What do Josh Hamilton, Mariano Rivera, Albert Pujols, Brian Roberts, Andy Pettitte and Lance Berkman all have in common? The obvious answer is that they’ve all represented a Major League team during an All-Star Game. Another thing these men have in common is that they all profess faith in Jesus Christ. None of them are perfect; nor do they profess to be perfect. Each one of these men has their own, unique struggles. Fame and money doesn’t solve all of their problems and wearing a Major League uniform doesn’t cover up their frailties. They are gifted; no doubt, but just like each one of us, they have challenges, temptations and weaknesses.
Several years ago, I attended the MLB All-Star game and had the privelige of attending the Baseball Chapel for the players in both leagues. There were at least 20 players in attendance. It was almost as if egos and agendas were “checked” at the door. These were some of the greatest athletes in the world…certainly the very best baseball players on the planet. There was tremendous energy in the room and the usual competitive banter that occurs between athletes. As you can imagine, there was also enormous confidence and swag. But, during Chapel, these were God’s children seeking answers, receiving encouragement and soaking in peace away from the cameras and microphones.
Their faith in Christ doesn’t guarantee a life without problems, but it does give them a Friend to help them in their times of frustration, failure and fatigue. Some would call this a “crutch,” but if you ask any one of them, I’m certain that they would call it a blessing. During times of frustration, God offers peace (John 14:27). When they struggle and fail, God gives strength (Philippians 4:13). When they are exhausted, God encourages them to rest in Him (Matthew 11:28).
These gifts are available to MLB All-Stars as well as to each one of us; they are offered by a loving God who would rather give freedom than to judge, give understanding instead of confusion and will provide faith when we doubt. We only need to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or, if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7, 9-11)
In God’s eyes, each one of us is an all-star. That’s why He sent Jesus to be “Immanuel, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
by Tyler Madison
What’s a typical day like on the November Baseball Outreach?
In a few days, we accomplish much: after breakfast, we have a short chapel. Then we load the buses and travel to six different baseball fields within the Santo Domingo/San Pedro area to conduct free two-to-three hour baseball clinics. After the clinic, we gather and share our faith. Before we leave, we give away equipment to the kids. Most of them are very poor and some show up to the clinics without shoes, let alone a glove or a bat. Continue reading
IP: Tell us about your background, where’d you go to school?
AP: I went to Deer Park High School, in Deer Park, Texas and then I attended one year of Junior College at San Jacinto in Houston. I actually signed with the University of Texas but I wasn’t crazy about the idea of going to college.
IP: Was there a definable moment when you were playing baseball in Little League or maybe High School that you thought, “Hey, I’m pretty good?”
AP: I was always one of the best pitchers on our team. We had some really good athletes at Deer Park, but during my junior and senior year I started separating myself a little bit from the other players. At that time, I started thinking that I was pretty good and when colleges like the University of Texas and LSU offered me scholarships,it sort of reaffirmed those thoughts.
IP: How many seasons did you play in the minors?
AP: I ended up playing three full seasons and then another half of a season. From San Jacinto I went to the Gulf Coast League, spent a year in Low A, a year in High A and then I split my last year between Double A and Triple A. I guess I was pretty consistent; I was fortunate. I never had a losing season in the minor leagues so I did really well all the way up.
IP: Were there any coaches or managers that come to mind that really helped you along the way?
AP: Wayne Graham was really influential in my career; he’s coaching at Rice University now but he was my coach at San Jacinto when I was there. He’s a real ‘go-getter’ and had a huge impact on me in terms of baseball and the fundamentals and the mentality of the game. He kind of kick-started me, and then I had several coaches along the way including Nardi Contreras who taught me an awful lot about pitching and how to set up hitters. And there were quite a few minor league pitching coaches who worked with me that were superb; I learned a lot from those guys as I was coming up. Joe Torre was really like a father figure to me in my career and he was a great manager, I really can’t say enough about Joe. Continue reading
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The high expectations for a Keith Madison publication or production may have been exceeded already and my only disappointment is that he has a quarterly magazine that has not yet progressed on to monthly or bi-monthly. It is a GREAT resource for all levels of baseball players, coaches or families.”
– Joe Roberts, Armstrong Atlantic State University; 2010 ABCA President
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-Scott Malone, Head Coach at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
I want to let you know how impressed I am with the magazine! It was a pleasure to read and also conveyed just the right message. Thank you for helping us not only become better coaches but more importantly, better people. It is an honor to serve the ABCA alongside such men of quality.
-John Casey, Heads Coach at Tufts University
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-Ron Polk, ABCA Hall of Famer
“Keith Madison and I have been friends for over 30 years. His is an outstanding coach and even a better person. He is a college baseball Hall of Famer who left a very successful coaching career to join SCORE International, and now devotes his time and life to spreading the Word to thousands of young people. With the new publication, Inside Pitch, thousands more will now be reached. We are excited about Coach Madison’s work, the new magazine and the great things that will continue to happen though SCORE International.”
– Dave Keilitz, Executive Director, ABCA