“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry”
One of the most feared hitters from the past twenty years, former outfielder Matt Holliday made an impact with every team he played for. Debuting for the Colorado Rockies in 2004, Holliday has put together a career that includes playing for four different teams, being a seven time all star, and being a World Series Champion. Despite his successful career and the profound impact he made on the game, the impact that Holliday and his wife, Leslee, are making off the field is even more powerful.
Born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the athletic abilities of Matt Holliday were evident from the beginning. Being a star on both the baseball and football field, Holliday eventually chose baseball, and was drafted in 1998. While growing as an athlete, Holliday was also growing who he was off the field. Matt’s future wife, Leslee, helped Matt in that process since the day they first met. She says, “I was raised in a church and so we were very involved as a family. But it wasn’t until I was in college that I started to really get serious about a personal relationship with Jesus. I met Matt right about that time too, and maybe a couple months or so after I really started to get serious about my own personal faith. And so I would say that even though Matt wasn’t raised in a church, we were equally yoked in the fact that both of us were pursuing Jesus pretty seriously as college kids. And so when we met it was really good timing for both of us in our walk and learning how we could keep Jesus at the center of our relationship as a young dating couple.”
In 2004, the Rockies pulled Holliday up for his MLB debut. He became their starting left field, and created a reputation for his intimidating power. As Holliday began to build up accolades and awards, he made sure to keep his faith a priority. Throughout his career, he has emphasized using his gifts to impact others. “Baseball in particular is a very humbling sport. When you’re an athlete, it’s all about, how can people serve you? And so to me I was always trying to make sure that you don’t fall into that trap where it’s about you and it’s instead about how you treat other people. ” After spending time with the Rockies and the Athletics, Holiday was traded to the Cardinals in 2009. There, Matt says his faith was aided by being around other guys who became support systems for him. “When you talk about my time in St. Louis and the amount of time I spent with Adam Wainwright and Skip Schumacher and Lance Berkman, and some of the guys that I played with, that time I spent with them strengthened our bond, our relationship with the Lord, and then our own friendships and families.”
Matt and his wife soon began looking for ways to make an impact in the City of St. Louis, especially after signing a long-term deal with the Cardinals. “Being in St. Louis, you know, the Cardinals are a really big deal. And so when I signed with the Cardinals for seven years, we were looking for an opportunity to get involved in the community and looking for ways to use the platform God had provided us.” Matt and Leslee were soon led to make an impact at the local children’s hospital. “We have four kids and we have a heart for kids and children and families. And it just kind of came together like this perfect storm of ideas and people. We teamed with Cardinal Glennon and came up with this concept of Homers for Health, where we get the Cardinals fans involved and get an opportunity to impact kids and families that are going through hard times, whether they’re sick or injured.” That impact was so profound that there was a wing of the hospital named after the Holliday’s. Leslee was also making an impact on other wives in the game, being a resource and support system as they became accustomed to the ups and downs of the game. “I love to encourage people and I love to be a friend and I love having people in my home and I just, I like people. And so I just think that it was a natural fit for how God wired me to be able to mentor and share my life with younger women in baseball.”
As Matt now coaches for Oklahoma State, he and Leslee have started a podcast, Table Forty, where they are continuing to make an impact even after stepping away from the game. Sharing stories of faith from family and friends from the game, they continue to encourage others to use their gifts to make an impact and keep God first. Using their gifts to make an impact in their community, Matt and Leslee continue to inspire so many to love those around you and be a light in the lives of others.
*Photos courtesy of Matt and Leslee Holliday