Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Wife, child, mother-in-law of Tampa Bay pitching prospect Blake Bivens murdered

Emily Bivens, Cullen Bivens and Joan Bernard — the wife, 1-year-old son and mother-in-law, respectively, of Tampa Bay Rays Double-A pitching prospect Blake Bivens — were found shot and killed in Bernard’s home Tuesday. Police have arrested 19-year-old Matthew Bernard, Joan’s son and Emily’s brother, for the murders.

On Twitter, the Rays posted a statement late Tuesday saying, “Earlier today we learned that Blake Bivens, a pitcher with our Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, suffered a terrible family tragedy in southern Virginia. Our hearts are broken for Blake.”

The Biscuits canceled a doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday.

Blake Bivens and Emily Bernard Bivens met and started dating in high school, and were married on Jan. 9, 2016. Their son, Cullen Micah Bivens, was born in June 2018.

Our Baseball Life, an organization Emily worked with that is dedicated to connecting and resourcing the families of professional baseball players, posted on Facebook, “We are devastated by the loss of our friend and fellow baseball wife, Emily Bivens, her son Cullen and her mother. Emily had an incredible heart for the Lord and shared His light to many through her writings in Baseball Chapel. She deeply loved this community of baseball women and was a comforting, kind soul to all who knew her. Our hearts are with her husband Blake and her family during this unimaginable time.

Emily, a devout follower of Jesus, was a contributor to baseballchapel.org, and on July 31 wrote the following in a blog post:

There are so many circumstances in our lives and the lives of people we have the privilege of knowing that looked bad at first, but were turned around for good. I’m sure you can think of many in your own life as well. God is a Master at making things beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3).

Whatever you are going through, put your hand in the hand of the God Who can see over your mountains and past your storms because sometimes, on the other side of the storm, the beauty in His plan is even more evident than before.

Our Baseball Life created a GoFundMe page for anyone interested in financially supporting the family’s funeral expenses. Our most heartfelt, lamenting prayers go out to Blake Bivens and the Bernard family during this unimaginably tough time.