This weekend’s Super Bowl

We live in the San  Francisco Bay Area, so the Super Bowl is of special interest to us.  In going through my messages today, I ran across this post from “Faith in the Game”.  I think it will mean a lot to you, as it did to me.

The storyline has gotten a lot of attention these last couple of weeks, but as most anyone who follows sports knows, this weekend’s Super Bowl will be the first ever pitting two brothers against each other as head coaches of the competing teams. Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers are slight favorites over older brother John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens. When this matchup began to look real, I imagined what it would be like to sit in the skybox at this game with Harbaughs’ parents. You look at one team and see your son making the game’s big decision. You look at the other team and feel the same anxiety. Then, if you’re Jack Harbaugh, the family patriarch, you realize that something you said consistently during the childhood of both men has translated into this Great Moment.

“Who’s got it better than us?” was a constant question in the Harbaugh household. As the story goes, it’s a question that Jack, the father, presented to his three children—sons John and Jim and daughter Joani—often while driving them to school or practice. Their answer from the backseat was just as consistent as the question. “Noo-body,” the children would respond as if it was the magic key that unlocked the car door.

It appears that simple family Q&A created the password for a remarkable moment in NFL history. Jack, a lifelong coach at the collegiate level, gets to watch from the skybox as his boys lead their teams. It’s a coaching accomplishment without precedent. When it comes to NFL success this season, nobody has been better than a Harbaugh.

The lesson here is embedded in the confident philosophy of Jack Harbaugh. No matter their circumstance growing up—and as an itinerant coach, the family moved often from city to city, one small house to the next—he never let his kids feel overwhelmed by their surroundings. The constant reminder to be grateful of their own situations helped fuel them to create future successes. Rather than dwelling on petty comparisons of the haves and the have-nots, the Harbaughs developed a mindset that assured them they possessed all they needed to effectively pursue greatness.

It’s a mentality that Jim Harbaugh took into his 49ers locker room. From team T-shirts with the slogan to the constant yelling of the “Who’s got it better than us?” phrase in the team huddle, the 49ers have made it their goal to let their performances on the field mirror the accompanying “Noo-body!” response.

The story made me think: What words were said to you that left that kind of impact? What words have you said that others carry with them today? Think about the final words you say each day to your kids and loved ones. Could those words or actions be the fuel needed to drive them into their own greatness?

Make a difference today.

Faith in the Game – James Ramsey

James Ramsey becomes

the 19th Seminole

to be selected in the first round

of the MLB Draft.


June 4, 2012


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s James Ramsey was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.

“The main reason I came to Florida State was to become a big leaguer,” said Ramsey on being selected in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. “You’re talking about the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. It’s a team with so much rich tradition especially at winning and I appreciate what they said on the telecast about me being a winner. That is the one word I use to describe myself to any scout. I am not going to be the sexiest prospect that comes along. I am not going to be the 6’5″, 220 pound guy, but I am a winner and that’s the kind of guy I hope they want in their organization.”

“The man got what he deserved and that’s what excites me to no end,” said head coach Mike Martin on Ramsey being drafted in the first round. “He has meant so much to this program from passing up the draft last year and coming back to be the first person to ever wear a `C’ on his jersey, to leaving a legacy with our baseball program will always be remembered.”

Ramsey becomes the 19th Seminole to be drafted in the first round and the third Florida State player taken in the first round since 2008. The senior captain joins Sean Gilmartin, who was selected with the 28th overall pick by the Atlanta Braves in 2011, and Buster Posey, who was drafted fifth overall by the San Francisco Giants in 2008.

“The first thing I said to Ramsey when I talked to him tonight was “slide the pictures down, we got a new one to put up,” added Martin in referring to the first round picks pictured in the hallway outside the clubhouse on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. “For me, I will get to walk by that for a few more years and remember what James Ramsey brought to our program. I am literally elated. This is just a culmination of an unbelievable year for the baseball program when a guy comes back and does what he has done both in the classroom and on the field and then is rewarded by getting what he deserves. The man deserves this and I am very proud of him.”

