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Catholic catchers exemplify virtue

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Players model wisdom, hard work, and leadership
by Pat Macken


In baseball, playing catcher is considered the most physically demanding position day in and day out.

Making a career at this position also requires leadership qualities, since the cathcer needs to help pitchers with their pitch choices and also to help position the fielders depending on the situation.

After their playing days are over, catchers often make good managers because of their wisdom, hard work, and leadership. These virtues are personality traits that we as Catholics should be modelling, and there a number of Catholic MLB catchers who are great examples.

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series last season and in doing so ended a winless drought that lasted over a century. Across town the Chicago White Sox would like to replicate that feat and are being led by young catching prodigy Tyler Flowers who has started to make his name known throughout the league.

Flowers’ mother is Catholic and had a great influence on his faith development. Similarly, Flowers’ wife, Nancy, has played a strong role in bringing him even closer to the Lord, helping shape his positive views regarding God and family and seeing them as more important than baseball.

Nancy introduced him to Eucharistic adoration and the Rosary, and when the couple had trouble conceiving and finally began to pray to have children, they prayed to St. Therese of Lisieux, especially when they were in the adoration chapel.

They soon conceived their first child Mia. “Our daughter has been the most wonderful gift to our marriage,” Flowers says. He does not enjoy travelling away from family during the season but says there are Christian teammates who help him.

He has great discussions with both Catholic and Protestant players, especially about Mary. “They believe we worship Mary and I tell them that we honour her as the mother of the almighty God. I tell them that we ask friends to pray for us; why not ask the Mother of God?”

While he feels he still has far to go as a man of faith, he knows that God will always be with him and his family even after his baseball days are over.

Rene Rivera is catcher for a New York Mets team that again had a successful run to the playoffs last year before losing to San Francisco.

He too hates being away from home, cherishing time with his family and seeing his marriage and children as the biggest blessings of his life.

He has travelled more than most players while playing for numerous teams. Much like Flowers, he believes the difficult times he has faced were made easier by his Catholic faith.

“I believe God has put me here in professional baseball for a reason; everything that we go through is part of God’s plan.”

He likes to make an analogy about home plate as our home in heaven. Just as the batter wants to get home and score, Flowers wants to get home to his family and ultimately make it home to heaven. He considers prayer essential since we must know God to know God’s will for us.

Drew Butera, catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers – another team that made the post-season last year – is adamant that a strong work ethic is the single biggest factor in being successful.

His father Sal was a major-league player and Butera credits him for most of his baseball skill. Teammates of his father also passed along tips that usually reinforced the importance of working hard.

“If you put in the best effort you can, it is then up to God to decide what is best for you, even if you don’t always like it.”

Butera, like the other Catholic catchers, said although he grew up Catholic, it wasn’t until adversity struck and his career looked finished that he fell on his knees in prayer. Still playing in the minor leagues, he was at Mass one day, praying more strongly than ever for his career to take a turn for the better. The next day he got traded to Minnesota and his career blossomed.

So did interest in his faith. He loves studying the history of the Catholic Church and the world’s most beautiful churches. His favourite Catholic inspirations have been Bishop Fulton Sheen, as well as the little known Venerable Solanus Casey –  a 20th-century Catholic priest who, before being ordained, had been a baseball catcher.

“We are all the body of Christ, with the goal for all of us to be permanently with Jesus in heaven,” he said.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 10:28  

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