Archive for December 27, 2007

Lord’s Blessing and Hard Work Pay Off For Holliday


Colorado Rockies Outfielder Matt Holliday, coming off a dream season with the National League champs in which he finished runner-up in league Most Valuable Player voting, returned to Stillwater High School to have his No. 24 baseball jersey retired.

The 2007 season was special for Holliday, who earned an All-Star Game appearance and helped Colorado reach its first World Series.

So does Holliday ever pinch himself, wondering if he’s living a dream life?

“In high school, I never dreamed I would have the chance to play in the major leagues or play in the World Series. With the Lord’s blessings and hard work, I’ve been able to do that. I always thought I had the talent, but I’ve learned that you have to keep working at things every day. With hard work, you can achieve your dreams.”


December 27, 2007 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment

More on Tebow


Football rates a mere fourth on his list of priorities behind God, family and academics. Even so, in New York City Dec. 8 Tim Tebow became the first college sophomore to win the famed Heisman Trophy in the 70-plus years of the award.

“I’d just like to first start off by thanking my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who gave me the ability to play football and gave me a great family and a support group and great coaches and everything around me,” a breathless Tebow said at the ceremony, moments after the award was announced. Going on to thank teammates, high school coaches, his parents and siblings, Tebow repeated thanks to Jesus Christ and drew laughter when pledging his love for his chosen school for the third time.

“I love the University of Florida, I love being a Gator. I love Gator Nation,” Tebow said. A homeschool student who played for Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Tebow helped Florida win a national title last season as the Gators’ backup. He is the first major college player to run for at least 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in the same season. This year’s 22 rushing TDs are tied for the FBS record (formerly Division 1-A) for rushing TDs in a season by a quarterback.

Tebow, affectionately referred to as “Timmy” by his family, is the youngest child of Bob and Pam Tebow, missionaries to the Philippines through Bob Tebow Evangelistic Ministries, supported by First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. In a profile aired on ESPN during the Heisman award ceremony, Tebow said his priorities are: “number one, my faith in God; number two, my family and my relationships with my family; number three, academics; and number four is football.”

His mother, Pam Tebow, in the profile, said she declined the advice of a doctor to get an abortion after she became seriously ill and dehydrated when pregnant with Tim, her fifth child while living overseas. Bob Tebow said his son is a “miracle baby and so we have reminded him that hundreds of times.” He was homeschooled but allowed to play high school football thanks to a Florida law.

Tebow said in the profile he wants to be a standout both on and off the field.

“Through everything that I do in football, in school, in living, I want people to see that in me,” Tebow said. “I don’t want to be just another guy who’s walking down the street. I want when people see me they say, ‘Hey, there’s something different about this guy, and that’s because he has a relationship with Jesus Christ.'”

Crediting his family with teaching him priorities, Tebow said his dad taught him about character and his mom taught him to memorize Scripture verses. Brothers and sisters created a path for him by which he is able to “just follow in their footsteps,” he said.

“God gave me the ability to play football and I’m just trying to go out there and honor Him with it and just be as passionate and enthusiastic about it as I can,” Tebow reiterated. “It’s a game that I love and you’ve got to remember that He gave me the ability and the opportunity to play and it can be gone at any moment.”

After receiving the Heisman, Tebow was thorough in his thanks and praise of those who have shaped and taught him, inside and out.

“I am fortunate for a lot of things. God has truly blessed me and I am blessed with so much stuff,” Tebow said. “I’m just thankful and this is such an honor and I am so happy to be here.”

His pastor at FBC Jacksonville, Mac Brunson, said he knew of the Tebow family’s reputation when he was pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas before coming to Jacksonville nearly 18 months ago. Tebow’s sister, Christy Tebow-Allen, and her husband were members of First Baptist Dallas while her husband studied at Dallas Theological Seminary, and Brunson knew the youngest Tebow was being highly recruited as a high school senior and had an excellent Christian testimony.

His reputation was so sterling Brunson almost landed him as a youth speaker in Dallas but scheduling conflicts with the University of Florida prevented that from taking place.

“We knew of his testimony, we knew what a great athlete he was,” Brunson told the Florida Baptist Witness. On moving on to the ministry at First Baptist in Jacksonville, Brunson said he met Tebow’s parents and gained even more insight into the family dynamic.

“I think who he is is a great tribute to his mom and his dad, in fact the whole family,” Brunson said. “It’s a family that’s incredibly dedicated to the Lord, dedicated to missions. They walk the walk. They just don’t talk about it; they really walk the walk. It’s a close family, and you have to admire the family, not just Tim, but the entire family as well for their commitment to the Lord and the Lord’s work.

“They are really an example of what a family can be under Christ because all of them are so gifted in so many different ways,” Brunson continued. “He’s got a brother who is an incredible athlete. He has a sister who is an incredible teacher. His mother speaks, his dad preaches and has this mission effort in the Philippines. They’re all just talented, gifted. They’re close. They’re a great example of what a family can be when Christ is Lord of everyone’s life.”

