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Sisters in Sports recently caught up with Rene Taubensee, wife of retired Major League Baseball catcher, Eddie Taubensee. Rene is a wife, a mother of 3, Director of Baseball Women’s Ministry at Pro Athlete’s Outreach (PAO) and much more. Rene is well-known among the baseball wives for her willingness to share her faith and her desire to inspire other women living this unique Sis life. Get to know Rene below….
How did you and Eddie meet? Spill the details!
How did we meet? It’s actually a long hysterical story that really should be made into a romantic comedy, mostly comedy! It involved a sister who liked sports, a missed flight, a double header, me forgetting a birthday gift, a region where the sun stays up long past 10pm in the summer, an overzealous coach, a very very shy cute catcher, and being asked out on a date from the field, during a game, in front of about 3500 people, not by the person wanting the date! You really need about 20 minutes and both Eddie and I “live” so we can act out the funny parts to get the whole picture.
In hindsight, were you really prepared for the life of a wife in MLB?
I don’t think anyone is prepared for life in baseball. There are so many ups and downs, living away from family, making friends who move away way too quickly, a complete lack of control over most situations, and a game that really is based on failure. There are the outside pressures of the fans who want success every at bat, competition for spots, and family who, no matter how hard they try, really can’t understand all of the choices you make to stay together. When I look back at things, I am glad that I had to move from another country here and give up my old life to be with Eddie. I was 100% up for the adventure and embraced all the changes and moves. Some were hard but once you go through a huge change like a trade, the next time it’s easier. You also get to really understand the stresses other girls are going through, so the bond of friendship happens very quickly if you let yourself be open to it. It’s all about accepting change, being flexible, connecting with other people and looking for a way to make an impact where you are.
What have you learned during Eddie’s great MLB career? What challenges have you had to overcome?
I learned to focus on the moment while making wise plans for the future. Meaning we enjoyed the crazy roller coaster of each season because we knew it could quickly be the last. We did long range finical planning instead of buying the latest greatest thing. We focused on projects, charities, and Christian organizations we could to which we could give to make a long term investment. I moved every season to be with Eddie, finding schools that would work with us when our boys got to that age because time together as family makes a huge difference to the kids and to our marriage. We went on a ton of road trips so that we could be a part of the adventure and our kids learned to be completely open to change. We took time for a weekly date night during the offseason, even if we really didn’t want to go out so that we could connect with each other.
We faced as many challenges as anyone else in the game. Being away from family and trying to find places to connect was always hard if you didn’t step out of your comfort zone. Realizing that our life looks different on paper than others, but that there are tons of ways to connect, have fun together, and share adventures for kids, made all the difference. Getting to know our baseball chapel representatives in cities really helped because they always knew the name of a sitter or a doctor and were a safe place to talk if something hard came up.
Eddie played for three different ballclubs during his career. How did you handle the relocation process?
I was not there for the first trade from Cleveland to the Astros but I know Eddie put a lot of pressure on himself at a very young age because of that move. My first trade was Houston to the Reds. It was super hard since I had made very very close friendships with a group of girls that did at least one fun thing each road trip together. I didn’t know if I would find that on the next team. Eddie got traded while on the road, mid-afternoon, they wanted him to play in Cincy that night. I don’t think most people understand how quickly they expect the guys to mentally adapt. I flew in on the red eye and we walked around the downtown until after lunch to find an apartment since we didn’t have a car. The team left the next day and I flew back to Houston, packed up and moved it all in the new place in a week. I remember thinking, “Wow, I can do anything if I can swing this!” One thing that really helped was that on my first night in Cincinnati I got to the game a bit early and Corrie Foster, wife of pitcher Steve Foster, was waiting for me. She asked if I was Eddie’s wife as I found my seat and said, “Our husbands played together in the minors. I wanted to make sure to welcome you and introduce you to everyone.” One small gesture that I know didn’t seem like much to her at the time, but it made a profound impact on me. I made a point to always be that for other girls in the future. We all get moved around, we all struggle to catch up, and I wanted to be that little encouragement to others in the future. The next trade we laughed because it was just up I75 to Cleveland and wasn’t much of a challenge. Plus, I knew girls on that team, so I was excited to get some time with their families.
What sacrifices have you had to make during your role as a baseball wife? Now that Eddie has retired, how has your life changed?
