Teixeira talks faith, humility at Moving in the Spirit breakfast

April 16, 2019

Mark Teixeira has won countless awards during his career as a Georgia Tech and Major League Baseball star, but he said none of his success could have been achieved without faith in God.

“I knew who God was growing up, but I didn’t know God until I met my wife (Leigh) in college. That’s when I really knew God,” Teixeira said. “She showed me that praying about your anxieties. You saw the church (Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris) yesterday on fire and you pray. It keeps me grounded. We all struggle. We struggle with lots of things.

“I’m still on that faith journey. You look at it as a football game. I’m still in my own territory. I’m not even in my opponents’ territory and thinking about scoring a touchdown yet.”

Teixeira spoke on his faith and more April 16 at the 10th annual Founding Fathers Breakfast at the Peachtree Golf Club in Brookhaven. The Founding Fathers is a group of about 100 men belonging to Men in Motion, a division of Moving in the Spirit, an Atlanta-based youth development program that “uses dance to teach young people the social, emotional and cognitive skills they need to thrive,” according to its website.

The breakfast also included a ceremony where five boys with Moving in the Spirit received blue blazers to signify leadership.

“The blue blazer is the number one piece you must have in your wardrobe to be an effective leader,” said Chris McCord, Moving in the Spirit’s ambassador and Men in Motion’s director.

Teixeira, who played for the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers for a combined 14 years before retiring in 2016, said humility also helped ground him as a player and a person.

“I started my (Major League) career 0-for-15, the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “I thought I was getting sent down (to the minors) after every single game. I would run past the manager’s office after every game. I thought I was getting the pink slip for every single game. That was the best thing for my career. I realized it was not easy. Enjoy your success.”

Today Teixeira, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, spends one week per month in Atlanta and has a second home in Midtown. He works as an MLB analyst for ESPN and is also a board member with and co-founder of the Emerald Corridor Foundation, a nonprofit aiming to revitalize northwest Atlanta’s Proctor Creek and its surrounding neighborhoods. The foundation started working to improve the area in 2008 and is building a mixed-use development in the area.

“We started buying property, started master planning with the community,” Teixeira said. “One of the first things we saw was Proctor Creek was in terrible shape. Forty percent of the city’s pollutants came through there. We want to the community and they said, ‘We want jobs, jobs, jobs,’ and we developed things to create jobs. We built 177 units of affordable housing. We want to build things to allow people to live there and stay there. It’s on the BeltLine.”

Before the five boys, whose last names were not released to protect their privacy, received their blue blazers, they talked about what Moving in the Spirit had taught them about life.

“I usually have to speak out at school because that’s one of the places where you’re most judged or taken advantage of,” Jordan, 11, said. “I had to speak up when my friend was getting bullied, and the bully was one of my other friends. I wanted to keep that friend but I wanted to stand up to the other friend and we ended up all three being friends.”

Terry, also 11, said, “I would say freedom means to speak up and fight for your rights if the other person says you can’t do the things you can do. If someone says you can’t do something because you’re this and I’m that, it’s not true. Even though we’re all different people, we all came from one person (God).”

For more information on Moving in the Spirit, visit www.movinginthespirit.org.