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A common faith

I was raised in the church of Christ and currently serve as the associate minister for the Point Pleasant church of Christ in Hebron, Kentucky. I love studying the Bible, preaching, and sharing fellowship with God’s saints. If you have ever read this blog before, you know I also love baseball. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some big league players who share a common faith through the Lord’s church.

The listing of a player below does not endorse all that player believes or how he behaves. Every individual has a responsibility to remain steadfast in the faith. This is simply a list of some of the players associated Cooper with the churches of Christ, not an approval of them individually.

  • Fred McGriff is listed on several websites as being a member of the church of Christ, but I cannot find any further information than that. The “Crime Dog” slugged 493 home runs in his career, and very likely would have topped 500 if the 1994 strike had not robbed him of so many games. He never gained any traction with the BBWAA for Hall of Fame induction, but I am confident he will be recognized by the Veterans Committee in the near future.
  • Bobby Murcer became a Christian in 1967 through the influence of his wife. He played 17 seasons for the Yankees, Cubs, and Giants, and went to five straight All-Star games in the 1970s. He went on to a broadcasting career for the Yankees after his on-field days were done. Murcer passed from complications related to brain cancer in 2008.
  • Cecil Cooper made his debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1971, but it was not until he joined the Milwaukee Brewers in 1977 that he became a baseball star. He led the AL in doubles and RBI twice, won a couple Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, and was named to five All-Star teams. He retired from playing in 1987, but stayed close to the game working as an agent and coach; he managed the Astros from the end of 2007 through most of 2009.
  • Lindy McDaniel was an All-Star reliever who finished third in Cy Young voting in 1960. My dad remembers worshiping with him in Cincinnati whenever the Cardinals were in town. McDaniel McDaniel also preached during and after his big league career in Oklahoma, Missouri, California, New Mexico, and Texas. He published a newsletter in the 1960s and 1970s and a blog starting in 2009, both under the title, “Pitching for the Master” (the last blog post was in 2014).
  • Jim Morris was never a baseball superstar, but was made famous by a Disney movie in 2002, The Rookie. If you’re not familiar, Dennis Quaid played the role of Morris, who debuted for the Devil Rays in 1999 at the age of 35. While the movie is definitely dramatized (because that’s what Hollywood does), it is still an inspiring story. Morris did not come to know Christ until after his major league career.
  • Brian Flynn has pitched out of the bullpen for the Kansas City Royals since 2016. He came up as a starter with the Miami Marlins in 2013.
  • Rex Brothers signed a free agent contract with the New York Yankees in December after 2 seasons with the Braves. He pitched a scoreless inning and walked one batter in the Yankees’ first spring training game Saturday. His little brother Hunter pitched in the Rockies system for two years but never made it past Grand Junction.
  • Josh Willingham won the Silver Slugger award after his 35-homer season for the Twins in 2012. His final at-bats came in the 2014 World Series with the Kansas City Royals.
  • Brad Ziegler had a solid career pitching for the A’s, Red Sox, Marlins, and Diamondbacks, and retired from the Diamondbacks in October last year. He had a habit of adding “1 John 5:5” to his autograph early in his career, Norris but changed to “Joshua 1:9” a few years ago.
  • Daniel Norris was the fourth youngest player in the bigs when he debuted for the Blue Jays in 2014 and received some press for living out of a van. He hit a home run in his first major league at-bat, and was the first American League pitcher ever to hit a homer at Wrigley Field.
  • Steve Liddle is a bench coach for the Tigers and played eight years in the minors from 1981 to 1988.
  • Anthony Vasquez pitched in seven games for the Mariners in 2011, but his baseball story continued beyond that. He pitched in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system just last season and signed a new minor league contract with the organization in January.

A great deal of this information comes from Bobby Ross Jr.’s articles in the Christian Chronicle. If you are aware of other big league ballplayers that are members of the church of Christ, please drop their names and any relevant links about their faith in the comments below.

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Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals – SNUBBED” Fred McGriff

McGriff

This is the one I just don’t understand. Clean player, 493 home runs, 1550 RBI. Five-time All-Star. Three Silver Sluggers. If it weren’t for the strike in 1994, Fred McGriff would have certainly hit the magic number 500 home runs. This guy is, in my book, hands-down a Hall of Famer. Yet, in his first nine years on the ballot, he couldn’t garner even 25% support from the BBWAA. He is polling at 38.7% tonight, far short of the necessary 75%. I’m sure the Veterans Committee will set it right in a few years, but it is disappointing that the Crime Dog isn’t getting the support now.

The next Blue Jay in the Hall of Fame?

Manny Ramirez retired a couple of days ago, and the baseball world was (for some reason) shocked. Carlos Delgado officially announced his retirement earlier today, and no one said a word. In an era of juiced-up sluggers, Delgado was reportedly clean. In any other era, he would be ushered into Cooperstown on the first ballot. But now? I’m not so sure.

Granted, he will have some stiff competition. In 2015, three pitching greats will also be debuting on the ballot: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz. The offensive competition isn’t as heavy: Troy Percival, Nomar Garciaparra, and the cheater Gary Sheffield. How much support will Delgado receive?