I had some unique sacrifices being from another country. I had to give up my homeland, my job, and know I would not see my family much. I knew they wouldn’t even get to see Eddie play much being from a western province and Eddie being in the National League. I had to go through the full immigration process so I couldn’t work for over a year and when I did get a job he was traded a short time later, right before I would have started. In the end it helped me focus on us and seeing these challenges as an adventure we were choosing to be on. After becoming a Christian in 1993 the challenges helped me to focus more on prayer and seeking what God wanted me to do with the time I had in the place I was. I loved volunteering all over the cities we were in, making lasting impacts through foundations and organizations we supported. Mostly I found that God wanted me to focus on bringing some hope, grace, and love to the girls I got to be around everyday. With Eddie at home were were able to focus together on encouraging and uplifting players and wives full time through Pro Athletes Outreach. We get to be together 24/7, which most couples would dread, but we have been blessed over the years to learn great communication skills and how to treat each other with love and respect, showing grace at all times. We laugh a lot and pour everything we have into our 3 very different boys.
What advice would you offer new MLB wives just entering the league?
Be all in. Don’t try to live two separate lives, this is your life. It may look different than your parent’s or friend’s marriage but that doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing and wonderful. Work to really build relationships with other wives in your home city and on other teams, you will get traded and it’s nice to have a friend there waiting! Look for ways to keep from getting caught up in all the “stuff”. I like a great outfit and a beautiful piece of jewelry as much as anyone else but I have heard that your check book is a statement on what you believe in, who you are… Does it reflect what you want it to? Find a way to get involved in your city. You live in a spotlight so why not share the limelight with a great cause?
It’s no secret the MLB schedule is quite lengthy. What are some of the fun things you and Eddie used to do during the offseason?
The baseball offseason goes by so fast! We vacationed to visit my family in Canada sometimes, we took a few beach trips, but really the focus was on being together, and going to Disney:). Since our first Pro Athlete’s Outreach conference in 1995, we made a point to attend every year. We really felt refreshed and renewed after each conference, learned practical skills for parenting and communicating together, and made great friendships with other older and younger couples in the game.
How did you manage to balance your responsibilities as mother and the role of baseball wife?
Our kids were a part of our life in baseball from the time they were born. Justin, our oldest son, was born during the season and started going to games at about 5 weeks old. They had their friends on teams and friends at home, schedule for sleep during the season that matched our hours and schedule during the offseason that matched their friends. My kids can fall asleep anywhere, make friends with ease, are self confident and not afraid to try new things. I think a huge part of that came from how we approached our life in baseball and still approach life now.
Now you’re active in Pro Athletes Outreach. Tell your fellow Sisters a little more about the organization. What got you involved as an ambassador?
I tell people all the time, all the best things I have learned to make our marriage better, make me a better parent, help me make wise decisions, I learned from people at a PAO Conference. Pro Athlete’s Outreach is a Christian organization that hosts amazing conferences during the off seasons of the NFL and MLB, as well as a number of regional coaches conferences. PAO brings in the best teachers on the subjects of Faith, Family and Finances. The great thing about the organization is that the topics and speakers are selected by current and retired players who serve on the board of directors both in the MLB and NFL so that even the daily choices for workshops to attend are tailored to life in the game. One of our favorite things about the conference is walking into a room filled with peers from all across the league who know your life, have no expectations, there’s no explaining things, no autographs, just a great place to get real life advice and build real friendships. The conferences are always in great resorts where you can relax during the down times in the day and connect with each other. We mix in great nationally known Christian speakers like Francis Chan and David Platt with players and wives like Lance and Cara Berkman and Gari Meacham (wife of player/coach Bobby Meacham) who share their own experiences to help encourage others. The conference is in the first week of December and more information can be found on the website www.pao.org.
Conferences are open to any pro sports player or couple, as a matter of fact we are launching an NBA conference this summer!
What role has faith played in both yours and Eddie’s marriage? His professional sports career? Your personal life?
When Eddie and I got married neither of us were Christians and both came from broken homes. We didn’t know how to communicate, work together, or treat each other. We almost got divorced our first year. After becoming Christians we understood how much grace had been given to us by God and began to truly learn to honor, love, and respect each other. The closer we have grown to God the closer we become, because we know that no matter the issue we can overcome it through honesty and unconditional love and grace. When I became a Christian I let go of the hurts I had from the past and learned to be real with people while never judging anyone for where they are. I have lived in some darkness, so my focus is always to bring some light and hope to others. Eddie learned how to be confident in the amazing abilities God gave him and how to be a leader. When we met he barely spoke, now he has traveled the world speaking, he teaches Bible study from Spring through the end of Rookie Ball, and we host a national conference. We love pouring into other people’s lives the same way that God has allowed people to do for us.
What are your thoughts on Sisters in Sports? Any words of encouragement for fellow spouses to join?
I love the idea of girls connecting with other wives in their sport and the wives of players in other sports. I think we all have so much in common and can offer each other such great advice! Glad there is another place people can connect!