“It’s unbelievable,” said Ramsey on the future possibility of sharing the field with former Seminoles like Shane Robinson, John Gast (Triple A Memphis) and Barret Browning (Triple A Memphis) who are currently playing in the Cardinals organization. “Just to be able to chase your dream but having those guys along the way that have gone through the farm system that will be able to offer priceless advice about how to continue to grind to achieve your goal of being a big leaguer is very exciting.”

After being selected in the 22nd round by the Minnesota Twins in the 2011 MLB Draft, the decision to return to Tallahassee for his senior season was not an easy one for Ramsey.

But the Alpharetta, Ga., native came back to Florida State, earned his degree in finance in April and now has the Seminoles just two wins away from a trip to the College World Series for the third time in the last five years.

“What a difference a year makes,” said Ramsey. “This whole year has been about Proverbs 19: 21 – a man can plan his course but the Lord determines his steps. I have really tried to trust upon that. For me, it wasn’t necessarily result oriented, it wasn’t about becoming a first rounder, it was to do the most with the platform that I have. The hard work I’ve put in, all the faith that I have kept in myself, the faith my teammates have kept in me; I wouldn’t be in this position without God, I wouldn’t be in this position without my teammates, my coaches and my family. I did exactly what I came back to do but there is one more thing that is on my list and if any one things that this is icing on the cake, I am not finished yet at Florida State.”

No one can question the incredible season that Ramsey has put together as he enters this weekend’s Super Regionals against Stanford ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in 10 offensive categories while leading in runs scored (72), total bases (142), on-base percentage (.520) and slugging percentage (.683).

He is the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs per game, runs, walks per game and walks. A semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award and a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Ramsey is currently hitting .385 with 11 doubles, six triples and a team leading 13 home runs. He has started all 61 games in centerfield for the Seminoles in 2012 and has posted a perfect fielding percentage in 143 chances.

Ramsey, who was named an All-ACC first team honoree for the second year in a row, became the fifth Seminole in school history to garner ACC Player of the Year accolades in 2012. He is the first Seminole to win the award since Buster Posey took home the individual honor in 2008. He becomes just the third Seminole outfielder to win the award joining J.D. Drew (1997) and John Ford-Griffin (2001).

The senior captain did not disappoint in the Tallahassee Regional as he led all Seminoles with a .444 batting average en route to being named Most Outstanding Player of the Regional for the second year in a row. Ramsey finished the tournament with four hits including a monster grand slam – the first of his career – in the winner’s bracket game against Samford. He added a double, three runs scored and a team-high six RBI to go along with four walks and zero strikeouts.

Ramsey was recently honored as a first team Louisville Slugger All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. He became the seventh Seminole to earn first team All-America honors since 2007.

He was also honored for his performance in the classroom as he was named the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America® of the Year as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). A repeat selection as a first team member of the Capital One Academic All-America® Division I baseball team, Ramsey was also named as the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He joins Greg Gromek (1970 & 1971) as the only Seminoles to be named a two-time first team Academic All-America® in program history.

Over his four year career, Ramsey has hit .340 (257-for-756) in 239 games. He has tallied 34 home runs, 46 doubles, 15 triples and 199 RBI with 151 walks, 31 hit-by-pitches and 32 stolen bases. He has posted a career .976 fielding percentage with 11 assists and just 10 errors in 415 total chances. Ramsey has committed just one error over the last two years, while posting a perfect fielding percentage in 143 chances in 2012.

Ramsey has started 194 consecutive games (dating back to the start of his sophomore season in 2010) and ranks among the career leaders at Florida State in triples (2nd) and hit-by-pitches (t-7th).

“He is going to be able to do so much,” said Martin on what Ramsey brings to the Cardinals. “James can do so many different things to beat you whether it’s making a great play defensively, stealing a base or hitting the ball out of the ball park. He plays the game one way and that’s wide open. He is a consummate baseball player, so how can he beat you? In so many different ways you can’t imagine. Ramsey is just a winner. That’s all there is to it, he is going to win for you.”

