Sports Spectrum Weekly

Phillies' Andrew McCutchen pens speech for MLB opener with his identity in Christ

The 2020 Major League Baseball season finally began on Thursday with two games after a four-month layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And although things will look a little different in 2020, the unmistakable crack of the bat and clap of the glove left fans everywhere giddy.

One of those two Thursday games pitted the defending World Series-champion Washington Nationals against the New York Yankees. Leading up to the game, which many would be watching, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen saw an opportunity to address injustice.

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With his wife, Maria, McCutchen wrote a speech that was read over the loudspeaker by actor Morgan Freeman before the game began.

McCutchen’s speech concluded with a call for unity and equality for all people, in Major League Baseball and beyond: “Today, and every day, we come together as brothers, as equals, all with the same goal — to level the playing field. To change the injustices. Equality is not just a word. It’s our right. Today, we stand as men from 25 nations on six continents. Today, we are one.”

Players and coaches from both teams lined up along the first and third base lines and held a long, black tapestry while Freeman read McCutchen’s speech. As he finished, everyone took a knee briefly and bowed their heads. Then they all stood as the national anthem was played.

“This is a moment for us to honor each other, to honor the things that we’re going through,” McCutchen told ESPN. “With the social injustices we’re going through in this country, with the things that exist outside our nation — places like Venezuela, the Dominican Republic. To honor that and show that we honor each other, that we have each other’s back, that we’re going to fight for each other.”

McCutchen has garnered quite a bit of respect as an outfielder since he made his MLB debut in 2009 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s made five All-Star appearances, captured four Silver Slugger Awards and a Gold Glove Award, and was the 2013 National League MVP.

All the while, the 33-year-old has shared that his faith in Christ is what is most important to him. McCutchen, who ended last season prematurely with a torn ACL, said that he is grateful for the time at home to heal and spend time with his family.

“I’ve been thanking God,” he said last month. “Something that I felt like was so horrible and it was, having the injury, ended up being something that was very beautiful because I was able to [enjoy] so many things that I’ve gotten out of this and realized that God is using this for good. Romans 8:28 — He’s using what I’m going through, He’s using it for His good. And I realize that. He shows me here and there that the injury was tough, not playing the game was tough, but there’s beauty that comes out of it.”

McCutchen also detailed how his parents instilled faith in him from a young age, taking him to church multiple nights every week. His father was even a youth pastor. Yet McCutchen said that his relationship with Christ truly became his own when he decided to get baptized at the age of 16.

“That moment was really the moment where I felt I really had my own relationship with Jesus,” McCutchen said. “It wasn’t something that was just taught to me or something that was forced upon me, it was actually my own decision.”

As a guest on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in March 2019, McCutchen said his faith in Christ has helped keep baseball in perspective for him.

“This game is amazing and it is important, and I realize that,” he said, “but God is more important than the game.”

“Jesus’ love never changes,” McCutchen said in June. “It doesn’t matter how well I do or how bad I do, His love for me never, never changes and it never will.”

McCutchen’s Philadelphia Phillies will open the season at home against the Miami Marlins on Friday as the MLB season kicks into full swing.

“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.” — Romans 8:28

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