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For this Catholic baseball player, a season off is ‘a relief’

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by Anna Wilgenbusch

Denver Newsroom, Jun 30, 2020 / 03:00 am MT (CNA).- Seth McGarry, a pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, has never really not played baseball. But with baseball stadiums closed around the nation due to the COVID-19, he might spend his summer without the game.

“My entire past and childhood was always spent at a baseball field. I love competing,” McGarry told CNA. He started playing when he was five years old, attended Florida Atlantic University on scholarship, and was drafted into the minor leagues at age 21, before he graduated.

The baseball world has been reluctant to make a decisive call for the season. McGarry says that his team has spent months in a state of uncertainty.

“We’ve had to be in limbo and on standby, where we still had to train and throw and lift everyday to stay ready in case something happened,” McGarry said.

With gyms closed and practices prohibited, McGarry said that it has been difficult to train for the possibility of some semblance of a season. Players who live in rural areas did not have anyone to throw with or any equipment to lift.

And it’s still uncertain what the summer will hold. They may be asked to report for some kind of instructional league, while some may be invited to spring training with the major leagues. McGarry has no idea what those possibilities would look like.

But uncertainty, McGarry said, is just part of the game of baseball.

“With the baseball life, there is so much uncertainty and not knowing,” said McGarry. During a normal season, he plays every day and travels all over the northeast in a team bus.

Staying home, he finds, offers the respite of consistency.

“It’s been really nice to kinda have this time to just be in the same place for more than five or six months,” said McGarry. He was married in February 2017 and has an 8-month-old baby girl, Hannah.

During a regular season, McGarry goes months without seeing his family. But the pandemic has allowed him to spend more time with his wife and to see his baby daughter grow.

“Just being able to see her everyday, and sleep in my own bed, and have home-cooked family dinners all the time together, it’s been really great,” said McGarry.

For McGarry, getting to spend time with his family far outweighs the disappointment of not being able to showcase the progress he made over the offseason.

“The whole entire season I’d spent training and trying to get better at certain things, so not being able to play and complete and showcase that was a little frustrating. But at the same time, it was kind of a relief,” said McGarry. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t have gotten to see, like [Hannah] crawling and standing. A lot of that stuff I wouldn’t have gotten to see in person.”

McGarry said that not everyone has been so lucky. His team has a lot of international players who were not able to return home before borders closed and who are now stuck in hotels.

One international player McGarry knows has been stuck in Sarasota, Florida, for months. McGarry said that his friend is just trying to “make the most out of his situation,” but it hasn’t been easy.

In the tumults of baseball life, McGarry’s Catholic faith is a constant. During the season, the team is provided with a priest for Mass, and also a translator for the international players.

But McGarry said that instead of asking God to change anything about his current situation, he has tried to approach the Lord with gratitude for what he does have.

“I think during all this time, instead of asking for guidance or for help, I spent more time just giving thanks and appreciating what I had with the time I get now with my daughter and wife, instead of searching for or asking for more.”

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