Brian Wilson may not be able to play this year

Related Article:

As many San Francisco Giants followers learned yesterday, Brian Wilson, their famous, or infamous pitching closer, may not be able to play ball this year. Pending first, second, third, and possibly more medical opinions, he may have to have surgery for his arm.  He has a great attitude, and will use his faith to weather this storm or others that may come across the horizon.

His condition is of importance to us for various reasons. Foremost because he is not ashamed to show his faith. That puts him in a category of the minority of famous folks.

Secondly, we live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are avid followers of the Giants.

So, let’s pray for this man, his team, his fellow teammates–that regardless of their physical condition, they will continue to exemplify that being a follower of Jesus is nothing to be ashamed of, and in fact is something that we all should show, daily.

Tebow, John 3:16 Drive Internet Evangelism

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Features

Tebow, John 3:16 Drive Internet Evangelism

January 12, 2012 – When Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards on Sunday, it launched a viral buzz over one of his favorite verses, John 3:16, which has led to thousands of people landing on the BGEA’s Internet Evangelism website,

Tebow, John 3:16 Drive Internet Evangelism

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. — John 3:16 (NIV)

Tebow, John 3:16 Drive Internet Evangelism

By Trevor Freeze

Search John 3:16 in Google and in the blink of an eye — 0.11 seconds to be exact — more than 104 million search results pop up.

Ironically, it took all of 11 seconds for Tim Tebow’s Denver Broncos to score a huge upset in overtime Sunday night against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

Tebow — a devout Christian who wore the Bible verse John 3:16 painted on his eye blacks during the 2009 NCAA National Championship game — finished with 316 yards.

And if that wasn’t enough…

Tebow’s per-throw average: 31.6 yards.

Sunday’s overtime TV rating: 31.6.

Pittsburgh’s time of possession: 31 minutes, 6 seconds.

But there have been other numbers, eternally speaking, surrounding John 3:16 that have also been registered this week on The initial website launched by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Internet Evangelism ministry known as Search for Jesus has had a very busy week.

Taking advantage of John 3:16′s popularity in Google searches on Monday, the BGEA advertised a landing page around searches for John 3:16 — the central message of the video-driven Gospel website.

Over 9,000 users specifically inquiring about John 3:16 this week have landed on via Google, with more than 150 clicking they had made a decision to accept Jesus Christ into their life.

“That’s what makes this online ministry so unique,” said John Cass, BGEA’s director of Internet Evangelism. “We can respond to exactly what people are searching for at that moment—and it’s often a very simple next-step to the Gospel.

“Current events give us the opportunity to share the Gospel.”

Churches and individuals can partner with the BGEA’s Internet Evangelism ministry by clicking on the How You Can Help tab on the website

Always one to deflect credit, Tebow did not mention the similarities of the 316 passing yards and one of his favorite verses in Sunday’s post-game press conference, but he was quick to give God the glory.
“First and foremost, I just want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Tebow said. “He’s done so much in my life.”

In the course of his preaching ministry, Billy Graham delivered countless sermons from John 3:16, which reads: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (NIV).”

Believing in Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow FoundationTim Tebow with Jacob Rainey, one of the many people dealing with health problems Tebow hosted at Broncos games this season.

(My Note: I know there is a lot of hoopla going on surrounding Tim Tebow, but I think, as Christians, we really need to support all other Christian brothers and sisters in their stand for our Lord and Savior. Tim is reaching millions of people that none of us can. It is a gift that he uses to glorify His Lord. Let’s support Tim through our prayers.)

By Rick Reilly


I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster’s), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.

Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.

Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second? When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?

Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes.


For Tim Tebow’s take on being named America’s most popular athlete, click here.

“Here he’d just played the game of his life,” recalls Bailey’s mother, Kathy, of Loveland, Colo., “and the first thing he does after his press conference is come find Bailey and ask, ‘Did you get anything to eat?’ He acted like what he’d just done wasn’t anything, like it was all about Bailey.”

More than that, Tebow kept corralling people into the room for Bailey to meet. Hey, Demaryius, come in here a minute. Hey, Mr. Elway. Hey, Coach Fox.

