August 31, 2005


Faith binds many on Sox: Evangelical Christians give sport a spiritual context (Bob Hohler, August 31, 2005, Boston Globe)

They gathered in a makeshift house of God -- a brick-walled retreat in Fenway Park otherwise reserved for postgame interviews -- and prayed for dead and dying loved ones. They prayed for American troops in hot spots abroad. And for the poor souls in the path of Hurricane Katrina.

As the Sunday baseball crowd streamed into the park less than an hour before the defending world champions played their 128th game of the season, a dozen members of the Red Sox -- the largest group of evangelical Christians on any team in Major League Baseball -- joined an equal number of coaches and staffers in sharing a bond of faith that is fast becoming the stuff of national renown among religious figures in sports. [...]

''Without question, chapel attendance among the Red Sox has been far and away more than any of the major league teams over the last two years," said Vince Nauss, president of Baseball Chapel.

Trot Nixon, Mike Timlin, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Curt Schilling, Doug Mirabelli, Bill Mueller, Matt Clement, John Olerud, Mike Myers, Tony Graffanino, Chad Bradford: Each Sox player considers himself an evangelical Christian who believes in the sacred authority of the Bible and the promise of Jesus Christ as his savior.

''In terms of coming to Bible study and chapel, this team has more guys involved than any team I've ever been with," said Olerud, who has played for five teams over 17 seasons in the majors.

The evangelical Sox believe in sharing the ''good news" of their faith, as they demonstrated after their remarkable comeback last October when they climbed out of a three-game chasm against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series and swept the Cardinals in the World Series.

''I wanted to be able to glorify God's name when all was said and done," Schilling proclaimed after he won Game 2 of the World Series while bleeding through his sock because of an experimental medical procedure that enabled him to pitch with a dislocated ankle tendon.

Win or lose, Schilling and his fellow evangelicals said, the message remains the same.

''This is our platform, our place to speak our faith and live our faith," Timlin said. ''This is a special gift from God, to play baseball, and if we can spread God's word by doing that, then we've almost fulfilled our calling."

Christy Mathewson's mom had wanted her son to be a minister, but consoled herself:
Sometimes I find consolation in the thought that perhaps he is a preacher. His work has brought him before the multitude in a kindly manner; his example is a cleanly one. He reaches the masses of the people in his own way and he must give them something through his character.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2005 12:00 AM

Given the attitude towards religion by so many of the elites in the Boston area who also regard themselves as die-hard Red Sox fans, this story has to spark conflicting emotions. But as long as those players keep producing, it will be easy for them to keep those emotions in check.

Posted by: John at August 31, 2005 10:41 AM

Schilling might try asking the big guy for some help with his location.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 31, 2005 1:05 PM

I am proud to share the same belief with these Red Sox players, my brothers through Christ and I am psyched to get a chance to get my thoughts to a massive public. I have met Bill Mueller in '03, got his autograph and told him how I like what he said on the field after games (He thanks God). As he was signing he looked at me and said with a very thankful tone "Thank-You." Varitek, I spoke with on NESN in '03 telling him he was the best I have seen him in hitting and he was smoking....(meaning on fire at the plate), to make a long story short: he acknowledged me on that in '03 on the teams way back to Oakland for the last two wild card games, and I finally got his autograph 8/27/05! Thanks Jason! Timlin, I have spoken with also, and I got Mike Myers autograph along with him signing one for one of my nephews saying in re: to him playing little league "work hard and God bless you". Where I am going with this is that I have seen info on their faith and I love sharing these stories about players on a team that will forever be part of history. I heard about this article and I had to check it out and seeing the opportunity to share these stories right on the net.......hopefully the sox players tune in!!!!!! May these guys be able to have their belief grow on the other players and people in general including you who may read this, may they and their families be continually blessed and May The Lord help them and guide them for the '05 World Series two in a row win! My mom knew there was something special about these guys and it is great it is now being verified in the public eye!

Posted by: Kathy Malitsky at September 3, 2005 1:32 AM