After a 16-year professional career with seven Major League Baseball teams, Mark Kotsay knows something about patience. Yet he claims that marriage and fatherhood have been the best teachers of that virtue and credits his wife, Jamie, for setting an example. She also led him to the Catholic faith.
“My wife, who helped me convert to Catholicism before we were married in 2000, has been the heart of the home,” Kotsay explained. “That’s what mothers excel at: being compassionate and nurturing to others, especially children. As men, we tend to see kids as little adults rather than children, so that makes it difficult for us to be patient with them.”
He added, “The areas I’m lacking in, my wife makes up for. She helps me to have patience when things aren’t going so well.”
Although some elements of society do not value patience, it is often the key to success on the field and off, Kotsay said.
“We like the quick fix, the flashy achievement, all the things that don’t go beyond the surface,” he said. “We don’t like to invest too much effort into things, but we do like to be rewarded. What I’ve found, though, is that patience is necessary to achieve anything worthwhile.”
As a man who takes his faith seriously, Kotsay cites Proverbs 16:32 as an inspiring verse for men in pursuit of patience: “The patient are better than warriors, and those who rule their temper, better than the conqueror of a city.”
Although initial aggression is natural, Kotsay said, it must be controlled through discipline. “It is much more challenging to be patient, but it is also better,” he added. “With patience, you conquer yourself, and once you’ve done that, you can do anything else.”
Kotsay learned the value of patience early in his career. He was a star athlete in high school but sat on the bench for much of his freshman year at California State University, Fullerton. Forced to wait his turn and hone his skills, he later blossomed, winning the Golden Spikes Award for the nation’s top college player and being named the College World Series’ Most Valuable Player in 1995.
“It’s easy as men to be aggressive, and that can be a good thing,” Kotsay said. “What’s not so easy is accepting things when they don’t go your way. You’ve put the effort in, but you don’t get back what you expected. At this point, you have two choices: you can get angry or you can accept it.”
Although anger may seem like the easiest solution, Kotsay has learned that an attitude of acceptance is more conducive to achieving goals.
Patience has also helped him during a long Major League career that has seen him play in a number of uniforms and cities. He has appeared in 1,810 games as a first baseman and outfielder and has compiled a respectable .278 career batting average. Yet he knows that faith and family take precedence over baseball.
Upon becoming Catholic, he discovered that the Church provides powerful support to living a virtuous life. “All the sacraments and prayers the Church has used for centuries are still so helpful today,” he said. “It’s up to men to use those things to be leaders in the home.”
Kotsay also recognizes that a father’s outlook on life affects how the family sees the world. “If a father has self-control and is strong, then everyone else in the family takes that as a framework for their own lives.”
Here, the practice of patience is essential, Kotsay said, because it allows a man to overcome self-interest and affirm his faith in God. “You accept things not going your way, and at the same time, you embrace that cross God has sent you.”
TRENT BEATTIE, a correspondent for the National Catholic Register, writes from Seattle, Wash.