Posts tagged ‘baseball’
You�d think a longtime major league pitcher � especially one who made millions of dollars as a 19-year veteran, former All-Star and member of multiple playoff teams � would kick back and relax for awhile after retiring. Maybe travel to exotic locations or buy a mansion and sip daiquiris by the pool.
Not Scott Sanderson.
�I took three weeks off after my last game and then started representing players,� he said. �I knew later in my career that this is what I wanted to do.� (more…)
Todd Jones vividly remembers his worst outing ever.
It was June 1, 2007, and the Detroit Tigers were at Cleveland. The Indians were threatening to close a 9-5 deficit in the eighth inning, so Detroit manager Jim Leyland brought in Jones, the team�s veteran closer, to nail the game shut. Two runs scored before Jones retired the side, but the Tigers spotted him two more runs in the top of the ninth.
It wasn�t enough. Jones imploded in the bottom of the ninth, surrendering a three-run homer to Victor Martinez and two more runs to absorb a bitter 12-11 loss.
�That was nice,� Jones recalled, sarcastically. �There�s usually one game a year where a fan leans over and says, �Mr. Jones, are sure you�re right-handed?�� (more…)
Article from March, 2007:
Some of the nation’s top athletes from Major League Baseball (MLB) are sharing and revealing their faith in an upcoming film that premieres today in Phoenix.
All-stars such as catcher Mike Piazza, pitcher Tom Glavine, National League Championship MVP Jeff Suppan, Royals Captain Mike Sweeney, and many more will star in Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition, where each player will discuss how their relationship with Christ has shaped their careers within professional baseball.
According to a preview, “these superstars of America’s favorite pastime speak frankly about family, faith, sacrifice, leadership, humility and the many virtues and spiritual lessons they have learned from the game.”
Including within the movie will be high-definition game highlights alongside the players’ testimonies, which will allow viewers to see the public and personal lives of the subjects and how God has affected those.
Contained in the video is inspirational, uplifting music from famed singer, Bob Dylan, who had a powerful conversion in his life late in his singing career. He is known as one of the greatest songwriters in history. (more…)
Travis Fryman knows stats are the main criteria for a player to get into the Hall of Fame, and he keeps his expectations accordingly grounded with his name on the ballot for the first time.
If part of the measure of a player is the effect he has on his teammates, however, then Fryman can look back on his days in uniform and feel pretty happy. That’s how he likes to look at his career, and that’s one reason he’s giving himself a shot at managing.
“That would be what I am most proud of in my career,” Fryman said, “not what I ever did between the chalk lines, but the changes that took place in my life, to the point that I began to care for the men that I played with and try to contribute to their success in life and their careers. Some of those relationships continue even through today. (more…)
Article from October, 2007 about Colorado Rockies faith:
As a Jewish player who attended a Catholic high school and a Lutheran university, Jason Hirsh knows what being a religious minority feels like. So last December, when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, Hirsh wondered if what he had heard about his new organization was true.
Now, Hirsh said not once during the season had he felt uncomfortable with the place Christianity occupies within the organization.
“There are guys who are religious, sure, but they don’t impress it upon anybody,” Hirsh said. “It’s not like they hung a cross in my locker or anything. They’ve accepted me for who I am and what I believe in.”
The role of religion within the Rockies organization first entered the public sphere in May 2006, when an article in USA Today described the organization as adhering to a “Christian-based code of conduct” and the clubhouse as a place where Bibles were read and Maxim and Playboy were banned. (more…)
Here is an article from June 2006 about the Colorado Rockies’ faith:
No copies of Playboy or Penthouse are in the clubhouse of baseball’s Colorado Rockies. There’s not even a Maxim. The only reading materials are daily newspapers, sports and car magazines and the Bible.
Music filled with obscenities, wildly popular with youth today and in many other clubhouses, is not played. A player will curse occasionally but usually in hushed tones. Quotes from Scripture are posted in the weight room. Chapel service is packed on Sundays. Prayer and fellowship groups each Tuesday are well-attended. It’s not unusual for the front office executives to pray together.
On the field, the Rockies are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons and only the second time in their 14-year history. Behind the scenes, they quietly have become an organization guided by Christianity — open to other religious beliefs but embracing a Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them focus and success.
From ownership on down, it’s an approach the Rockies are proud of — and something they are wary about publicizing. “We’re nervous, to be honest with you,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd says. “It’s the first time we ever talked about these issues publicly. The last thing we want to do is offend anyone because of our beliefs.”
Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings says: “They do preach character and good living here. It’s a must for them, and that starts from the very top. But we’re not a military group. … Nobody is going to push their beliefs on each other or make judgments. We do believe that if you do things right and live your life right, good things are going to happen.” (more…)
The scene is repeated at NFL stadiums every week. Moments after the game ends, players from both teams form a circle at midfield, join hands and kneel in prayer.
“Being a Christian is who I am, just as much as I am a football player, a father and a husband,” said Lions quarterback Jon Kitna, who has drawn national attention for his faith. “I don’t turn that off and on when it’s convenient. In fact, being a believer in Christ is going to be there long after I am a football player.
“This part of my life (quarterbacking) will end someday. I’m going to believe in Christ for the rest of my life.”
