When I stepped on the field for my first major-league game, I didn't even feel my feet touch the ground. It was such a high. It wasn't that I was awe-struck. It was more than that. It was the overwhelming sense of gratification in realizing a dream that I hadn't let go.
Through high school, baseball was my girl-friend. I was obsessed with it. I breathed it, dreamt it, ate it. I didn't start till my senior year in high school, but I gave myself every opportunity to allow me dream to come true. I worked hard, always giving 100%, and I was eager to learn.
I played two years in junior college, and then was signed by the Anaheim Angels. I moved steadily through the Angels minor league system. I wasn't a natural hitter, but I knew how to give productive at bats. I had a little power, ran the bases, knew how to bunt, how to hit behind the runner the kinds of things that don't show up in the box score, but are appreciated by people who know baseball.
In 1994, I had become a Christian. On the plane coming back from a series in Texas, where I had played poorly, I overheard some teammates talking about Jesus. I tried to hear what they were saying without being part of the conversation. One of them asked, If this plane were to crash right now, do you know you'd go to heaven? That got my attention. Later I sat with him and asked for more information, and for the entire descent, he talked to me about Jesus.
When the wheels of the plane touched down, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Of course, I thought that since I became a Christian, my career would skyrocket.
In fact, the next two years, after I accepted Jesus, were difficult. I saw my dream slipping away. In 1996, I had lost my starting job. I was th 25th man on a 25 man roster. I feared being sent down. And then I was. I was back in the minors. And I was crushed broken.
I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, but my priorities had never changed. Baseball was still my life. It was how I identified myself. And if I went 4-4, I was on top of the world. If I went 0-4, I felt awful.
When I was sent down to the minors, I was ready to give up my baseball. My priorities were finally changed.
Of course, thats the place God wanted me. Hes more interested in my soul than my baseball career, and when I was ready to surrender everything that had been so important to me, and simply follow Him, thats when everything turned around.
I was traded to the Detroit Tigers, and have had several productive seasons with them, making the All-Star team in 1998.
God has directed my life. Good games and bad games dont affect me as much. Baseball is what I do, not who I am. I am a child of God.
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