Even though sometimes-fatal Wegener’s granulomatosis has left Bailey with only one lung, the attention took her breath away.

“It was the best day of my life,” she emailed. “It was a bright star among very gloomy and difficult days. Tim Tebow gave me the greatest gift I could ever imagine. He gave me the strength for the future. I know now that I can face any obstacle placed in front of me. Tim taught me to never give up because at the end of the day, today might seem bleak but it can’t rain forever and tomorrow is a new day, with new promises.”

I read that email to Tebow, and he was honestly floored.

“Why me? Why should I inspire her?” he said. “I just don’t feel, I don’t know, adequate. Really, hearing her story inspires me.”

It’s not just NFL defenses that get Tebowed. It’s high school girls who don’t know whether they’ll ever go to a prom. It’s adults who can hardly stand. It’s kids who will die soon.

For the game at Buffalo, it was Charlottesville, Va., blue-chip high school QB Jacob Rainey, who lost his leg after a freak tackle in a scrimmage. Tebow threw three interceptions in that Buffalo game and the Broncos were crushed 40-14.

“He walked in and took a big sigh and said, ‘Well, that didn’t go as planned,’” Rainey remembers. “Where I’m from, people wonder how sincere and genuine he is. But I think he’s the most genuine person I’ve ever met.”

There’s not an ounce of artifice or phoniness or Hollywood in this kid Tebow, and I’ve looked everywhere for it.

Take 9-year-old Zac Taylor, a child who lives in constant pain. Immediately after Tebow shocked the Chicago Bears with a 13-10 comeback win, Tebow spent an hour with Zac and his family. At one point, Zac, who has 10 doctors, asked Tebow whether he has a secret prayer for hospital visits. Tebow whispered it in his ear. And because Tebow still needed to be checked out by the Broncos’ team doctor, he took Zac in with him, but only after they had whispered it together.

And it’s not always kids. Tom Driscoll, a 55-year-old who is dying of brain cancer at a hospice in Denver, was Tebow’s guest for the Cincinnati game. “The doctors took some of my brain,” Driscoll says, “so my short-term memory is kind of shot. But that day I’ll never forget. Tim is such a good man.”

This whole thing makes no football sense, of course. Most NFL players hardly talk to teammates before a game, much less visit with the sick and dying.

Isn’t that a huge distraction?

Tim Tebow with Zac

Stephanie Taylor Not everything Tim Tebow does on one knee is controversial. Ask Zac Taylor.

“Just the opposite,” Tebow says. “It’s by far the best thing I do to get myself ready. Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn’t really matter. I mean, I’ll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it’s to invest in people’s lives, to make a difference.”

So that’s it. I’ve given up giving up on him. I’m a 100 percent believer. Not in his arm. Not in his skills. I believe in his heart, his there-will-definitely-be-a-pony-under-the-tree optimism, the way his love pours into people, right up to their eyeballs, until they believe they can master the hopeless comeback, too.

Remember the QB who lost his leg, Jacob Rainey? He got his prosthetic leg a few weeks ago, and he wants to play high school football next season. Yes, tackle football. He’d be the first to do that on an above-the-knee amputation.

Hmmm. Wonder where he got that crazy idea?

“Tim told me to keep fighting, no matter what,” Rainey says. “I am.”

Brian Wilson was activated today

Brian Wilson was activated today, and pitched an amazing 8th. Praise the Lord, for the wonderful way He is working through the Giants team. We are still praying for them, and all teams, that they will not be injured.

When you get a team as dedicated to showing their appreciation to God, they will come under attack from the pd(pitchfork dude).

More and more players are acknowledging their reliance on help from our heavenly Father. Isn’t it great!

Related articles:

Don Sutton, Pitcher (Hall of Fame)

Don Sutton 2008

(Note: I found the following story of great interest to me, personally, because I went to High School with Don. He graduated 2 years after I did. We were in Student Council together.)

An illustration for Encouragement in a sermon by Davon Huss

Matthew 5:14-5:15

Evening Service for 5/31/2009
Matthew 5:14-15

*You are the Light of the World

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Sutton hadn’t won a game in 8 weeks.

