I’ve written before about how much I love Baseball’s All-Star break. It’s kind of like Christmas in July for a sports fan like me. And you know that through the years we have done a lot of inspiring stories by athletes in Guideposts magazine, going all the way back to the famous piece by Jackie Robinson in 1948 where he talked about how his faith helped him endure the vicious racism he faced when he broke the National Pastime’s color barrier.
These days, so many sports figures profess their faith that I am sometimes skeptical that it hasn’t simply become part of the standard pro package. Hit a home run and point to the Big Man upstairs. But I heard an off-hand comment during the All-Star game broadcast about Andrew McCutchen, the young Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder, that really got my attention.
The Saturday night before the All-Star game, Andrew hit a dramatic walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 14th inning against the archrival St. Louis Cardinals, the division leader, in a do-or-die series. It was well past midnight when that ball landed deep in the centerfield stands. A reporter asked Andrew how hard it must have been to get to sleep that night with all that heroic adrenaline still coursing through his system and knowing he had an afternoon game coming up on Sunday, the last day before the break.
“Yeah,” Andrew said, “at 4 a.m. all I could do was stare at the ceiling and think, ‘Man, I have to be in church in a couple of hours.’”
Now that sounded genuine and heartfelt coming from an athlete. Not “Jesus died on the cross for my sins so I could catch a fourth-down touchdown pass.” In a very simple, natural way Andrew was saying what comes first in his life: Man, I’ve got to get to church.
Not surprising when I found out he is the son of a minister and an athlete who professes his faith frequently but humbly. So here’s a shout-out to Andrew: We’d love to have a story by you in Guideposts. When the season is over and you have some time, let’s sit down and talk.
And here is a question for all of you. What athletes or teams inspire you and which ones would you like to see in Guideposts?