Brunson said he believes Tebow has had a “phenomenal” sophomore year statistically, but even better are the postgame interviews and the ongoing Christian witness that’s quickly becoming his trademark.

“He’s just a great witness. He recognizes that his ability is a God-given gift,” Brunson said. “Tim Tebow is the All-American athletic hero. He is clean cut, he comes from a solid family, he has great athletic ability, he’s humble with it, [and] it’s not gone to his head.”

Calling Tebow a “real leader,” Brunson said the young athlete understands leading by example as an athlete and as a Christian.

“I’m happy for him. I really do what Paul says, I’m rejoicing with my brother in not only what God has done in his life, but in what God is doing in his life. I think this is so good for those of us who are Christians that the world gets to see a young man that is so stable and secure and founded in his walk with the Lord.”

Tebow isn’t the only major college quarterback who is a member of FBC Jacksonville. Florida Atlantic QB Rusty Smith, whose team is placing in the New Orleans Bowl Dec. 21, is, too.

“We are probably the only church in the country that has two starting QBs at 1-A schools and both of them are going to be in bowls,” Brunson said. “We’re just turning out QBs down here.”

December 27, 2007 at 8:31 pm Leave a comment

Union athletes bring Christmas cheer to abused children


JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)-Union University athletic teams joined with other groups and individual across the Union campus Dec. 3 to help several children have a special night.

Each Christmas, Union University teams up with the Carl Perkins Center for Child Abuse in Jackson to give children a night of fun, food and gifts.

“Being a part of this activity was such a refreshing experience,” said junior volleyball player Lindsey Wallach. “The joy and laughter that the gifts brought to the girl we sponsored was priceless. The screams of excitement and smiles of happiness reminded me of what this season is about: giving because God gave His son for us.”

December 27, 2007 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Christian coach helps Appalachian State claim third straight national title


Jerry Moore hoists the Football Championship Subdivision national title trophy, the third straight title for him at Appalachian State University. – Photo by Tim Davin/ASU Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Capping a memorable season, the Appalachian State Mountaineers crushed Delaware 49-21 Dec. 14 to win their third straight Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) national title.

For Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore, a member of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, N.C., it’s yet another milestone in a storied career. Moore is the winningest coach in Southern Conference history and has compiled a 167-70 record over the past 19 years at ASU.

“Jerry Moore is one of the most solid, faithful Christian believers that I know,” said Allan Blume, senior pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church. “Everybody here has the greatest admiration and respect for him.”

In a Baptist Press story about Moore earlier this year, Moore talked about his devotional practices.

“When I get up in the morning, I’ll pour myself a cup of coffee and I won’t read a newspaper,” Moore told BP. “I won’t watch the news. I won’t read a flyer that may be laying there. I won’t read anything until I’ve read my five psalms and one proverb. I haven’t been a hundred percent, but I’ve started nearly every day that way since 1989.”

Blume said he spoke to Moore at church on Sunday morning following Appalachian State’s victory over Delaware and congratulated him on the win.

Moore replied that “I don’t know if there’s ever been a time in my life that I was prayed for more than this event,” Blume said.

The national championship for Appalachian State was the culmination of a season that started with an unlikely win over Michigan. In a Dec. 13 USA Today article, Moore said that the Michigan win “was a great history-maker. It’s good for college football and good for the underdog.”

But Moore acknowledged that the win also led to “a lot of distractions in different ways.” After a 3-0 start to the season, the Mountaineers lost to Wofford and Georgia Southern in a four-game stretch.

ASU, however, rallied from those defeats and won eight straight games to close out the season with the championship game in Chattanooga, Tenn.

On a side note, ASU safety Corey Lynch, a senior, is engaged to Cissie Graham, the daughter of Franklin Graham and granddaughter of Billy Graham. Lynch and Graham will marry on Dec. 31.

December 27, 2007 at 8:22 pm Leave a comment

Bottenfield finds passion after baseball


Kent Bottenfield has seen a lot in the last 10 years, from a burgeoning Major League Baseball career to a blown-out shoulder to a newfound path to success in the form of singing and songwriting.

He says none of it would have happened without his devotion to Christ, which is why he has released two albums in the up-and-coming Christian genre that has led his family to Nashville.

Bottenfield played in the Majors for nine years as a right-handed starter for the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Anaheim Angels, Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros.

In the early part of his career, he was still working on his musical hobby as a singer, songwriter, and behind-the-scenes guy in music studios when he wasn’t at the ballpark. But in 1996, he gave up music to concentrate all his time on baseball, and it paid off.

He had a breakout year for the Cardinals in 1999, going 18-7 with a 3.97 ERA, pitching in the All-Star Game and earning enough of a reputation to be traded the next offseason for then-All-Star outfielder Jim Edmonds of the Angels.

In 2000, Bottenfield struggled with the Angels and was traded. His shoulder was hurt and he would never be the same athlete.

“With baseball, what turned my career around was all the extra work I did with video,” Bottenfield says. “I watched hours and hours of video between starts of opposing hitters and my game plans were very effective. And it happened because I had dropped the music. Instead of taking a keyboard up to my hotel room, I would have VCRs brought up to the room to watch game tape. It was almost an obsession, and it opened up a whole new world for me.”

