Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Kansas City Royals off to strong start under God-fearing manager Mike Matheny

The Kansas City Royals have only played 17 games this season, but manager Mike Matheny is already excited about what he’s seen from his team.

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“I can honestly say I’ve never been around a team like this,” Matheny said after Wednesday’s walk-off win. “Regardless of what happens, they just believe. They’re saying the right things and that’s fine, and that’s good, you want that positive energy in there. But then it comes down to just, they’re willing to do whatever they’ve got to do to make it happen. That’s what makes it so special.”

That means a lot coming from someone with three divisional titles and a World Series appearance in his managerial career.

Trailing the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh on Wednesday, Kansas City scored four runs to take the lead. The Rays retook the lead in the top of the ninth, forcing the Royals to rally again. After Jarrod Dyson scored on a safety squeeze, Salvador Perez delivered the game-winning hit down the third-base line:

The victory was the Royals’ 10th of the season, making them the only AL Central team with a winning record at the end of Thursday’s games.

Matheny, who joined the organization in 2018 as a special advisor after six-plus seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals’ manager, took over for the retired Ned Yost on Oct. 31, 2019.

“It’s a dream job that I keep learning more about and loving more every time I learn about it,” he said on the Table Forty Podcast in February.

The 50-year-old did not have becoming a manager at the top of his mind when his 13-year MLB career came to a close in February 2007.

“By this time, I had a little bit more consistent prayer life where I was truly trying to listen and just see what He had in store for us,” Matheny said on the podcast. “I had no clue that it was going to be managing a team.”

Faith is at the core of Matheny’s managerial philosophy. He’s made a habit of addressing his players before every season and explaining what he stands for as a follower of Christ. The hope is that his transparency opens the door to future conversations.

For Matheny, it all starts with making God the top priority in every aspect of his life, whether at home with his family or in the dugout with his players.

“I believe that the fear of God is the beginning of all understanding (Proverbs 9:10) and that’s a love-based fear,” he told Sports Spectrum in 2015. “I know that His eyes are always on me, and I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I want to be the husband and father that God wants me to be, plus I want to be the manager that my players need me to be.”

Kansas City begins a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers on Friday night following an off day Thursday.

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