My journey to the big leagues has not been the most conventional. I received no major scholarship offers after high school, and was a walk-on at Mississippi State. Even though I excelled at Mississippi State, I went undrafted. This was the third time I had gone undrafted. I was disappointed at the time, but that was because MY plans were not working out, and I was relying on my plans instead of trusting God's plans for my life. After my Senior year, I found myself at a tryout camp run by the San Diego Padres. I was the only position player signed out of the tryout camp and finally began my professional career. Â Even though I thought my professional career was delayed, I jumped through the lower levels of the minors quickly and got to the Big Leagues in just over two seasons!
Mine is a journey that has not been conventional, and not without its ups and downs. But it is mine. And in hindsight, it couldn't have been better. My journey may not be easy â€“ I may not have been drafted or signed to a bonus or been guaranteed a roster spot â€“ but along the way I met my wife, Connie, who has been such a support to me and has helped me in my walk with the Lord. Because I wasn't drafted and played all 4 years in college, I was able to finish my degree and earn my MBA. Â I have a deep appreciation for the way God is at work in my life, and wouldn't trade any of my experiences.
In some ways, my spiritual journey has been rather unconventional as well. I was raised in the church, and certainly was taught all the right things, but it wasn't until I was away from home that I made those things my own. In fact, I grew up going to church out of a sense of obligation, but I came to the place where I went to church because I wanted to â€“ because I felt drawn. It was in college that I made the decision to follow Jesus as Lord of my life. And when I met Connie, she helped me mature as a Christian even more.
As I have matured as a Christian, I have begun to recognize the wonderful way in which God works. My baseball path may not have been conventional, and it may not have been the easiest, but it is exactly what He wanted for me, and it has turned out to be the very best for me. I have come to realize that one of the reasons God has blessed me with the ability to play ball is to glorify Him, and one of the reasons my baseball journey took the path it did is that I might have something to share with people so they might come closer to Him.Â
Baseball has provided me with great moments and joys. My first at-bat in the big leagues with the Padres, as my wife and parents sat in the stands, cheering, is something I will always remember. Being part of baseball, with its history and traditions is a blessing. Having an opportunity to do something which I have dreamed of since I was a little boy, is something I am thankful for.
I may not have a steady Big League job yet, but I have something even greater: The knowledge that wherever God puts my wife and me, we will be used as lights for Him, and whatever happens will be for our best. We are excited about what God has in store for our lives, for we truly believe what God says in Jeremiah: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
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