Baseball has always been a tremendous part of my life -- ever since I was a little leaguer, through the minor and major leagues and even now as a major league broadcaster.
I signed right out of high school as an 18-year-old first baseman/outfielder with the LA Dodgers in 1964, and like every rookie I had aspirations of becoming a big league star in a hurry.
I won two minor league batting titles and three Silver Glove awards as a first baseman, but I still spent seven years in the minors before my first full major league season in 1972. I made the All-Rookie team that year and spent the next 10 seasons as a utility player accumulating 80 pinch hits which ranks in the top 25 on the all-time list. Along the way I wore the uniforms of the Dodgers, Phillies, Blue Jays and Expos.
In 1974 I married my wife Debby, and four years later I began to experience change in my life. We attended a conference for professional athletes who gathered to talk about the real issues of living. At the conference I realized that in order to be successful in the game of life, I needed to know the author of life -- God -- through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Through talks, group discussions and much prayer, I accepted Christ into my life and discovered that Christianity is not a religion. It's a real faith in the one true God.
As a youngster growing up in Southern California, I attended church most every Sunday -- more or less out of habit -- to learn about God. But up until 1978 I didn't make a decision to follow Him. Now I know that God loves us and that He created us to know Him personally through Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life, died for our sins and conquered death to give us the only hope of eternal life in heaven.
I wish I could say that I progressed rapidly in my faith, but the Lord has His own timetable in our lives. I can say that I know where I'll spend eternity -- heaven. The Bible says in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son, and whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." In John 14 Jesus said, "In my Fathers House there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me that where I am you may also be. I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me."
\I also know that through prayer and studying God's Word, I'll continue to grow in my relationship with Christ and experience all of the blessings He has in store for me including real joy, peace and the strength to face life's adversities. It's been a long time since 1978, and I'd love to be able to say that I never have any problems and never stumble. But that's not the case. Traveling throughout the country as a major league, I find myself in situations where I am constantly tempted. But there is an escape route. The Bible tells us, "For because Christ Himself has suffered and been tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted." (Hebrews 2:18) "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you by tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Baseball continues to be a big part of my life, but now with Jesus Christ in charge of my life, I understand what Romans 8:28 tells us: "All things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose."
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