Jordy Mercer, shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, experienced “encounters” with the Lord growing up. He was always active and involved in Sunday School classes, worship services, and vacation Bible school, each helping him experience the Lord in His Word and understanding what it means to be a Christian. Mercer remembers being baptized at age 12. “I remember reaching out to the Lord and asking Jesus to come into my heart, and my life began to slowly change.” Jordy continues, “I remember my pastor, Rev. Bob Johnson, from Taloga Christian Church in Taloga, Oklahoma, coming to our home a couple of nights before being baptized. He had a couple of questions to ask: are you 100% committed to follow the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Are you ready to invite him into your heart? I replied ‘absolutely, without a doubt, 100% sure.’ It seemed everything was in the right place. Since then, it has been an amazing walk (with the Lord), and I continue to try to get closer to Him each day.”
Pirates manager, Clint Hurdle, commented, “Jordy’s walk with the Lord is special and significant. He is a man of action and very intentional. He
holds himself well in public life. He pours into his family which is where I have seen his greatest growth. I have watched him go from dating his girlfriend, to marrying his girlfriend who is now his wife and a mother. He is a husband and a daddy to three boys. Fantastic! Jordy has a servant’s heart in the clubhouse. He plays the game right with respect and honor. Really, in his own way, he keeps his light lit for Jesus all the time.”
Mercer grew up in Taloga, Oklahoma, in western Oklahoma, with his parents, Rick and Tammy Mercer, and older sister, Randi. Taloga has a population of about 300. Jordy had seven graduating classmates in the class of 2005. He grew up on a farm and loved it, and he tries to get back as often as possible to help on the farm and spend time with his family. He shares, “It was fun growing up in a small town. You know everyone and the atmosphere is more relaxed. I was just blessed to be in a small community like that. People still support me and my career. My friends still contact me and stay in touch. My parents relay messages to me from folks back home. It is cool to grow up in a neat community like Taloga.”
“You Can Stay Firm”
Jordy has a “walk-up” song played before each home at bat. The group “The Roostz” was on the Jimmy Fallon show when he heard the song “The Fire”. “I chose this song because it is a pump-up song and gets me going as I get into the batter’s box.” Jordy has a “go to” verse that he takes wherever he goes: Psalms 16:8: “For I know the Lord is always with me; I will not be shaken for He is always beside me.” This verse is relevant when it comes to baseball. Mercer explains, “No matter how good or how bad you do, you can stay firm because the Lord is beside you. He will take care of you. I believe Philippians 4:13 is a great verse also, but I always go back to Psalms 16:8 in times of need. I always keep that verse around me, in my phone, my locker, my Bible, places where it is easy to find anytime. It is always a good reminder.”
Mercer has found that Christ has changed the way he looks at things. He looks at more positives now, and he sees there is so much more to life. “As baseball players,” comments Mercer, “this is a tough business. I related it to a player who goes through ups and downs on the field and having to be away from family. I find having Christ by my side helps me keep a positive outlook. I know everything is going to be fine”.” He continues, “Christ has been the One who gave me the blessing (talent) to use it the best I possibly can. For me, it is staying positive and continuing to believe it will be fine. It is all in His hands. We are not in control; it is all His. I have given everything to the Lord, and He will take care of it in His own way.”
“Need More Seasoning”
Taloga, being a small community, only had baseball in the fall and spring and basketball in the winter because of the small enrollment. Most baseball players played on the basketball team. During Jordy’s senior year, the basketball team was pretty good and went on a run. He was a starter who played different positions, and the team played well. The run took them all the way to state which in Jordy’s words, was “a pretty cool experience.” Jordy earned All-State honors in high school in baseball. His junior year Taloga won the state championship. The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the 26th round (796th overall) of the 2005 major league baseball draft but he did not sign. He felt he needed more “seasoning.”
