Faith in the Game is a blog containing submissions by athletes of faith. Each of them was asked one question: Tell us a story about a time when your faith was most present in your life. Rather than tell us about their faith, we asked them to show us.
These stories are oftentimes uplifting, and at all times profound, raw, honest, introspective and heartfelt. These are not the sort of stories you hear in a press conference. Some of them take place on the field; others, off it. They are presented without agenda or judgment. On many levels, we think you'll find them fascinating, as they pull up the veil on a side of sports that is rarely revealed but very often present.
This blog is moderated by author and father Ben Petrick, a former Colorado Rockies catcher thought to be the only professional athlete to have his career shortened by Parkinson's Disease, along with writer and father Scott Brown. In addition to their professional and family lives, both men are also coaches of youth sports. A selection of the stories they've collected will soon appear in a book, and together they're also working on Ben's autobiography.
If you'd like us to email you when new stories appear on the blog, please send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is excerpted from Ben Petrick's acclaimed new book, Forty Thousand to One. Petrick was a catcher for the Colorado Rockies and one of the top prospects in baseball when he was told he had Parkinson’s disease — a diagnosis he hid for four Major League seasons.
After his retirement, Petrick became a full-time caregiver to his daughter, Makena, while his wife went back to work. His health deteriorated greatly until one year ago, when he underwent a radical surgery in an attempt to lessen his Parkinson’s symptoms.
In 2003, I was traded to the Detroit Tigers, an extremely young team on its way toward finishing 47 games out of first place. Just three years later, they reached the World Series.
The very next year, my original team, the Colorado Rockies, made a miraculous run to the World Series behind Clint Hurdle and the group of players with whom I’d come up the baseball ranks.
The following story is excerpted from Ben Petrick’s new book, “40,000 to One.” To find out more about the book, and to place an order, please visit www.BenPetrick.com.
Ben is founder of Faith In The Game. A former Major Leaguer with the Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers, Ben has Parkinson’s disease and recently underwent an aggressive surgery called Deep Brain Stimulation to alleviate his symptoms. A recent ESPN feature on Ben and his family can be found here, and a television news story on Ben’s amazing recovery can be found here. Ben chronicles his progress, along with stories of faith, family and baseball, in this blog.
In the film “The Tree of Life,” the mother says in narration, “There are two ways through life — the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.
“Nature,” she goes on to say, “only wants to please itself. Get others to please it, too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.
“But grace doesn’t try to please itself. Grace accepts being slighted, forgotten. Accepts insults and injuries.”
It’s not adequate to say that my mother possesses grace. Grace is my mother.The two are interchangeable.
I’ll pause right here and say that I realize it’s not uncommon to write about your mother in awe-inspired terms, as if you’re seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. But if you met my mother, you’d know.
You’d know she’s a revelation, like seeing anything for the first time must be.
I recently traveled back to Nashville for a Parkinson’s fundraising event, put on by Brent Pederson, a former NHL hockey player and coach that has Parkinson’s disease.He now holds a position in the Nashville Predators front office.The team, along with their foundation, helped Brent put this annual event on.There were 940 people there supporting both foundations and they raised over $300,000 at the event.I was honored to give a short speech about my story and former NBA player Brian Grant shared some words as well.
I’m more than happy to participate in these types of events. While I wasn’t born to be a public speaker — and my Parkinson’s–induced mumble doesn’t help the matter — I am improving.Events like this one give me hope that through increased fundraising, science and technology will continue to improve and research will one day find a way to eradicate Parkinson’s disease all together.
When I retired from baseball seven years ago, it seemed like a nice idea that I would become a spokesperson for Parkinson’s research.The reality, though, is that as my symptoms grew worse, all I wanted to do was retreat. We tend to romanticize struggle in our country. Scrappiness and grit a part of the American fabric. But the fact is that struggle is a process, and deciding to turn into the wind rather than away from it takes time.