In 2002, with baseball finally in his rear-view mirror and his faith the ever-present navigator at his side, music came back into his life.

“It had been six years since I had touched a piano and done writing, and it felt like I was starting all over again,” Bottenfield says. “But I still had passion.”

That passion has led to success Bottenfield says he could have never predicted. His debut album, Take Me Back, showed Bottenfield to be a writer of catchy, enjoyable songs with a powerful Christian message. The album garnered rave reviews in the Christian music scene and got him some high-profile gigs, although he admits it was daunting to play in front of people.

“I didn’t enjoy the spotlight as a baseball player,” Bottenfield explains. “My line of thinking was always, ‘Do your job, go home, and don’t get caught up in the hype.’ So singing and speaking in front of people scared me to death. I just didn’t like it.

“If I was just doing one song, I would have the words written in at least two different places on the stage so I could look down and not get lost. And I’d highlight each word in a different color so I wouldn’t mess up. I’m serious.”

Things got better, though.

With more performances, more positive reviews, and more believers taking notice of his music, Bottenfield became more confident and more polished in his craft.

The result of that progression is his latest album, Back in the Game, released in September. For the first time, Bottenfield said, he felt comfortable enough to bring baseball into his music. The cover of the album shows the singer resting on a ballpark wall with a stadium light visible in the background.

The title track begins with these lyrics: “Green, green grass and blue, blue skies/A child’s game seen by a million eyes/A boyhood dream that came to life/Wasn’t this meant for some other guy?”

The song details the ups and downs of his two careers and the path to self-fulfillment that he’s finally found himself on.

“I always looked at baseball and music as being two separate things in my life,” Bottenfield says. “I knew being a Major League player was a blessing, and that’s still part of who I am, but I still don’t throw it out there in front of everybody.

“With this song, it’s a child’s perspective — the beauty of the grass and sky and getting to go out and play, but it also has a message deeper than that.”

Bottenfield says he’ll continue to write and play music until his life’s journey takes him in another direction.

“Hopefully a vocal cord doesn’t blow or something like that,” he says with a laugh.

“But it’s gone well on many fronts. Christian music is not the greatest way to riches, I’ll tell you that. But being out in front of people and able to share with people a life story that’s had many things in it, some good and some not so good, I’ve been able to be out in front of and heard by millions.

“That’s something to be truly thankful for.”

December 27, 2007 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

Josh Hamilton traded to Rangers

The Rangers acquired center fielder Josh Hamilton from the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Edinson Volquez and Minor League reliever Danny Herrera.

Hamilton was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays with the first overall pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft but had to overcome a long history of personal issues and drug abuse before reaching the Major Leagues. Picked up a year ago by the Reds in the Rule 5 Draft, Hamilton, 26, hit .292 with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs in 298 at-bats this past season.

To complete the deal, Hamilton underwent a complete physical on Friday. His past personal problems have made headlines, but his physical problems have also been extensive. He was on the disabled list twice last season, first because of gastroenteritis and then because of a sprained right wrist.

“We were more concerned about the medical issues,” Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. “I really challenged JD [Daniels] to make sure he felt strongly about this trade.”

The off-field issues still had to be addressed, both by Hicks and Daniels. Hamilton missed 3 1/2 years from 2002-2006 because of his drug problems while going in and out of rehabilitation eight different times. He said he has been clean for over two years and his arrival in the Major Leagues last season appeared to be in the end of a long, hard road.

“I’ve never met anybody who hasn’t made a mistake in the past or wrestled with demons,” Hamilton said. “The main thing is you learn from it and you don’t repeat it. I’ve taken some steps in my life to put God and my family first. I have a good support system in place and I’m very comfortable in saying that the past is in the past and the future is brighter.

“Now I really want to show these guys what I can do.”


December 27, 2007 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

Scott returning to work while undergoing chemotherapy

ESPN anchor Stuart Scott is returning to work less than a month after an emergency appendectomy discovered a malignancy that will result in Scott undergoing chemotherapy this winter.

Following his appendectomy in late November, Scott had a second precautionary surgery to remove the tissue surrounding his appendix. Doctors treating Scott are confident any cancerous tissue was removed, but recommended preventative chemotherapy.

Scott was in Pittsburgh for a Nov. 26 game between the Steelers and Miami when he became ill.

“Talk about a shocker,” Scott said. “But I feel good, am in great hands medically and the doctors are confident they got all the bad stuff. I’m not the type of guy to let this eat up my life. I’ve got strong faith and family and friends who are tackling this with me. I can’t find the words to express how much I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers. I probably won’t be able to get back to you all; but know it means a ton.”

Scott will host Friday night’s ESPN NBA coverage, and lead the coverage of ABC’s Christmas Day studio show.

Said ESPN president George Bodenheimer: ” Stuart is approaching this fight with the same passion and energy we see on air. We’re all encouraged that he is feeling so strong. He knows he has our full support and we look forward to the day when this is all behind him.”

December 27, 2007 at 7:40 pm Leave a comment

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