Joe Girardi's mother was gone, and so was his passion for baseball. The future catcher of the world champion New York Yankees decided to quit - just packed up and went home after his mother passed away.
"I had lost what I thought was the meaning of playing baseball," Girardi says. "I was playing to keep her alive, but now she was dead. Finally, I just broke down."
He went home to Chicago and to his girlfriend, Kim. She used the same wise, loving touch she uses now as his wife to help him understand what was important.
"Kim explained why I was playing," Joe says. "She told me I should use my gifts to glorify God. She said baseball would be a platform to show God's work." Joe became a follower of Jesus Christ.
"Right away there was a joy and hunger to be playing again," Joe says. "The passion God had given me for so many years was back. I was 22, confused completely on my own, but when I asked Jesus to take over my life, I had a peace I'd never had before."
Girardi works in a glass house known as the "Bronx Zoo" - a place where baseball is followed passionately and the Yankees' every move is painfully analyzed. Yankee Stadium is a pressure-packed place to work. But when the pressures get intense, Joe remembers and claims the peace Jesus gives.
"You can have peace even in the Zoo.'" Joe says, "when you see that God is in charge." Joe and Kim turn daily to the Bible for encouragement and guidance. "The Bible keeps Kim and me on a straight and narrow path and keeps us strong in our marriage," Joe says. "It keeps us locked into God and what He wants. It shows us how to have the strength and wisdom we need to live every day."
Joe went to New York after playing three seasons with the Colorado Rockies. He was apprehensive about going from laid-back Denver to pressure-packed New York, but he now knows it was part of God's plan for his life. He even got a World Championship out of it when the Yankees won in '96.
"The fans in New York have a real passion for baseball, and I think it's okay, even important, for people to have outlets," Joe says. "Playing there is a platform to show them that Christ is my outlet, my provider. The Bronx is a tough place. People are looking for hope. I want to show them that my hope is in God, and theirs can be too."
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