- June 8, 2017
For Horizon West resident and former Winter Garden Squeeze manager and coach Eddie Taubensee, there’s no better place to be than on a baseball field.
Eddie has been a catcher in the minor and major leagues, worked with the Squeeze, helped run a ministry for professional athletes and been involved with the Orlando KLIFE youth ministry.
Now, he’s gearing up to head back over to the minor leagues as a hitting instructor.
He had started connecting with minor-league teams last May, and it was the San Francisco Giants’ minor league that contacted him about getting involved. After flying out to meet the Giants major-league manager, coaches and those in charge of the minor-league operations, he knew it was where he wanted to be.
Starting in February 2017, he’ll be with the Giants’ minor-league organization as a hitting coach. It’s a job that will force him to be away from home from the middle of February to the beginning of September. It’ll be tough on his wife, René, and their youngest son — a junior in high school — but they know it’s where he has been called to be.
FAITH ON AND OFF THE FIELD
Eddie, who grew up in Casselberry and was originally set to play at UCF, always has had a passion for baseball. He played five-and-one-half years in the minors, straight out of high school, before going on to spend 11 years total with the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians. An injury at 32 ended his pro career.
“I started playing organized ball when I was 10 and never stopped playing since until I had to quit at 32,” he said. “I still love playing baseball and practicing with my kids, and I love being around the baseball field.”
But he also has another fire for his Christian faith, which he’s been able to meld seamlessly with his love for baseball.
“Coaching and my faith go side by side,” he said. “Everything about my Christian faith is thinking of others more than myself and serving them and that’s exactly what I’m doing as a coach. I’m coming alongside these players doing everything I can to make them the best player they can be and move them on to the next level.”
“It’s (faith) given us stability, it’s given us hope and direction,” René added. “It’s gotten us through all the ups and downs. Showing people the positive even in a hard time, Eddie’s good at that.”
Through a ministry called Pro Athletes Outreach, the Taubensees stay active in connecting with pro baseball players, their wives and families.
“We put on big conferences in the offseason, faith-based for the NFL football players and for professional baseball,” Eddie said. “We run the baseball side. That keeps us connected with players in the major and minor leagues. We’ve been doing that since we got out of the game and I’ll be on the inside now impacting the game of baseball in that way, along with coaching.”
PAO’s peer-to-peer ministry provides an outlet for them to receive a different kind of coaching — life coaching.
“People outside the game have a hard time understanding life in the game,” René said. “They (the players) walk in, they see their peers there and they know no one wants anything from them, no one asks for autographs and no one judges them.”
They’re also involved as board presidents in Orlando’s branch of KLIFE, a community youth group that serves South Orlando and West Orange County. According to its website, KLIFE is a “community-wide, interdenominational Christian ministry of discipleship and fellowship for youth and their families.”
Orlando KLIFE has a house in Gotha with three full-time staff members who are always available for local youth to come by and hang out in a safe place.
“The goal is to provide a safe place for kids to come and ask questions, learn about the Bible and God,” Eddie said.
Eddie also earned an online certification in biblical and theological studies from the Dallas Theological Seminary and has served as a chaplain for the Atlanta Braves’ minor-league organization.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
The players Eddie has worked with know there’s something different about him. But it’s not because he talks to them about his faith — it’s because he shows it.
“The goal is to provide a safe place for kids to come and ask questions, learn about the Bible and God. They can be open and welcome and have fun together.”— Eddie Taubensee
“Being a man of faith doesn’t mean I don’t fight for my team,” he said. “When it’s time to go out there and stand up for something I believe is right, I’m going to do it. I have the same fire as them, I push them hard and get on them hard and praise them.”
René added that faith plays out into daily life in the form of choosing to do the right thing.
“When you’re living a life or Christ like that, you’re always choosing to do the right thing,” she said. “You’re not doing anything underhanded. If you have to get on a kid you’re going to do it the right way, in a way that encourages and challenges them so they know what to expect from you. You’re always going to be solid, truthful and straightforward.”
And as he heads back into the pro ranks, he’s excited to bring that faith and determination to be different along with him.
“I dream baseball every night,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back in the game. It’s something I love, and I think I’ve been wired not only to play but (also) to coach. It’s just something that comes naturally, and I look forward to all the ups and downs.”
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected]