Pittsburgh certainly loves Andrew McCutchen, partly for his infectious attitude, partly for his commitment to the city, but perhaps mostly for his role in taking the Pirates from perennial bottom-dwellers to playoff contenders.
But “Cutch,” as Pittsburghers call him, hopes his fans will know and love him for something else—his commitment to Christ. McCutchen sat down with FCA Magazine in 2012 to talk about his faith in an in-depth Q&A. This week, McCutchen heads to the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati for the 2015 All-Star Game, along with three Pirates pitchers: Mark Melancon, Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett.
“Even more than watching the baseball action of the All-Star Game, we love the stories behind these amazing athletes,” said FCA President and CEO Les Steckel. “And Andrew McCutchen is one of those great stories. He’s reenergized the historic sports city of Pittsburgh, and Cutch’s commitment to Christ and to his family, fans and city makes him a wonderful role model for young athletes. We’re looking forward to watching No. 22 make some spectacular plays in the outfield tomorrow, and perhaps steal a base or two as well.”
Through his on-field ability and highly respectable character—which is based upon his personal faith in Jesus Christ—McCutchen has risen to become a leader in the Pirates’ clubhouse. And he’s not taking his responsibility lightly. He’s embracing his platform and making a positive impact on his teammates, coaches and fans, according to the feature in FCA’s magazine.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes: You’ve mentioned how important it is to be consistent throughout the long baseball season. How does that apply to your faith? How do you stay consistent in your faith, specifically throughout the long season?
Andrew McCutchen: The biggest thing is to surround yourself with a good group of guys. We have that here, and we keep each other level, grounded and straight. We have a great group of guys ... who are devoted to Christ. That definitely helps. But there is also a personal responsibility to stay level-headed and on the right path. I feel like those are the two most important things during the season.
"When I’m living in the zone spiritually, it definitely helps me as a baseball player. It keeps me positive, believing in the abilities God has given me."
FCA: Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” What does it mean to you to be in the zone athletically?
AM: That could happen in different places in my game. I could be at bat and be surrounded by thousands of fans, but it will feel like it’s just me and the pitcher. Or when I’m stealing a base, I’ll lead off the bag, and everything slows down; I feel like it’s just me against the pitcher. I’ll be so focused that I can’t hear anything around me. As an athlete, it’s always good to have that feeling of being in the zone. When you’re in the zone, it feels like nothing can stop you. You can do anything. I love having that feeling as a baseball player, and I’m sure every other baseball player loves it as well.
FCA: What does it mean to you to be in the zone spiritually?
AM: I feel like it means doing God’s work—doing what He’s called me to do and using the gifts and talents He’s given me. In my life, I want people to see that I’m not just a baseball player. I want them to know me as a Christian and as someone who is not afraid to make God’s name known. There are sure to be difficult times. God said it wasn’t always going to be easy, but Luke 12:48 says, “…much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.” I feel like that verse applies to me in more than just giving. It involves doing what’s right, doing what God expects me to do on and off the field. When I am doing that, I feel very connected to God.
FCA: Does living in the zone spiritually translate into how you play and how you help lead your team?
AM: When I’m living in the zone spiritually, it definitely helps me as a baseball player. It keeps me positive, believing in the abilities God has given me. As Luke 17:6 says, if we have faith just the size of a mustard seed, we’ll be able to do amazing things. My dad is a pastor, and growing up he instilled Romans 8:28 in me: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” That applies so much to us playing for the Pirates. We’ve had 19-straight losing seasons (in the past), but I know and I believe that all things will work out for the good. That’s what keeps me positive, and that’s what keeps us going.
FCA: What does Ephesians 3:20 mean to you?
AM: With God’s favor, we’re able to do anything in this world that we put our minds to because of the gifts and abilities He’s given us. Having the favor of God is one of the most tremendous gifts a person can have. I am reminded every day that, just as quickly as He’s given me abilities, He can take them away. It’s so important to stay grounded and connected to Him. He’s given me so much that the only way I can say thank you is to give Him all I can in return.
McCutchen added that the ministry and message of FCA has been an important element of his career and his faith.
"Having the favor of God is one of the most tremendous gifts a person can have."
“It’s great to have people ministering to and influencing athletes and coaches for the Lord,” he said. “FCA provides opportunities for kids to hear about God, and then go and tell someone else, and it will continue down the line. I’m thankful to FCA and love to help in any way I can because of the impact they are having.”
For athletes at any level—from Little League to the Major Leagues—FCA focuses on ministering to the whole athlete—physically, mentally and spiritually—through its popular Camps program. For those young baseball fans who someday want to follow in McCutchen’s footsteps, several FCA Camps are available for student-athletes, leaders and teams throughout the summer:
Sports Camps focus on “Training the Total Athlete” and develop athletes mentally, physically and spiritually. Sports Camps are for athletes and coaches who want to develop their athletic skills. Outstanding instruction, skill development and intense competition prepare the camper for future athletic competition.
Leadership Camps train athletes to be spiritual leaders in their personal lives, on their teams and on their campuses. The camps focus on teaching practical skills for Christian growth, developing as an effective leader and preparing for FCA Huddle ministry.
Power Camps develop young athletes in their faith and their sport. Power Camps are typically for young athletes, ages 8 to 12, who want to develop their sports skills. These camps provide excellent instruction and competition through sports-specific and multi-sport focus. The camps are normally day camps that involve the local community.
Team Camps equip teams with spiritual principles through competition and are designed to impact coaches and athletes for Christ through team competition. Coaches enroll their players to attend this camp as a team. Team Camps are a great outreach opportunity, and coaches benefit greatly by evaluating their team’s talent.
International Camps focus on global impact and reach coaches and athletes around the world.
To find camps in specific areas or to inquire about volunteering at an FCA Camp, visit www.fcacamps.org.