The rookies won’t even know what has hit them.
In just a couple of weeks, the St. Louis Cardinal rookies of 2018 or 2019 will join the veterans in the spring training clubhouse in Jupiter, FL. Manager Mike Matheny plans to smack them hard, and capture their attention with his advice on what it takes to play on his team.
Tuesday night, Matheny shared part of his “rookie talk” with a crowd of more than 1,000 in Quincy, IL, attending the first area fundraiser for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Matheny encouraged the crowd to selflessly serve others. He says former Cardinal Willie McGee constantly helps the younger players. “Willie says, “There’s some people who light up a room when they walk in, and there’s some people who light up a room when they walk out.”
As a 15-year-old boy, Matheny dreamed of having his own car, and his father taught him to earn it. It’s a lesson he never forgot. His father asked Mike to work extra hard in school to improve his grades, to help out more around the house, and to “do something with that long hair.” After weeks of trying to impress his Dad through hard work, Mike was reminded that his hair was still longer than his Dad liked. “But Dad, I’ve seen many pictures of Jesus, and he had long hair.”
Without skipping a beat, his Dad responded. “Yes, Mike that is true. And he walked every place he went.” Matheny learned about discipline the hard way.
Through time, Matheny’s faith grew, and he knew he had a platform to spread the word.
So, each February, the rookies are asked what their priorities are in life, and he encourages them to make sure their words to match their pictures. “or we’re living a lie.”
Fellowship of Christian Athletes is forming groups in West-Central Illinois. The support of the crowd of 1,000 will help launch this growth. “FCA boldly wants to change the world by using high school coaches and athletes,” Matheny said. “They have an opportunity to change from within.”
Matheny challenges his players, and crowds like the one in Quincy, to focus on self-improvement in these key areas:
1) Education — “When you’re through learning, you’re through.”
2) Discipline — “Do the right thing.”
3) Grit — “There’s a toughness that comes along with higher-level achievers. I follow a God that says “Do everything with all your might.”
4) Energy — “Colin Powell says that “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
5) Encouragement — “Are we not called to be a light?”
6) Selflessness — Jackie Robinson said, “A life is unimportant except for the impact it has upon others.”
FCA works with our kids, and hopes to lay a foundation of faith that impacts their lives forever. The organization helped a young catcher become a responsible and caring man. It helps a MLB manager lead his young players. And its message can help us all today, even after our playing days are over.
“Many of us are lying in the weeds,” Matheny said. “We all have talents. We have gifts. But what’s it all for? Without God, you’ll have a very shallow and hollow experience.”