. I think that was pretty awesome. My wife said that it’s one of the coolest things she’s ever seen.

I was having a hard time that morning. Just thinking about what that day meant was rough. It was giving me a hard time. I cried quite a bit coming into the ballpark. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the speech! But I did, and it’s because the Holy Spirit was definitely there. I think He was the one guiding me in my speech, and helping me choose my words. He guided me in how I was talking and how I was reflecting. And I think He was giving me calm. He was the one right there with me, letting me know it was okay. I think the Spirit of God was on it all.

It meant so much to me, just knowing that Jesus was standing there with me the entire time. He had His arm around me, just saying, “This is good.” That gave me a lot of peace. Jesus made it possible for me to be able to do what I did on my last day as a professional baseball player.

Jesus was there with me that day, but He has been with me the whole time. He was there with me throughout my entire career. He was always there. We had to walk through some pretty rough passes, we really did, and I couldn’t have done it on my own. He had to walk me through them. So being able to understand that He held my hand the entire time, through my entire career, knowing exactly how it was going to end, is something that I found very comforting.

Jesus also knows exactly how things are going to go after my career, and I find that comforting as well. It’s time to move on. I’ll have something to say about that next time. See you Monday.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year! Be blessed!

Thanking My Wife

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.

Daddy’s Coming Home

I got emotional about my retirement. I got emotional in the press conference when I announced my retirement, and I got emotional on the field. I cried. There was so much on Twitter about how heartfelt and emotional it was, and a lot of fans said they were crying along with me. Thank you.

The day of the press conference, when I announced my retirement to the media, they asked me what I was going to miss most about the field. That’s when I shed some tears. I knew what I was going to miss the most. It was my relationships with some of my friends on the team. One thing ballplayers know is that there will be friends on their team that will be closer than brothers. We’re lucky to know that, and I already knew it from experience. So I got teary-eyed talking about a couple of close friends like that, Buster Posey and Matt Cain. Those two guys specifically are friends that are so close to me. I’d take a bullet for either one of those guys.

Those friendships, those relationships, that’s what I’m going to miss the most. I’m very relational in how I do things, and so I’m really going to miss the relationships that I developed on the field. That was the best part. Will there be other times and other relationships that are just as powerful? Yes, of course. Relationships that strong are ongoing. I have some of them in my home town, too. But seeing those guys all the time? I’m going to miss that a lot. I’m going to miss all that stuff that I got to do in the clubhouse and on the flights. I’m going to miss lunches, breakfasts, dinners on the road, just being with the guys on the team. And Buster and Cain, specifically, I will really miss.

But nothing meant more to me than being able to tell my children that I’m coming home. They missed me a lot. On the road, I’d call home every night, and they would say, “When are you coming home?” Or they’d ask, “When are you going to be done?” My oldest son was asking me when the road trip would end and the team would play at home. I just had so many times on the road where it was, “Are you home yet?” “How many days left till you get back?” “When are you coming home?”

That’s why, during my speech at my retirement ceremony, I told my children, “Daddy’s coming home.” That was the biggest thing, for them and for me. To say it then was to let them know that I always said that, but this time, it wasn’t temporary. This time, it was for good. This time, I was saying, “I’m going to be home a lot more now. Daddy’s coming home to stay.”

That meant so much. It meant a lot to my children, and it meant a lot to my family. Probably right then, only me and my family knew just how much it really meant. And I know that a couple of guys on the team knew too.

Whew. So yeah, I cried, talking about how much I would miss the guys I got to play with, and telling my children that I was coming home. It was such a great experience for me to be able to do that.

If you watched it, you know I shared my tears when I honored my wife, too. I’ll tell you about that next time. See you Thursday.

Prepare for Impact

I haven’t finished telling you just how grateful I am for the Giants community relations people. I started telling you last time, about the way they got to know my heart and match me with ideal opportunities. They allowed me to represent the Giants, and they also allowed me to represent my passion for teaching and modeling servant leadership.

Community relations personnel don’t have an easy job! Ballplayers have to dedicate themselves first and foremost to being the best and winning games. On top of that, some of us have families. And even after taking all of that into account, there’s just the fact that we’re not all the same. Ballplayers have different abilities and skills when it comes to showing our appreciation for the fans and participating in the community.

A lot of ballplayers don’t have the ability to do the kinds of things that I got to do. It’s not that they don’t have good hearts, because they do. It’s just that they don’t feel comfortable. So they focus in areas where they feel very comfortable, like signing autographs. That’s their way of being part of the community. In other areas they don’t feel as comfortable, and that’s okay. That’s just not them, while I feel comfortable in all areas. I can go where I’m needed, signing autographs, representing the organization, going on speaking engagements, and going into the community to just hang out and talk.

So as long as I had availability, it was relatively easy for the Giants to find things for me to do. I just told them, “I love the community and I love being with people, but my wife’s my first priority. We have three boys at home. These are our three young leaders and I have to serve them first.” The front office understood that and supported me. So they just worked with me! They discussed opportunities, letting me know what they had on deck. They asked me which ones I wanted to be a part of, and after I selected the ones I wanted, then they would work on times and dates. They always scheduled things so that I would have time with my family.

I was able to do stuff at the field too. If it was easier, we’d do community stuff there. I’d get with various groups and organizations on the field before the game, or after, if time was available. The Giants’ community relations people really did everything they could in order to make sure that I was involved in the community in the way that I wanted to be involved, and still be with my family.

