For many kids, summer means a break from endless tests and homework assignments. For me it meant the start of baseball season, the hope of the Mariners making the playoffs, and a chance to spend quality time with my dad.
I was a huge baseball nerd. I knew the all recent stats and everything about the ballparks and teams. I watched Griffey, McGuire, and Sosa battle for the homerun record, and hoped I would one day round the bases of a professional baseball diamond. Even though my dream of becoming a Major League player may never be realized, I still look forward to long summer days immersed in America’s pastime.
Men like Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeria, and Josh Hamilton encourage me. By reading Playing with Purpose I have gained a better understanding of these player’s faith and passion for the sport. Here are three Major Leaguers I admire:
1. Albert Pujols:
I admire Pujols’ conviction to give back to others. Instead of using his success as a means of escape from his background, Pujols enriches his hometown of Santo Domingo by providing medical care, food, clothing, and other necessities through the Pujols Family Foundation. He also hosts a formal dance every year for teenagers with Down’s syndrome. Pujols has said, “One thing I have learned is that it’s not about me; it’s about serving the Lord Jesus Christ.” His continued devotion and service always leaves me rooting for him, no matter who is playing for or against.
2. Mark Teixeria:
As a child, Mark Teixeria (pronounced Te-share-ah) found himself in church developing a faith that would guide him throughout his life. His generous spirit impacts lives—he gave a million-dollar donation to his former high school. Wherever Teixeria has played he has donated, helped, and cared for the less fortunate. For example, following his recent move to the New York Yankees, Teixeria has become involved with the Harlem RBI and DREAM charter school. Through his donations—and the donations of others—Harlem RBI has provided year-round enrichment programs in academics and sports to thousands of children. Teixeria says, “My faith keeps me grounded; I know no matter my success or failure on the field that there’s a higher thing for me with God and with Jesus.”
3. Josh Hamilton:
The number-one pick of the 1999 MLB draft, Josh Hamilton was on track to be a Major League superstar. After two promising years in the minors, Hamilton was injured in a car crash; he spiraled into drug addiction and was eventually suspended from baseball. He hit rock bottom in October 2005. Following visits to eight rehab centers, as well as days of counseling and hours of talking with family, Hamilton recommitted his life to Christ. Hamilton’s story is truly one of redemption and restoration. Over a period of eight months he reconciled with his wife, committed to a healthier lifestyle, and started working. On Opening Day 2007, Hamilton realized his dream of becoming a Major League player. Though his path has had its ups and downs since, Hamilton has continued to put God first.
If you’d like to read more about these player’s stories or about other Major League players that have a deep faith, check out Playing with Purpose by Mike Yorkey.