Wife to Matthew Maniscalco
I don’t think about baseball every day…not anymore at least. Still, I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss the baseball lifestyle. It’s not that I want my husband to be gone three weeks of every month or that I’d like to raise our two children alone for seven months a year. But, I do miss the excitement of the games and the smell of the ballpark (some of them at least). Oh, and I miss the announcer saying, “Now batting, number (whatever), Math-yoooou Manis-caaaal-cooooo.” (My heart smiles when I think back.)
Every woman married to/engaged to/dating/dreaming of a baseball player knows what I’m talking about. There is just a rush that comes with being in a park where your man has the chance to lead his team (and thousands of excited fans) to victory…sort of like a warrior in battle, only much less violent.
There was always a true happiness in my heart when I watched Matthew play. There was an incredible energy about him when he was on the diamond, and I couldn’t help but feel it too. Some of my favorite memories are of his diving catches, barehanded plays, long throws across the diamond and line drives to bring in the winning run.
Like so many other families in the game, we moved all over the country while “living the dream.” Matthew played for the Rays’ system in Charleston, S.C., Bakersfield and Visalia, Calif., Montgomery, Ala., and Durham, N.C. I can honestly say it was wonderful.
Unlike many players who make it to AAA, but not to the big leagues, my husband wasn’t released. In late May of 2007 he decided on his own – and with a prayerful heart – that, after a lifetime of playing a game that was more natural to him than just about anything, he would “retire” from baseball.
There were several factors in his decision, but it was made. Done. No turning back.
I was heartsick. I vividly remember asking myself if he was doing ‘this’ just to be with our daughter and me or if he was doing it for the right reasons. I recall going to the airport in Raleigh/Durham to pick him up after he had “retired.” I sobbed all the way there. When he got in the car, we didn’t say much. We listened to music and sang with our daughter (who was just six months old at the time). When we got home, we sat at the kitchen table and cried together. We both knew the impact “the end” would have on our immediate future (e.g. no paycheck, no insurance, etc.), and at that time it was so difficult to see God’s plan. Where was He leading us? What would the next few months hold?
That day, as Matthew and I let go of something that we both wanted, longed for and loved, God let us experience a different way of life as a family. Baseball had made our relationship mostly about Matthew…and rightly so. Everything we did from planning our family to buying our home and automobiles centered around Matthew’s baseball career. It was second-nature for us since that was all we had known during our married life. But as soon as baseball was out of the picture, a beautiful thing happened. We got our husband/daddy’s undivided attention. He had never intentionally ignored or neglected us. He’s a way better man than that. But suddenly, overnight, he was all ours. It sounds silly, I know, but it was one of the sweetest, simplest times in our lives.
Letting go of baseball was hard. We still – almost three years after Matthew’s retirement – have not been to a minor or major league game. I miss it. But not as much as I enjoy the life we have now.
Baseball is a huge part of our lives and always will be. We love the game. And our little family is living proof that – when the time is right – you can love it and let it go.