It was an awesome relationship. To be able to go out and do all those things that I got to do, and to have the impact that I was able to have, was really exciting. God allowed those doors to be opened to me. I walked through them, and I was excited to walk through them, and I was just so honored to be part of the Giants. I think it was God’s goal the entire time. He just needed to shape me to where I could handle what the Giants could throw at me. That’s because He knew the kind of impact that I could have in that city, and the kind of impact that city was going to have on me. I needed to be ready for it, so that I wouldn’t let it pass before my eyes without even knowing what happened. In the first half of my career, God shaped me for those seven years in San Francisco. He prepared me for impact.

Hopefully He’ll allow me to make an even bigger impact now, in that city, and in different cities, around the country and in the world. You haven’t seen the last of me!

I still have a little more to share about my retirement ceremony. See you Monday.

Thankful for Giants Community Relations

Last time, I talked about the work I got to do with companies like Peet’s Coffee and non-profits like Larkin Street Youth Services. In a nutshell, I got to work with people who want to help. There are a lot of disadvantaged people, kids and adults alike, who don’t have what we have. They don’t get to experience what we get to experience. But people who want to help are in abundance in the Bay Area. I was very thankful to be a part of it.

That’s why I thanked some of the Front Office personnel, including the community relations department, at my retirement ceremony. They were such a big part of who I’ve become. Because of them, I was exposed to a lot of good things.

Before I came to San Francisco, I played with several other teams. I went to them and told them my heart. I told them that I wanted to be part of the community, and participate in community service. But they never got me out there. I wasn’t a marketable player, right? There were players that they wanted to push in the community, but I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t going to be there that long. They knew it, and I knew it. So even though I wanted to get out and represent my team and my heart, they never came to me or invited me to do things.

It made sense, but it wasn’t what I wanted. So imagine how excited I was about the way the Giants allowed me to go out in the community! They allowed me to promote the Giants and represent the organization. They created opportunities for me to go out and show our community who the Giants really are. They allowed me to lead! For me, it was awesome. It was awesome to represent the Giants in the community.

But they also allowed me to represent myself, and who I am. This was because of the quality of the people who work in the Giants’ community relations department. They really got to know me. They really cared. I got to spend a lot of time with them talking about the things that are personally important to me. So they got to know my heart! They really took the time to do it. They knew what I wanted because they asked me, and I told them. I said, I want to be a part of serving our community. This is who I am. This is what I’m about. And I want to be as influential in the community as I possibly can. Knowing my heart as they did, the first experience they made possible was Larkin Street Youth Services. And when I brought Not For Sale to them, they supported me.

That’s what I was so thankful for, when I thanked them at the ceremony. I’m grateful to them for learning my heart, understanding what I wanted to be a part of, and helping to make that a reality for me.

More on this next time. See you Thursday.

Serving in the Bay Area — A Great Community!

My retirement from baseball has been an occasion to reflect on my time as a player, and obviously it was an awesome honor to be part of such a successful team. The Giants are an incredible organization. Not only did I enjoy the fruits of my labor from three World Championships, I also got to enjoy the fruits of being an athlete serving in a great community. The Giants community relations people arranged a lot of opportunities for me to serve.

One of my earliest community experiences was with Larkin Street Youth Services, who have been partnered with the Giants for awhile. The opportunity to serve there was exactly what I wanted. I got to hang out with kids who had been abandoned. They’d been pushed out and kicked out and they had nowhere to go. Maybe it was because of some of the choices they made, and maybe it was because of some of the choices that other people made for them. Either way, these were kids who had been forced onto the streets. Larkin Street takes these kids in and educates them.

I was able to get to know the men and women that represent Larkin Street, both staff and board members, and I learned their hearts for endangered and homeless youth. I got to be part of a couple of their functions and spend time in their offices. I was also invited to go to a barbecue with a few of the kids.

It was really great to be part of the graduation ceremonies a couple of times. The first time was so awesome. They let me be part of keynoting a graduation ceremony for kids that went on to City College, and a couple of other colleges. Those kids started on the streets, and when Larkin Street brought them in, they put aside their anger and put their energy into what Larkin Street was trying to do for them. Now they are in college and creating jobs for themselves. I got to be a part of that. I got to speak into their lives. I just got to love on those kids.

I was also given the opportunity to work with Peet’s Coffee. Obviously they do business outside of the Bay Area, but they’re a local company. Peet’s is a big sponsor of the Giants. They have a cafe in left center where fans can go for coffee. I got to know their staff, and hang out with the Master Roaster and go to the Roastery and learn how things are done. I got to do all that because I was Giant, but they also wanted to learn my heart. They listened to my heart for building servant leaders, and for serving in areas of poverty. They got to know me, and I got to understand who they are, and the heart behind the company. It’s been great to do stuff with Peet’s.

My experience with Peet’s allowed me to see that even major corporations have such good, good hearts for the community. To be part of community service projects with a company of that calibre, and to personally get to know the people involved, was just so great. I got in because I was a Giant. But that’s how I got into a lot of different places. The Giants helped me get my foot in the door, and once in, I could actually learn the hearts of the people that run these organizations, and know that they are community-driven. To be able to see that was pretty awesome.

More on this next time. See you Monday.