This week, we caught up with MLB star and Rockies Relief Pitcher, Jason Motte! From his 100 mph fastball to his faith in Christ.
What was your earliest baseball experience that you remember?
I’d be in the back yard with my brother, throwing balls to him. He was ten years older than me and played baseball, so pretty much since I could walk I had a baseball in my hand. I’d also be going out to the field with my dad. I was always out there playing. I was actually really small growing up so I’d be twelve or thirteen and people thought that I was someone’s nine-year-old brother. However I had a pretty good arm growing up so I could always throw, I just had to work hard to be seen because of my size.
You’ve played for some great teams but what’s been your finest memory/standout moment of playing in Major League Baseball?
From a baseball stand point, winning the World Series in 2011, you go out there to play and enter every season trying to win the whole thing. So to be there and do that, makes 2011 one of my favourite achievements.
With the Jason Motte Foundation we do a lot with Cancer Research and playing baseball has given us that platform to reach and help others. You have got to thank baseball for giving you that ability and for allowing you to show that people do care, you can be a voice for them. In doing that, we have our Strike Out Cancer shirts all around the league now, this is the fourth year that we have had a guy on every team as a representative.
Could you tell us how you came to know God for yourself?
I probably remember going to church before I remember baseball, we were always at church and going to youth groups. We moved to New York in my Sophomore year of high school, we’d find ourselves in the living room going over bible verses and then I went to college, which was a Catholic school. I’d never been to Catholic church so I found myself going, how do I do this, coming from a Southern Baptists background? But after I adapted I found myself getting more into what I was used to and going to baseball chapel. When I turned from catcher into pitcher in 2006 I just remember praying about it and saying to God that I had never pitched before but to give me the strength.
If it’s meant to be then you will make it work. I just thought and prayed about it, it helped me in the tough times and I knew that it was going to work out exactly how it should. Everything happens for a reason and when they turned me into a pitcher, after being a catcher was all I knew, I just said to God that I trusted him. It was a case of, I don’t know how to do this but I am going to figure it out. Our faith is really important to me and my family, it’s a massive part of our life.
Is the art of pitching predominantly learnt, or did you naturally have a bullet arm?
It really depends, I know some guys who can go out there and throw 100 (mph), others pitch and have to be crafty. Even now, pitching in the big leagues you have to learn how to pitch and so you can’t just go out there and throw it as hard as you can. You have to hit your spots in big situations. Being able to control your emotions, your mind and focus in that moment, for me is the big thing. At the end of the day I am going to go out there and give it all I have. There’s no point worrying about other things that you have no control over.
What’s it like to be able to throw a fastball at nearly 100mph? Is it the party trick that you bring up sometimes in conversation?
My friends and people who I play baseball with know, but I can’t just fire a ball across the room at 100, I have to work up to it nowadays. It’s one of those things that can be brought up when I am around people who don’t know about what I do, I just try and keep a low profile and lay low. I’m a dad, a husband, a father and oh yeah I play baseball too.
If you could pitch to any player, past of present, who would you choose?
Man I don’t know, this is going to sound corny, but I used to be in my back yard with my brother and I’d only be throwing tennis balls and things like that. He actually played minor league ball so if he could face me and me face him, that would be cool. Facing him as a little kid, he was ten years older than me so if we faced each other in our prime, that would be pretty cool.
Do you see your talent as a gift from God?
I would definitely say that. There is stuff that you can do to make yourself better but from a baseball ability standpoint, it’s something that I was blessed with. From an early age, I was blessed to have a good arm.
How do you use the platform that God has given you to point people to him?
We have baseball chapel and the guys in the clubhouse, you spend more time with than your family. For us the one thing that’s great is that you can invite guys for chapel and then they will have questions and you can talk to them. They may come to one chapel, it may take a little bit of time, I played with a couple of people in St Louis that I’ve recently found out now know Christ. It’s awesome and you are with these guys for close to ten to eleven hours a day.
So when you see guys coming to chapel, getting baptised, having Jesus in their heart is pretty cool to see. It is a big part of my life and a lot of other people’s life.
Is it tricky to balance the pro baseball lifestyle with a God-honouring lifestyle, there must be lures and temptations there?
Not really, I have always felt that there are temptations in whatever you do. No matter what job you do, whether you are a school teacher, a doctor, a janitor, there are temptations and things that you can be lured into. Sin is everywhere and so it’s not just baseball, you can find trouble anywhere. For me, when I am on the road with the team I am out there to do a job. It’s part of life and part of being a Christian. Just stay true to what your morals are and what your beliefs are.
You’ve set up your own foundation, how did that come about?
When we started it back in 2013, we went to the company that made those shirts and asked them if they would do it for us. We bought 300 of them and we were going to sell them at an event, I gave some to guys around the team and so fans started to see them. It really blew up bigger than we thought it would, it was all to help those battling cancer and for us to be able to have people wanting to pull on a shirt, was cool. On the field we are trying to get each other out but there are other things, bigger than baseball. Our slogan was ‘rivals on the field, team mates in the fight’ and for us that was why we do what we do, we are out there to win and just like in the battle against cancer we come together off-field.
— JasonMotteFoundation (@MotteFoundation) February 4, 2017
Do you have a particular verse or book of the bible that encourages you?
For me I go back to John 3:16 every time, just because that right there is how he gave his life for us. It’s why I believe in him and follow him, that for me is one verse that I go back to because of its meaning. It says it right there, he died for us so that we could have everlasting life. That verse hits the nail on the head, it’s pretty much the gospel in a nutshell.