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Faith and Baseball

As a lifelong Cardinals fan, I was very excited to see this new book on Albert Pujols written by Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth. It is not too much to say that when Albert's baseball career winds up, he will be regarded by many as the greatest player of all-time. Yet, the greatness of talent and dedication to baseball is not really what the book is about. In Albert's own words he says, "Becoming a great baseball player is important to me, but it is not my primary focus. Because I know the Hall of Fame is not my ultimate destination. My life's goal is to bring glory to Jesus" (10). The book draws together the game of baseball and his excellence in playing alongside the unwavering faith he has in Jesus Christ. For many readers, learning about his faith will open up their eyes to a different side of him, one that is often overlooked. The book however is not just about Albert, but also about his Dee Dee and her amazing witness to Albert of her faith, her struggle in raising Isabella (with Down Syndrome), and their mutual effort to start and promote their foundation.

Pujol's statistics are incredible once you recognize that he has hit for over .300 average every year with 30 or more home runs and 100+ RBI's. Yet, for me as an avid follower of the Cardinals, these kinds of things weren't the most impressive. The chapter devoted to talking about the Pujols Foundation was exceptional. The authors relate that many mothers when finding out their child has Down Syndrome automatically choose for an abortion (159). Dee Dee tries to use her voice as a platform and her Foundation as a bridge to the community for families going through the same thing. If this weren't enough, the Pujols Foundation regularly brings immediate aid to the Dominican Republic through dental services, helping orphanages and helping kids find vocational schooling (202-203). It would be one thing for Albert to just throw a bunch of money to an organization and forget about the cause. Yet, Albert and Dee Dee go down there and provide help for the elderly, set up baseball games for the kids, and make meals for the workers, doing much through their own effort.

Faith and works accompanied together provide a strong witness to Christ in a culture that seeks to find pleasure elsewhere. Pujols, by example and hard work dedicates his life to excellence, to allowing Christ to be seen in his life. For the baseball fans, this book is great in that it provides chapters devoted to the Cardinals seasons from the beginning of Albert's career, including the magical year (2006). For those interested in who Albert is as a person, this book is a great window into his humble beginnings, the way he treats the game and his family, and his service to others. For those interested in his faith, this book devotes a great amount of energy to make certain that Albert's faith is as vibrant as ever, showing itself through concrete acts of lovingkindess.

The chapter devoted to providing a defense of Albert's innocence in relationship to Performance Enhancing Drugs was a bit overdone. Although I believe Albert has not taken PED's, the culture pushes against any player who puts up mind boggling stats in any sport. Rather, I think the real defense of his innocence is found in his character, the type of person he is and how his faith is a key component of his life.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.


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