Jordy Mercer – Strength in the Midst of Change

 

Pirates at Orioles June 13, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates Shortstop Jordy Mercer.  Photo by Keith Allison

 

When you go through a series of change, it can be a lot to handle; even if those changes are good ones.

For Jordy Mercer, 2012 was a great example.  As a kid growing up in Oklahoma, Mercer’s dream was to one day become a major league baseball player.  In 2008, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 3rd round of the Amateur Player Draft.  Mercer kept working hard as he sought to fulfill his dream.

Fast forward to 2012.  During Spring Training, Mercer received some fantastic news – only it was news that had nothing to do with his baseball career.  Mercer learned that his wife, Kacey, was expecting a child!  The good news didn’t stop there.  On May 29, Mercer learned that he would be heading to Pittsburgh to join the Pirates.  Mercer told Pittsburgh Sporting News; it’s a dream come true.  Words can’t describe it.  It’s something you dream of when you’re a little kid.”  On August 18, Mercer’s story became even more joyous.  The Pirates had a road game against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Mercer was pinch hitter and wound up going 2 for 4.  The game lasted 19 innings, before the Pirates eventually pulled off a 6-3 victory.  When the game was finally over, the real excitement began; Mercer had to rush to the airport, with the hopes of making it back to Oklahoma and witness the birth of his baby boy, Maverick.  Mercer recalls; “I knew I was catching a plane in St. Louis… it was an 8:30 flight.  We went 19 innings which was incredible to be a part of, but I barely made my flight.  The next morning, I went to the hospital at 5:00 am, and she had it at 1:10, so it was pretty cool.”

Mercer spent the 2012 season learning.  He learned how to be a dad and how to adjust to life as a major leaguer.  Two veterans helped show Mercer the way.  Clint Barmes mentored him on how to be a shortstop while Rod Barajas – who has 7 children of his own – imparted advice on fatherhood.

It’s only been 6 years since that magical year in Mercer’s life, but a lot has changed.  After an offseason that saw key players like Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole traded out of Pittsburgh, Mercer now finds himself a veteran on a young team, and the longest tenured Pirate.  In an article in the Republican Herald, Mercer explains; “I look around and I’m the last guy here, which is kind of a weird feeling.  It’s a good feeling, too, to know that they still want me around after all these years.”

Going into the 2018, the Pirates expectation was much different than they were 2012.  While they have gotten off to a hot start, the rebuilding Pirates aren’t expected to win many games.  It’s also likely that this will be Mercer’s final season in Pittsburgh, as his contract expires after the season.  The Pirates also have two former first round picks ready to take his place in Kevin Newman and Cole Tucker.  Mercer’s role may become more about mentoring his future replacement than making a run for the playoffs.   Mercer sees it as an opportunity.  “It stinks to lose Cutch and Gerrit because not only are they good players, but I’ll miss them as friends and teammates.  You have to look at the positives, though.  We have a lot of young guys who are hungry.  They want to get better.  They want to win.  That’s’ fun… It’s really fun to see those guys ask questions because I’ve been in their shoes.  I asked questions and I’m glad I did.  I learned so much from Clint that I have a hard time even putting it into words.  Hopefully, I can pass along some of the things I’ve learned to these younger guys and maybe they can learn a few things that can help their careers.”

While 2018 may be a challenging season, Mercer will find his strength and stability in the Lord.  Mercer’s favorite Bible Verse is Psalm 16:8; “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be shaken.”  He explained to Blessed 2 Play;

My favorite’s Psalm 16:8…  I think that’s something that I will never forget.  I always keep that in my back pocket and even I can carry it with me on the baseball field.  If I’m not having a good day or something – it don’t even have to be on the baseball field… if things aren’t going my way, I know that’s He’s always there and for me not to be shaken because He’s always right beside me, He’s always there with me.  And I remember reading that verse the first time I read that verse and I’ll never forget where I was – what I was doing – I was laying in bed and having my daily devotion that night, and I came across that verse.  That’s the first time I ever heard that verse, and for some reason, somehow, God just spoke to me and it stuck with me.  And it’s always been on the forefront with me wherever I go; knowing that, whatever happens – not to be shaken.  For He’s gonna be there right beside me.  He’s gonna take care of me.

While 2018 may not be as exciting as 2012 was, Mercer will continue to serve God and encourage his teammates, trusting in God to give him the strength to do it!

Andrew McCutchen – Romans 8:28

Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Photo by Keith Allison

“Not as much as I should.”

It was August 1st, 2013.  The Pittsburgh Pirates were holding what would become their first annual Faith Night; providing players the opportunity to share their Christian Faith with their fans.  A little boy named Dylan stood before Andrew McCutchen and asked a profound question; “How many times have you read the Bible and how often do you read it?”

McCutchen answered; “Honestly, not as much as I should.”  In Joshua 1:8, the people of Israel were nearing the end of their 40 year trek though the wilderness.  God called Joshua to prepare to lead His people into the Promised Land, giving Him this command; “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  How many of us can truly claim that those words describe us?  How often are we speaking God’s Words?  How often are we meditating on God’s Word?  Our answer to those questions is likely the same as McCutchen’s; “Honestly, not as much as I should!” 

On that warm summer night, McCutchen was not admitting defeat to a challenge too great for us to bear.  Instead, he showed the many ways that he does strive to keep God’s Word on His mouth and in his mind.  He explained how his mom sends him devotions every single day.  He spoke about how he was currently going through a study on the 23rd Psalm.  He explained that devotional time in God’s Word is something that he does every day.

As the evening progressed, another young boy named Ethan asked ‘Cutch’; “What is your favorite memory verse and why?”  His answer; Romans 8:28 – And we know that, in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  He explained to the young boy and to the crowd who listened in; “It just shows you that, no matter what you go through, there’s a reason for it, and it’s always gonna work for your good.  Regardless of how low you are.  Regardless of what you’re going through, He’s gonna see you through it and it’s gonna work together for your good and , you know, everything that we go through as people… that’s something that you always have to look at.  And  you have to think about the times that things weren’t going so good, but God see you through it.  And it always happens.  It always happens because God says so and, you know, God’s not a liar.  So,  that’s something that… that’s a verse that really sticks out to me.”

May we all strive to be in God’s Word daily and thus be reminded of His promises so that we never lose our way and never lose heart!

(If you would like to watch McCutchen answer all of the kid’s questions at the 2013 Faith Night Interview, check it out here)