The press was suggesting that he be dropped from the starting lineup. The future looked bleak, and Sutton felt terrible.

Then, before a game, Dodgers manager Walter Alston tapped him on the shoulder. “I’d like to speak with you, Don,” he said. Sutton prepared for the worst.

“Don,” said Alston, “I know how the past couple of months have been for you. Everyone’s wondering whether we can make it to the play offs. You know there’s a lot of pressure. I’ve had to make a decision.”

Sutton had visions of being taken off the mound.

Alston continued, “If the Dodgers are going to win this year,” he said, looking Sutton in the eye, “they’re going to win with Don Sutton pitching. Come what may, you’re staying in the starting lineup. That’s all I wanted to say.”
Sutton’s losing streak lasted 2 more weeks, but because of his manager’s encouragement he felt different.

Something in him was turning around.

He found himself pitching the best ball of his career.

In the National League pennant drive, he won 13 games out of 14.

* For the conclusion of the sermon by Davon Huss, see the message:

You are the light of the world.

Faith in the Game – Crossing Over – by Brian Wilson

Faith In The Game – Crossing Over — by Brian Wilson.

You may wonder why I’m posting two messages today about Brian Wilson.

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area and following the SF Giants this year, Brian Wilson’s faith has been a topic I was interested in.

It wasn’t until today that I researched the reasons for his “crossing over” at the end of the games that he pitches.

Today Brian went on the DL (disabled list), along with many other players from the Giants team.

I have been reflecting lately, and praying for, the Giants.

I found it interesting that the Holy Spirit would put a baseball team on my heart to pray for. I had asked myself, “Sharon, why is praying for a baseball team important? After all, it’s JUST a game”. And then I thought, “No, it isn’t about the game. It’s about the players. Why is this team going through so much turmoil?”

It came to me.

They are one of the few teams I’m aware of who collectively honor the Lord. They aren’t ashamed of their faith. They believe strongly in showing that faith in small ways and big ways. And Brian Wilson is one who demonstrates his strength comes from the Lord by “crossing over”.

So, we pray for them. All of them. They’re up against the wall with injuries daily.

They are going to be held up to God for prayer by us daily, that their faith will remain strong and that they will come out of this rough spot spiritually stronger than ever.

GIANTS – Brian Wilson – Why he crosses his arms at the end of a game

At long last:

Brian Wilson reveals the meaning behind his crossed arms gesture after he saves a game

Posted by on July 14th, 2008 at 8:48 pm | Categorized as Uncategorized

One of the features I hoped to make semi-regular on this blog is an offer to take your questions for Giants players. If it’s an intriguing one, I’ll go and ask it for you. (See the Ask a Giant! tab at the top of this page.)

At the end of May, reader Bruce Chiang wanted to know why Brian Wilson crosses his arms after he records the save. One hand makes a fist (inside his glove) and he points his index finger with the other hand.

Wilson was evasive. He wasn’t ready to let it be publicly known what it meant. He pledged to tell me, but only on his terms and only when he was a little more confident that his season was going the right way.

Well, now he’s an All-Star and is likely to pitch an inning today at Yankee Stadium. So he promised to sit down with me on this last road trip and divulge the whole story.

One problem: He works out like a madman. Every time I tried to track him down at Shea Stadium or Wrigley Field, he was running stairs, lifting weights, running the warning track or perspiring on the exercise bike.

I got to the park massively early to track him down Sunday…and walked in the press box to see one player running on the track. Wilson, of course.

He took the loss in Saturday afternoon’s game and was doing his penance.

“I’m punishing myself,” he said.

When he switched to a stationary bike in a dank little storage space off the clubhouse, he finally agreed to talk to me.

(Some of you figured out it’s a mixed-martial arts reference and there’s a clothing company called One More Round that uses the slogan. Others thought it was a symbol of his devout Christian faith.)

Short answer: You’re both right. It goes a little deeper than that, though.