How much does he deserve?

In a career that spanned 17 seasons, he hit 473 home runs, drove in 1512 runs, and batted a respectable .280. His OPS+ was 138 for his career. He finished in the top ten for MVP voting 4 times, and received votes in 3 additional seasons. The negative? He was only a two-time All-Star.

The only non-PED eligible candidate with more home runs is another former Blue Jay, Fred McGriff…and it’s a crime the Crime Dog isn’t already there. The main knock against Delgado (and McGriff) seems to be that they failed to hit 500 home runs…but they came so close.

If you ask me, both should be in the Hall. I believe McGriff will get there some day, but I’m not sure Delgado will ever garner the support from the BBWAA for induction.

The best Blue Jays outside of Cooperstown

When I think of the Blue Jays, I think of their awesome 1980s uniforms in contrast to their boring duds worn today. There are some players that immediately come to mind as well, such as Dave Stieb, Jimmy Key, and Tony Fernandez. It was no surprise that those players were among the ones selected to the Blue Jays’ All-Time NON-HOF by position team on baseball-fever.com.

Among the players on my ballot, I believe McGriff and Alomar should be in the Hall of Fame already, and Alomar will almost certainly get the call in January. McGriff, on the other hand, will have some more campaigning to do.

My picks:
C: Darrin Fletcher
1B: Fred McGriff
2B: Roberto Alomar
SS: Tony Fernandez
3B: Kelly Gruber
LF: George Bell
CF: Devon White
RF: Joe Carter
sub1: John Olerud
sub2: Jesse Barfield
LHP: Jimmy Key
SP: Dave Stieb
SP: Juan Guzman
RP: Tom Henke
sub3: Cliff Johnson

The top picks of the BBF think tank:
C: Ernie Whitt
1B: Fred McGriff
2B: Roberto Alomar
SS: Tony Fernandez
3B: Kelly Gruber
LF: George Bell
CF: Devon White
RF: Jesse Barfield
LHP: Jimmy Key
P: Dave Stieb
P: Pat Hentgen
P: Doyle Alexander
RP: Tom Henke
sub1: John Olerud
sub2: Joe Carter

This is a pretty formidable team if you ask me. There are a lot of really good but not great players that passed through Toronto, and there was agreement on several of the positions. Alomar, Fernandez, Stieb and Key were all unanimous selections, while Henke was named on all but one ballot.

The Baseball Hall of Fame

Today is the day a bunch of guys who believe in the old adage “the pen is mightier than the sword” get to decide who should be immortalized forever in Cooperstown. And today is also the day a bunch of us guys who know better than those guys are going to complain about their decisions. We could do better, and through our obsessive habit of collecting baseball cards or memorizing statistics or however else we may manifest our love for the greatest sport ever invented, we will forever immortalize in our own minds the greats that the BBWAA ignores.

So the question is, who is on your fake ballot? Remember you can only pick 10 guys. Here is my list, in the order that I would put them in:

Dale Murphy
Tim Raines
Bert Blyleven
Barry Larkin
Roberto Alomar
Alan Trammell
Don Mattingly
Andre Dawson
Jack Morris
Dave Parker

The reason that the Murph is at the top of my list is because I believe he is the most glaring omission from the Hall of Fame. No, he didn’t reach the “magic numbers,” but for a time he was one of the best players in baseball. Never the best, but one of the best. There was never a doubt in my mind, and there still isn’t, that Dale Murphy belongs in the Hall of Fame.

The same can be said about all the guys on that list except Parker. I would vote for him every time, but I won’t be upset if he never makes it. I will be upset if Murphy doesn’t make it…in fact, I’m upset he’s not in right now. I know that he won’t get the call today, and probably never will from the BBWAA. He will have to wait for the Veteran’s Committee and hope that they do the right thing. But he should be there.

Raines is second on the list, even though I believe he is even more deserving than Murphy. He hasn’t been on the ballot as long as Murphy, and that’s why Murphy’s position is higher, but Raines absolutely should have a plaque in Cooperstown.

Of the first-timers on the ballot, Larkin and Alomar are the only two that I would vote for, and not just because I only have 10 spots on the ballot. Fred McGriff just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe in a few years I’ll change my mind, but he just misses the mark in my opinion. I like the guy and don’t have anything against him, and won’t throw a fit if he is enshrined, but I won’t vote for him (at least not yet). Same goes for Edgar Martinez. It has nothing to do with the DH role that he played…I just never ever ever considered him a Hall of Famer.

When I was a kid I had my baseball cards separated into shoeboxes – stars, rookies, Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers, and commons. Some of the guys I had in my FHOF shoebox shouldn’t have been there (Tommy John, Steve Garvey), but if they were even a borderline candidate, that’s where they went. McGriff was never in that box, and neither was Edgar. Nor was Galarraga, and it blows my mind that some people are thinking about voting for him. And Kevin Appier? Are you kidding me?

We’ll know the results later today, and while I expect two returnees (Blyleven, Dawson) and one newcomer (Alomar) to garner enough votes, I would really like to see this guy go in on the first ballot also…

Who is on your make-believe ballot?

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