In my case, my history as a standout athlete created an enormous conflict in me. On one hand, it gave me a platform above and beyond most Parkinson’s patients. On the other, vanity is part and parcel of being an athlete — at least it was for me.
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is a great friend to Faith In The Game, providing us with thoughts to pass on to our readers. They’ll be shared periodically on this blog. Here is today’s —- it’s a bit of a quick one:
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power." — Abraham Lincoln
Matt Holliday, 31, is an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. A member of the 2011 National League All-Star Team, Holliday is batting .324 with 14 homers and 49 RBI despite dealing with injuries. Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the seventh round in 1998, he elected to sign rather than attend Oklahoma State, where he would have split time playing baseball for his father, Tom, as well as quarterback for the football team.
Holliday and his wife, Leslee, have two sons, Jackson (born December 4, 2003) and Ethan (born February 23, 2007), and a daughter, Gracyn (born November 7, 2009).
My dad is a baseball man. When I was younger, he’d tell me about guys he’d been around in the 1980s, and how once they became men of faith, they got soft. They weren’t the players they used to be.
I laugh at this now. Hey, Jesus turned over a few tables in his day. He knocked over the post-game spread. He wasn’t the soft Jesus you see on a stained-glass window. He had his moments. He died on a cross, for goodness sake. This was a tough dude.
Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.” Not literally about faith, but nonetheless a powerful message about living an inspired live — and the difference between having the ability to inspire others and merely being in charge. What separated the Wright Bros., Martin Luther King, Jr., and Apple from the rest? They “started with why.” We all know what we do. Some know how we do it. But very few know why we do it. What is our cause? What is our reason? What is our purpose? Are we communicating the meaning of our life from the inside out?
"Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead." — Roger Bannister, after becoming the first person to break the four-minute mile in 1952
Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed. — Proverbs 12:24
Ben Petrick is co-editor of Faith In The Game. A former Major Leaguer with the Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers, Ben has Parkinson’s disease and recently underwent an aggressive surgery called Deep Brain Stimulation to alleviate his symptoms. A television news story on Ben’s amazing recovery can be found here. Ben chronicles his progress, along with stories of faith, family and baseball, in this blog.
Challenges occur in life on a daily basis; some big, some small.I have found that over the past couple of years as my relationship with Christ has deepened, these adversities just don’t have the hold on me that they once did.
If you read in James 1:2-4 the Bible says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Mo Isom is a senior goalkeeper for the LSU women’s soccer team.
I was reared in a happy home. A peaceful home. A humble home. Being a “Christian” was what I knew and what was comfortable. But, like many young kids, that is where the pursuit of the faith rested stationary.
My parents were all that a young girl’s parents should be: supportive, passionate, encouraging, humble, patient, strict, loving, proud. They sacrificed so much to see me succeed, whether it be in the classroom, my relationships, or my athletics.
I entered LSU a semester early and began to adjust to a very new life. Eager to explore all that my new home had to offer, I was consumed by the excitement and intensity of change. I stumbled, as many young freshmen do, in finding my identity and learning the ins and outs of my new routine, but I eventually found my footing and focused on my passion: soccer.
"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital." — Joe Paterno
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. — Ephesians 6:10-18
The following is excerpted from writer Joe Posnanski’s story, “My Kansas City Goodbye,” in which takes a final drive around the city he’s called home for 15 years before moving his family to Charlotte.
I came to Kansas City knowing nothing at all … not even what I wanted. I vaguely knew that I wanted to be a big city sports columnist. That was the biggest thing I could imagine when I was 29 years old.
The big city was New York, of course, it had to be New York. Well, Chicago could suffice. Washington might do. Los Angeles had a nice ring. Cleveland was home. Boston … oh, I loved Boston. It took time to figure out that the size of the place didn’t matter. It took time to understand that what I really wanted was to become a part of a place, to become a big voice in that place, maybe even to have a sandwich named for me in a local restaurant, to have my photo on billboards, to have my columns talked about in offices and factories and around the corner.