There’s something about spring that sparks our hearts with expectancy. The days lengthen, the cold does its best to keep its distance, and Major League Baseball revs up once again.
As Opening Day is celebrated across the nation, many of the top names in the game shared with FCA about the impact their faith makes upon their life, both on the diamond and off it.
Kyle Gibson | Minnesota Twins
Beyond his stats, Kyle Gibson wants the world to know him for his love of Jesus Christ more than anything else. He spoke to FCA Magazine about his own story of starting out in baseball, his setbacks along the way and how his faith in Christ grounds him.
“Having faith in Christ doesn’t change my competitiveness,” he wrote for the magazine. “It doesn’t change how much I want to win or my preparation for every start. Instead, I feel like it allows me to do what God has put me here to do—to love others with His love and play baseball as passionately as possible.
“Before I take the field,” he continued, “I pray that people see God through me. I want God’s light to shine through my actions, how I respect my teammates, and how I treat the media and everyone in the stadium. I want my legacy to be more about Christ and His love and sacrifice that saved me, not anything I have ever done or achieved on the baseball field.”
Adrian Gonzalez | Los Angeles Dodgers
At 34, Adrian Gonzalez has spent nearly half his life in professional baseball, first in the minors starting at the age of 18, then making his MLB debut in 2004 with Texas. Just a year before, Gonzalez gave his life to Christ shortly after marrying his middle school sweetheart, Betsy. Since then, there have been many ups and downs. Now, as he begins his sixth season with the Dodgers, Gonzalez knows where his legacy lies.
“I don’t want to be remembered in baseball,” Gonzalez told FCA Magazine. “I want to be remembered as a good witness for Christ.
“Looking back, I’m grateful for everything that happened,” he said. “It made me a stronger person. It made me understand that you have to leave it all up to Christ and His path for you. … Nothing is mine. Everything is God’s; everything is Christ’s. No matter what you do, no matter what you obtain, it’s all earthly. It’s not godly.”
Watch an FCA video with Gonzalez here.
Chase Headley | New York Yankees
Back when he was a Padre in San Diego in 2013, Chase Headley wrote an essay for FCA Magazine, where he said that he knows how important it is to be surrounded by “men who can be trusted to hold one another accountable and be there for one another through the difficult times that will inevitably occur.”
“Looking back on my life and career,” Headley wrote, “I know that God is the only the reason I am where I am today. He has chosen to put me here to share His love with others. I understand I have a huge platform as a professional athlete, so I try to use it to share my faith through my actions, how I handle adversity on the field, and in the words I speak to the media and fans.
“I’m extremely blessed to be able to play this game,” he continued. “I enjoy every moment I’m on the field because I know it won’t last forever. When the day comes that I have to step away from the game, I hope people say I made an impact for the Lord by playing the game with passion and that I was bold in my witness for Him.”
Clayton Kershaw | Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw is one of the biggest names in the game today, but even during his high school years, fans were loading the bleachers to watch the young phenom pitch. It was also during high school that Kershaw went to an FCA Huddle and kept attending for four years. In fact, he and his wife, Ellen, return to his alma mater each offseason to speak at the Huddle there.
“In high school, everybody called themselves Christians, but FCA brought it to the forefront,” Kershaw told FCA for a magazine interview. “It really helped me grow and showed me that it’s a lifestyle. Jesus is your Savior, and you live for Him. Everything you do is for Him, and athletics are a part of that.
“My legacy … I hope it’s more than baseball,” Kershaw continued. “I hope I have a lasting impact. At the same time, I hope I get to play baseball for a long time. I love it. I hope I get to do a ton of different things with that. But I hope it opens up a lot of different avenues that wouldn’t be easily accessible without baseball.”
Watch an FCA video of Kershaw here.
Andrew McCutchen | Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh certainly loves Andrew McCutchen, partly for his infectious attitude, partly for his commitment to the city, but perhaps mostly for his role in taking the Pirates from perennial bottom-dwellers to playoff contenders over the past several seasons.
But “Cutch” hopes his fans will know and love him for something else—his commitment to Christ—and he says that while baseball is all about consistency, consistent faith is just as important. He added that the ministry and message of FCA has been an important element of his career and his faith.
“It’s great to have people ministering to and influencing athletes and coaches for the Lord,” he said. “FCA provides opportunities for kids to hear about God, and then go and tell someone else, and it will continue down the line. I’m thankful to FCA and love to help in any way I can because of the impact they are having.”
Read more about Andrew McCutchen here.
Ben Zobrist | Chicago Cubs
Back-to-back World Series winner Ben Zobrist may be be looking for his third consecutive trophy, but he’s keeping his eyes on Jesus. In an FCA Magazine article, the 2016 World Series MVP said that God was a central part of a significant turning point in his life.
“I did a lot of questioning … and trying to figure out where I was going in life,” Zobrist said. “I had a lot of anxiety that I had to release to the Lord. Finally I just said, ‘You know what? I don’t need any of this. I’d rather have peace. I’d rather trust God and let Him take care of it all.’ And that’s when everything started opening up.”
Watch an FCA video with Zobrist here.
Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Twins; Juan Ocampo/LA Dodgers; USA Today Sports; Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers; Juan Ocampo/LA Dodgers; Pittsburgh Pirates