Jordy received a scholarship to play baseball at Oklahoma State University at Stillwater which is in the Big 12 Conference. He claims it was some of the “best three years of his life.” College helped him grow to be a professional baseball player. He went to OSU to up his game. Mercer was a shortstop and a pitcher as the role of a closer. When he left, he held the OSU record for saves. However, it was his “glove and stick” that got him on the Big 12 All-Star team in 2006 and 2008. “I got some Big 12 honors, but I am more of a ‘team first’ guy. I would not be where I am today if not for my teammates.” Mercer competed for the United States in the 2007 and 2011 Pan American games, winning silver in both. He also competed in the 2011 Baseball World Cup.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Mercer in the third round (79th overall) in the 2008 major league draft as a shortstop. Mercer was brought up to the parent club on May 29, 2012, and made his first major league appearance May 30, 2012, getting his first major league hit the same day. He has been a regular on the roster since 2014.
Oklahoma State is a special place in his heart because it was there he met his wife, Kasey, between his sophomore and junior years. Jordy shares, “I was friends with one of Kasey’s best friends (Joli) on Facebook, and I had seen pictures of Kasey on Joli’s Facebook. I was intrigued with Kasey, and I thought she was most attractive. I reached out to Joli to ask her to help me meet Kasey. I was told Kasey had a boyfriend at the time, but I told Joli I really want to meet Kasey.” Jordy continues, “My roommate and I planned a get together at our house, and I asked Joli to bring Kasey. Kasey had recently broken up with her boyfriend, and Joli got Kasey to come. It was love at first sight for me, but Kasey played a little hard to get because she was not yet sold on me. I had to work hard to win her affection, but it was worth the effort.”
Soon, Jordy and Kasey began hanging out together that later led to dating. They made it official when they started wedding plans. They were married January 16, 2010, in Edmond, Oklahoma, and they are now parents of three boys, Maverick (6), Maddon (3), and Manning (1). “I have been super blessed, and she is the glue that keeps the family together.” Jordy was an education major and Kasey received a degree in apparel merchandise.
“Keep Each Other Accountable”
Teammate, Josh Harrison, shares, “I was traded to Pittsburgh in 2009 while in the minor leagues. Jordy was my first friend, and he literally took me in. I slept on his pullout couch. That shows you the type of heart he has. He did not know me nor I of him, but he knew I was new to the organization. He opened his home for me to stay. We have been good friends ever since. Seeing how he has grown in his walk is encouraging. We have seen each other from the time we were both single, to now being married and having multiple kids who know each other. It has been a blessing to play next to him for these years, and we try to keep each other accountable.”
Jordy’s most important mission field to witness to is his family. “I always send my wife the daily quote or Bible verse of the day. We are more involved with our kids and lead them to Christ as early as possible. We want them growing up knowing their home is a ‘Christ centered’ household. We pray with them, read Bible stories and take them to church and its programs. As a dad, you can’t wait to share Christ with them.” The Mercers make their off-season home in Edmond, Oklahoma, and they attend Crossings Church in Oklahoma City with Pastor Marty Grubbs. Kasey grew up in this church, and Jordy and Kasey and the kids love it there with the many programs for the kids and Bible studies for them.
The most recent public witness he participated in happened at the Pirates’ Faith Night after a game at PNC Park. Clint Hurdle was a key person who helped start Faith Night in Pittsburgh. “It was our fifth year to have Faith Night at PNC Park, and the crowds have grown every year. This year Josh Harrison and I shared our faith journey with the fans. It was an opportunity for me to use baseball as a platform and reach out.” Jordy also uses social media to share Scripture and quotes to help those who might be having a bad day or need uplifting.
Pirates chaplain, Rev. Brad Henderson, shares, “Jordy continues to be a strong spiritual leader for the Pirates. He did a fantastic job when he shared his faith journey with 15,000 fans at Faith Night in July (2018).”
People will always face struggles in life, even professional athletes. The struggles could be personal temptations or being away from family. The athletes also have struggles in their game. “Baseball is a hard game to play, and you have people criticizing your game. One day you are doing the best you cans, and the next day you are not very good. For me, I must stay positive and stay focused while knowing everything is going to be fine.”
Jordy Mercer’s personal relationship with Christ has kept him strong in the faith. He shares, “As I have grown older I have grown closer to God. I know having Jesus Christ in my heart, no matter my mistakes and whatever happens in any situation, He will always have my back, He will always take care of me and He will lead me in the right direction.”
By Bruce A. Darnall, Lake Mills, WI
Photos by Pittsburgh Pirates