When I was a kid I always wondered who liked the Pittsburgh Pirates, besides my dad. True, I grew up in Chicago, but even there you could find people who would say, “You know, I always kind of liked…” followed by a random team. Not so with the Pirates. They seemed to exist to frustrate whatever poor soul put his faith in them. Today, with Andrew McCutchen on the team, it’s a different story. He’s not only a National League All-Star, but he seems to be a really good person who can teach us something about hard work, loyalty and family values.
For those not familiar with McCutchen, he grew up in a Florida trailer park. His parents had him at 17 years old. His dad worked in a phosphate mine and his mom worked at a grocery store. And when those two loving parents did the best they could to raise their son with good values, the seeds for success they planted in his head began to blossom:
“We used to get up 4:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m., hit balls, and he just decided he wanted to do that. He wanted to be great,” (Lorenzo McCutchen).
And great he became. In fact, he’s so good at the sport that the Pirates signed him to a six-year, $51.5 million contract extension last season. But the thing is, the playoff-bound Pirates really couldn’t afford what the market could deliver “Cutch,” and yet he stayed in Pittsburgh. He turned down millions to stay with the team that offered him his first big break.
“This is the team that drafted me. I owe them signing this contract. Why would I waste it on going: ‘Maybe I can get $31 million if I had a good year.’ Then I would be contradicting myself and going: ‘Are you doing it for the money or are you doing it because you love the game?’ I want to do it because I love the game,” (Andrew McCutchen, E:60 interview).
“He feels like he was predestined to be there […] He wants to make a difference in Pittsburgh. I think that it’s important that you play where your heart is, and I think his heart is in Pittsburgh,” (Lorenzo McCutchen)
When I was a kid, I’d watch sports stars leave cities over contract disputes and wonder why anyone would uproot their family over a few million dollars when they’re already financially set for life. I never begrudged them for doing so, but I always told myself that if I was put in a similar situation I’d rather stay in the city I love than to exit on bad terms because of money. Andrew McCutchen is living proof that loyalty while living a good life will be rewarded — Pittsburgh fans love the guy.
Want a sure-fire recipe for success? Look at the McCutchens:
- Be a good father.
- Teach your kids that they can decide to be successful — and then instill in them the importance of hard work.
- Follow your heart.
- Know that money is nice, but that it doesn’t bring those who possess it true happiness.
- Be loyal to those who love you and treat you right.
- Give back to your community.
Did I forget to mention that Andrew McCutchen mentors inner-city youth baseball players and at-risk children? Well, he does. At this point in time, it’s really hard to find many faults with a guy who bats .318, gets his team in the playoffs, and works to leave a positive lasting mark on the city that brought him to the big leagues. Even his response to a question about the World Series is golden: “I never really followed the World Series very much. […] I’d much rather play in it … and make my own memories.”
When you dig deep down and focus on who you are and who you want to be, the distractions of the external world melt away. When you believe in yourself and then put in the hard work, the world becomes less stressful. When you surround yourself with positive people, “impossible” tasks suddenly become possible. These are not just lessons for Pittsburgh Pirates fans — they are lessons for us all — and for imparting those lessons I would like to thank Mr. McCutchen.
Hat Tip: Denver Pat