I promised Wilson that I would allow him to describe the personal significance of the gesture in his own words. That’s what follows, straight out of my tape recorder:

“One More Round is a clothing line. It has to do with the drive and determination that certain fighters have when their backs are against the wall. It’s, `No matter how deep I am in this fight, no matter how badly burned I am, I’ve got one more round in me.’ That’s basically the motto, the creed, of One More Round. No matter what it takes, I’ve got one more in me.

“And to me, that relates to what I do on the mound. In the ninth inning, your back is against the wall and you’re probably facing the meat of the order. Whether it’s bases loaded, no outs, you’re only up by one, whatever, you’ve got one more round left in you. You can’t back down, you can’t give in, and that’s exactly how I portray my inning — as a war, as a battle. So when I go out there, I’m fighting for my team. I don’t care about any personal statistics, giving up runs or whatever. As long as I preserve the win, everything’s OK.

“Now, one of the main things I do after a game is the crossing of the arms. That’s on a T-shirt I wear underneath my jersey when I pitch. (He wore that T-shirt in an ESPN interview last month.) That’s just respecting the fighters and their commitment and determination and the hard work they put in.

“And also it’s taking into consideration my own walks in life. For instance, when I cross my arms, I have my left hand in the fist and my right hand goes underneath pointing with my (index) finger. What I’ve taken into my own belief is that this finger represents one man. I’m that one person. And I can only go so far in life leaning on my own understandings and my own strength. The fist represents the power of the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The fist is symbolic of a circle. It’s never-ending. This strength will only continue to grow. So here’s the strength of God and the strength of man. And without him, I am nothing. I can only go so far in this life. But when I cross, I now have this one person with the strength of Christ, and I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. I can get over any battles in life.

“So I basically give respect to the ultimate fighting world and I also give respect to Christ, the audience of one that I play for. I don’t play for anything else. I play to impress Him and only Him and I must honor Him through defeat and also successes because I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the strength that He gives me. Talent only goes so far. But faith gets you a little farther. So that’s what it is. It just represents my faith and trust in him, and letting him know and the world know that any believer that walks with Christ, or any walk of life you have, no matter where you are, I’m showing respect to you for your hard work, too. Because it’s not easy living in this world.”

I asked him why he decided to make the gesture at the end of a game.

“I just thought it would be a good time. It shows no disrespect toward anybody. It’s all positive praise. It’s not for showboating. It’s not to start an epidemic. It’s just me getting a quick message out to the world and to Christ and that’s it. I just thought, `What more perfect time to display my faith than at the end of a game?’”

I knew that Wilson came to Christianity later in life. His father died of kidney cancer when he was 17, and for a long time, he was disillusioned.

“I had to go through my struggles in life. My alienation towards Christianity was very prominent through my adolescence. One day it hit me. I felt I needed to start correcting my life. This happened when I was 23 years old. I was in Augusta, Ga. (playing for the Giants’ low-A club), and I was just playing cards, going about my business, and every Sunday a group of guys would go with the team chaplain. I didn’t even know what `chaplain’ meant.

“Well, my father passed away when I was 17 and you know, I was praying he wouldn’t die. And he was taken away from me. I didn’t understand. It had nothing to do with your prayers not being answered. It was just his time to go. But me being 17 years old, not a very mature kid, I just took that as Him turning his back on me, so I turned my back on Him. When I put my cards down and went in the dugout to speak to the team chaplain, I soon learned that wasn’t the way it worked. No matter how many times I turn my back on God, He’ll always be in front of me. I could stray away from Him for 90 years but as long as I know Him for one day, He’ll honor me in heaven. So I thought that would be one heck of a life-altering change that I should make.”

I asked him about teammates dropping the X, including Omar Vizquel who does it every time. (Omar doesn’t know what it means. “I just like him because he’s crazy,” Vizquel said.)

“Yeah, we’ve got the first baseman doing it, too. Usually you cross your arms when you’re playing behind the runner, every once in awhile they’ll throw it up for me just to ease my mind. (Rich) Aurilia does it jokingly, but I take it as a reminder of why I’m out here. It’s, `Remember what kind of gift you have, and most of all, don’t let your team down.’”