Star athletes are seen as role models, both good and bad.
So, let’s take a look at some of the good.
Today, we want to put the spotlight on Christian professional baseball players who champion the cause of God.
What makes a great man of God can be found in the heart and in the legs of man.
A man who gives his whole heart to God and runs after Him will find the Almighty lifting him up to a new level of purpose that creates a mighty man of God.
A star athlete who knows this as truth wants everyone around him to know he is walking with the Lord.
The game doesn’t mean everything to them.
They understand the peaks and valleys of their profession.
They acknowledge that God comes first in their lives, baseball second.
Let me briefly introduce you to some of these mighty men of God.
1. Clayton Kershaw:
Let’s start with the ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He’s the highest paid player in baseball and has won just about every major award imaginable, including Most Valuable Player.
One Sunday, he and his wife, Ellen, spoke at Calvary Chapel South Bay about their charity, Kershaw’s Challenge, and their ongoing mission work in Africa.
To remind him of his responsibility to care for others, Clayton started making a donation for every strikeout he recorded.
And he throws a lot of them.
Check out his website video for a complete total and an introduction to their great work.
Since beginning the charity in 2011, he has helped raise more than $6 million to help at-risk children in Dallas, Los Angeles, Zambia and the Dominican Republic.
2. Aaron Judge:
This 6-foot-7, 282-pound, 26-year-old behemoth of a man was raised in the Lord by adopted parents.
All you need to know about the New York Yankees slugger is in the way he lists life’s priorities on Twitter: Christian, Faith, Family … then Baseball.
His Twitter Home Page photo is of 2 Corinthians 5:7 … “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
He won the 2017 Home Run Derby and was named that year’s Rookie of the Year in the American League.
3. Albert Pujols:
The Los Angeles Angels first baseman gives all the glory to God.
“My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will.
God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end. Baseball is how my wife, Dee Dee, and I glorify God.”
4. R.A. Dickey:
Another of baseball’s Cy Young award winners (2012), Robert Allen Dickey is a free agent who pitched for the Atlanta Braves in 2017.
He has an amazing story to tell as a born-again Christian: Molested at the age of 8, early failure as a ballplayer, a suicide attempt.
(See the spellbinding video of his testimony at the end of this article. In it, he explains how God prevented his suicide).
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His first game in 2001 with the Texas Rangers was a nightmare.
He tied a modern league record of giving up the most home runs in a game (6).
It wasn’t until he almost drowned in a river that he completely surrendered his life to God, and from that point on has never looked back.
He has donated his time and love for God’s people with Bombay Teen Challenge, a group involved with ending human trafficking, and he helps run the Ocala, Florida-based Honoring the Father Ministries, which provides medical supplies to the impoverished in Latin America.
You can read more about this role model in his book, “Wherever I Wind Up.”
5. Jeanmar Gomez:
The 29-year-old Philadelphia Phillies closer grew up in a Christian household in Venezuela.
He showcases his faith by choosing to play the beautiful praise song “Great I Am” by Puerto Rican Christian singer Julissa over the loudspeaker every time he’s called into the game.
Gomez has said, “God has been with me always no matter where I go.”
6. Brian Dozier:
The star Minnesota Twins second baseman said he hit a “turning point” in his life in 2010 when he read 1 Corinthians 10:31:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Dozier has said, “Once I really embraced that, I didn’t worry about hits anymore…
If I can carry myself in a Christ-like manner and influence somebody else, that’s a beautiful day.”
He is part of a Bible study group among his teammates.
7. Andrew McCutchen:
Now a San Francisco Giant, the five-time all-star outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates gives God all the glory.
McCutchen, whose father is a pastor, has said, “The game is not mine. It doesn’t control me. I give it all to God.”
8. Josh Hamilton:
This 5-time Major League Baseball All-Star has been around the league.
After struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, he credits God for saving his life and career.
He does not shy away from telling his story, speaking to community groups and fans at many functions, about how Jesus brought him back from the brink and that faith is what keeps him going.
Hamilton wrote an autobiography, “Beyond Belief,” which explains how he quit drugs and alcohol and found a relationship with God.
9. Jackie Robinson (1919-1972):
The UCLA and Brooklyn Dodgers great (1947 to 1956) was chosen by Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey to break the country’s baseball color barrier because of Robinson’s devotion to God.
Although abused by other players for being black in a “white man’s game,” he didn’t fight back.
It’s noted that Robinson kept his reliance on God and prayed every night for strength.
The rest, as they say, is history.
10. Mariano Rivera:
The recently retired Rivera was an outstanding pitcher with the New York Yankees.
He glorified God in an interview, noting: “Everything I have and everything I became is because of the strength of the Lord, and through Him, I have accomplished everything.
“Not because of my strength. Only by His love, His mercy, and His strength.”
Today, he established a church in New Rochelle, N.Y., called Refugio de Esperanza, where his wife, Clara, is serving as pastor.
11. Tim Tebow:
Without a doubt, the most maligned Christian athlete in modern times.
The 2007 college Heisman Trophy winner has had a checkered career as a pro football player with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets.
Then he switched to baseball, playing in the New York Mets organization.
He is known (and predictably ridiculed by many in the media) for his outspoken Christian faith and his unwavering devotion to God.
He would bend a knee to pray on the field before a game so much it gave rise to the term Tebowing.
You can read more about this mighty man of God in “Through My Eyes.”
12. Curt Schilling:
The retired star Red Sox pitcher has been a controversial figure in his after-pitching career.
He was fired by ESPN for his disapproval of transgender bathrooms.
A committed and outspoken evangelical, he said he was led to Christianity during his wife’s battle with skin cancer.
This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, as there are many other baseball players of valor.
Those mentioned here are great examples of how God lifts up those who have a heart for Him and run after Him.
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” (Proverbs 8:17)
There are other baseball players who are strong Christians, including:
13. Rajai Davis
14. Chris Davis
15. Josh Fields
16. David Murphy
17. Ben Zobrist
18. Juan Pierrre
19. John Smoltz:
Former Atlanta Braves player and Hall of Fame pitcher.
20. Pedro Martinez:
Former Red Sox pitching great and Hall of Famer.
Want to have a life of purpose in Jesus?
Want to make a difference in someone’s life?
Then have a heart for God and run after Him so that you, too, as Olympic runner Eric Liddell so wonderfully put it, “feel His pleasure.”