More and more, athletes and coaches are comfortable expressing their spiritual side, from informal religious meetings with teammates to publicly testifying their faith in the media.
The display is not as public, but many Pistons attend a prayer service before games, and Tigers gather regularly as part of the Baseball Chapel program.
Two of the Tigers’ most visible players make very visible professions of faith.
Pitcher Todd Jones has “JN 20:29” tattooed on his left hand, a reference to the Bible verse John 20:29.
“Because I sign left-handed,” Jones explained. “I’m always signing and people ask me, ‘What’s that?’ and I get a chance to tell them. ‘Blessed are those who do not see but still believe.’ ”
Catcher Pudge Rodriguez continually makes a sign of the cross.
“I do the cross of Jesus Christ every single pitch,” he said. “It’s not a superstitious thing. It’s for Him to protect me for every pitch. I pray before every game, for everybody, for the whole team, even for their team, so nobody can get hurt.”
All teams take part
Teams from every major pro sport, except the NHL, have some sort of Christian-based ministry working with players. Independent chaplains, and representatives of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) or Athletes in Action (AIA), regularly host Bible studies, prayer meetings and chapel services.
Some chaplains develop particularly strong relationships, enabling them to counsel players and coaches through tragedies, relationship issues or how to deal with stressful athletic situations.
Bishop Robert Joyce, who ministers to the Pistons and Shock, said he tailors his discussions to players’ and coaches’ lives.
“I want to be in tune where they are,” Joyce said. “If they’re having a tough time as a team, we talk about how God can help them. If there is divisiveness, we talk about the unity of God. If they’re worried about being traded, we talk about how God assigns me and releases me. We talk about accepting the grace of God.
“It’s learning about what Paul said, on how there is a season for all things, and I need to be content where I am and glorify God, too.”
Bringing religion into the team setting seems to be an asset, according to Pistons and Lions players and coaches.
“It’s just who I am, being a Christian, so it’s nice to be able to share it with my teammates and have them be with me,” Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter said. “It brings a real unity, that you know these guys are with you in so many ways, they’re on your team in life and in basketball. It adds another dimension to your relationship with your teammates.”
Christianity predominates the ministries, reflecting the faith of the majority of the players and coaches.
Most Americans identify themselves as Christian, according to a 2001 survey conducted by the City University of New York. Around 76.5 percent of respondents said they were Christian in some form.
Only 1.3 percent said they were Jewish, and less than 1 percent identified themselves as Muslim.
A balm for the violence
Dave Wilson, one of the leaders of the Kensington Community Church, has been the Lions chaplain for 23 seasons. He’s given some thought to why football seems to embrace religion, particularly Christianity, so strongly.
“I think because it’s the most warlike, there can be fear because these guys put a lot on the line,” Wilson said. “Having something bigger than game and sports enables you to hold onto something real when things are violent or stressful. I’ve been there when Reggie Brown and Mike Utley went down. It’s very real. Very scary.
“It makes you search for something solid in your life — and for us, that’s Jesus Christ.”
Lions kicker Jason Hanson sees his faith as a steadying influence, on and off the field. Hanson freely professes his faith, but not as publicly as Kitna.
“Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is something you can always rely on,” Hanson said. “I’m going to make mistakes, maybe miss a kick or whatever, but I know no matter what, I have my relationship with Christ. And that’s the most important thing of all.”
Lions coach Rod Marinelli said his faith steadies him through the ups and downs of his job. He coached in Tampa Bay with Tony Dungy, one of the most outspoken Christians in sports. Marinelli said he shares Dungy’s philosophy of spirituality mixing with football.
“The word humble is so special to me, and you can lose sight of that so quickly in this business,” Marinelli said. “You have to have faith, even if you can’t touch it, feel it, or put a saw or hammer to it. I always talk about faith and humility; they mean everything in football and life.
“There are two ways to look at things: those who are humble and those who are about to be. Being humbled is sometimes good, if you can come out of it. And that’s where your faith comes in. What are you about? What are you made of?”
“You have all kinds of guys from all walks of life on a team. We all come together and form a team,” coach Flip Saunders said. “I’ve always let the players do what they want; they’re free to worship and pray whenever and however.”I think it’s good for them, if they want it, to have that dimension.”
Inclusion, or exclusion?
Some wonder if the Christian — sometimes evangelical — bent to the sports ministries could be potentially harmful to team chemistry.
A player or coach who is Jewish, Muslim, from another religion, or even non-spiritual, could feel like an outsider, since the services are not geared toward them.
Services are optional, and teams don’t officially sanction or organize them.
Christian organizations, such as FCA, AIA, and local chaplains Wilson and Joyce, say they aim to make their ministries as inclusive as possible. Services always are listed as non-denominational.
“We’re here for everybody. We want to be a support for all people in the game,” said Les Steckel, president of the FCA and a former NFL and college coach. “I’ve seen the impact, over the last 32 years, that having faith can have. I’ve felt the intensity, so I never think it can be a bad thing. God is taking us where he wants us to be.”
“I’ve learned when to talk about what I believe, and when to keep things to myself. I’m not here to ram my faith down people’s throats. But I’m not afraid to stand up and be a Christian.”