Baseball’s regular season is right around the corner, and no other sport seems to lend itself to spiritual applications than America’s pastime. In this collection of thirty devotionals, Del Duduit and others collect stories from the diamond and relate them to one’s faith journey. The devotions are encouraging, and many of them would work well as illustrations in sermons.
Like any book, there are positive and negative aspects in Dugout Devotions. There is a proper emphasis on the importance of relying on the Word rather than just feelings (2 Timothy 3:16-17). However, there is the contradictory mention of a player who thought the Lord “tapped…him on the shoulder.” In another place, a devotional makes reference to the reader “really feel(ing) God calling you to go on (a mission) trip,” and another talks of a player “receiv(ing) a divine call” about human trafficking.
Many of the entries end with a section called “Step Up To The Plate,” offering suggestions how one might apply the lessons from the devotion. Bible study, prayer, and attendance to worship services are often among the recommendations.
While there are several devotions that discuss a player’s decision to give his life to Christ, there is no mention of how that is done. When one reads the book of Acts and the epistles, the conversion process is on display: one becomes a Christian by hearing the gospel (Romans 10:17), believing it (Romans 10:9-10), repenting of sin (Acts 3:19), confessing one’s belief (Acts 8:37), and being immersed for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). With so much confusion in the religious world, it would be prudent to include such information in any religious book. One cannot decide for himself how he comes to God; only God can tell us how to do that, and He does tell us in His Word.
For readers who are grounded in the truth, these devotions can be encouraging. One must always be careful, though, regardless of the writer, to consistently verify what man writes with what God has revealed. There are a lot of people with good intentions that will end up on the wrong team in eternity because they trusted in man without turning to God’s Word (Matthew 7:13-23).
The writers of the devotions are Del Duduit, Michelle Medlock Adams, Ryan Farr, Beckie Lindsey, Scott McCausey, Clint Rutledge, and Cyle Young. The major leaguer players, coaches, and executives featured are Brian Dozier, Albert Pujols, Ben Zobrist, Clayton Kershaw, Francisco Lindor, Aaron Judge, Andrew McCutchen, Andy Pettitte, Michael Lorenzen, Tony Graffanino, R.A. Dickey, Mike Sarbaugh, Adam Wainwright, Cody Allen, Jim Morris, Mike Matheny, Blaine Boyer, Mike Rikard, Tim Martin, Matt Carpenter, and Adam Frazier.
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 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 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, 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.