One of the greatest benefits of being a professional baseball player is traveling around the country to play in some of the classic ballparks.
I've had the opportunity to pitch in several stadiums, but taking the mound in Yankee Stadium ranks as a highlight in my career. Even though I was a Yankee opponent, you can imagine how I felt walking out on the field where some of the game's greatest stars performed in years' past. I was pretty excited.
Another highlight for me was pitching a complete game victory against the Cleveland Indians in my major-league debut in 1993. I was with the Boston Red Sox -- another organization that is rich with baseball tradition.
Needless to say, I consider myself fortunate to have experienced the thrill of pitching in the big leagues, and I'm grateful that I can earn a living as a pro athlete. However, when I look back at my life, I can see how lucky I was to get to this point! At one time, I was headed down the path that leads to destruction.
As a young person growing up in Pflugerville, TX, I was consumed with being popular. I knew I could gain a lot of popularity by succeeding in athletics, and I excelled in three sports -- baseball, football and basketball. As a senior in high school (1987) I received all-state honors in baseball and was drafted by the Montreal Expos. I signed a pro contract that year at the age of 17.
I also knew I could gain a certain amount of popularity by "hanging out with the crowd." That meant going to parties and making some decisions that I now regret.
I'll never forget the time I went down to Padre Island with some friends during spring break. We started drinking and one of my friends almost drank himself to death! I found myself sitting in the waiting room of a hospital at 4 am wondering if my friend was going to make it. At that point I realized that I was headed the wrong direction in life. If I was going to be successful, my values had to change.
With God's help, I made a decision that weekend to change my life. I knew I wasn't capable of turning things around on my own strength, so I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart where He could guide and direct my life.
I was brought up in a church and I always knew who Jesus Christ was, but it was nothing more than "head" knowledge. I never really knew Him personally and pretty much ignored Him by going my own way. Once I established a personal relationship with the Lord, my life began to change.
As I spent time getting to know Jesus Christ by reading the Bible and praying on a daily basis, I felt an overwhelming sense of real joy, peace and contentment on the inside. He also provided me with the strength to get through tough times both on and off the field.
I can honestly say the Lord has made a huge difference in my life. Now my desire is to honor the Lord with the talents He has blessed me with and to love my wife and family.
If you would like to know more about Jesus and what He can do for you, just click the button on the left side of your screen to change your life.