Written by Kim Maniscalco
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.


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8 Comments

  1. I am a "Baseball Mom" and watching my son play is just like how you described watching your husband. So, hopefully, as your kids get older they too will fall in love with baseball/softball and you'll get to enjoy many, many more years of going to the ballpark!

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  2. I can't believe I just happened to come across this page... I too know that there one day will be an end to this crazy life and hearing your version was very touching. It's that time of year when hubby is gone, I have dark circles under my eyes from chasing our babies and the countdown is on until we see him while the team is home... and many, many family members and friends wonder why the heck he does it, and why I do it. You've said it quite accurately though, at least for me. It's our dream too. His dream has become mine and I've become found of the crazy life that is baseball. When the craziness is gone, I hope that I can look back fondly as you have and yet also be thankful for what our life will be like after.

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  3. Kim - This was extremely well written and really hits home. My husband retired in 2007 too, and the adjustment to real life together, minus the golden egg, was really tough. But, I look at our life now, the "normal" life, and it is way more satisfying than "the dream" ever could have been. Thanks for writing this!

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  4. I just found this blog and this is the first post I feel drawn to comment on. I'm a fairly new baseball fan, having fallen in love with the Rays in 2008, and have become a die hard fan of theirs. I'm not a baseball wife, but you mention briefly the feel a fan might get when her man comes to the plate. Like many women, I love Evan Longoria haha! But, I've never seen him. I went blind in 2008 and fell in love with baseball while my boyfriend watched the games. I loved the come from nothing story of the Rays and Evan captured my heart, becoming my first "sports crush". I get that same thrill you described when he comes up to bat or makes an outstanding off balance throw. I hear his at bat music and my stomach flips.

    I can't imagine what it would be like to be a baseball wife, but this blog is giving me a glimpse. Thanks so much for sharing your stories!

    Oh and I have to say that baseball has become such an important part of my life. I get such joy out of listening to the games on mlb.com, and my whole day is filled with excitement waiting for my guys to take the field.

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  5. Great read, Kim. Matthew was always one of my favorite players to watch at Dudy Noble. I was rooting for him to make it to the top, but I'm glad that he made the right decision for your family when it was time.

    Seth
    #HailState

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  6. Great read, Kim. Matthew was always one of my favorite players to watch at Dudy Noble. I was rooting for him to make it to the top, but it sounds like he made the right decision for your family when it was time.

    Seth
    #HailState

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  7. My husband played baseball before we had met. I'm thankful that he still gets to work in the minor leagues but just in the front office. We still go to a ton of games and I know that he misses it. I love reading these stories.

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