Falling in Love with God
Some people think that Christianity is a crutch that people use to overcome problems in their life. Something's wrong in their life that they can't fix, and so they lean on God. That was never the case with me. I was never into drugs or alcohol. I didn't run around. I wasn't into partying. I was never down and out. And yet God saved me.
I grew up in a Christian home. I remember when I was 6, hearing on the radio that God had died. I went crying to my grandmother, telling her what I had heard. She said, "Do you feel the wind? That's the breath of God. Do you see the flowers? That's God showing His beauty." And, at the age of 6, I fell in love with God. I thought God was magnificent.
In High School, at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting, one of my teachers talked about having a personal relationship with Jesus and asking Him to come into your heart. I realized I hadn't done that. I just had never taken that step. I had always lived a Christian lifestyle I had just never been taught to ask Jesus into my heart.
Baseball has been good to me and allowed me to do so many positive things but I almost gave it up. I had been drafted by the Seattle Mariners, and came up through their system. I moved up through A ball, and AA, and AAA. The Mariners called me up the big leagues in September of 1983 and again in September of 1984.
The next year, 1985, was my rookie year. And it was the worst year of my career. It was so bad, I wanted to quit. But my pastor encouraged me to stay in the game. He pointed out the impact that I would have on people if I played ball. I played in Puerto Rico that winter, and it was the first time I had an outreach to kids, which is something I continued throughout my years in Seattle.
I looked at my baseball career as a ministry. It gave me a platform to share all the positive things the Bible talks about. I have been so blessed in that regard. God has used me in powerful ways to bring His message to people, especially kids, who need it.
Christianity has given me perspective. The baseball world is a world of negatives. Hitting .300 is a great season, but that still means you fail 70% of the time. And there are always people who point out your flaws, and tell you all the things you do wrong. Even as a broadcaster, it's easy to evaluate negatively to talk about the things a player can't do well.
I've learned, through the perspective Christianity has given me, to always look for the good in an athlete and in a person.
It's an honor to have played baseball, and be working at ESPN, but nothing compares to my relationship to Jesus Christ.