By Del Duduit
In a few short weeks, my book, Dugout Devotions: Inspirational Hits from MLB’s Best, will launch. I love working with New Hope Publishers out of Alabama. My personal goal is to make them Buckeye fans some day.
The book becomes available on Amazon on February 25, and I’m planning a big shindig at Market Street Café, a quaint and popular place for coffee and lunch in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Over the past two years, this project has taken a great deal of my time. I am not complaining at all but just acknowledging that I have poured a lot of effort into this book.
My post last week described the entire process of how this manuscript came together. But I haven’t told you yet what the devotional is about.
The primary target audience for Dugout Devotions is obviously baseball fans. However, it’s not limited to this select group.
Naturally, I’d like for people from all demographics to purchase and read the book. But overall, it is really for anyone who needs inspiration or motivation.
The subjects of the book are some of the top names in the MLB. I personally interviewed each one of them. I spent hours on the road going to Cincinnati and Cleveland, snagging interviews with many All-Stars. And there are some athletes and coaches you may not recognize.
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But it’s the stories they shared with me that I want people to focus on when they read this book.
Below is a sneak peek of a portion of one of the devotions.
But let me set the scene first.
I made my way into the clubhouse of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Cleveland last season.
My goal was to interview Albert Pujols, the bigger-than-life first baseman who will be a first-ballot hall-of-famer when he retires.
I walked in and saw him right away. He was with Mike Trout, and they were engaged in a game at the Golden Tee arcade. Both had their game faces on — playing the video game.
The three-time MVP glanced over as I stood just to his left, about four feet away. I honored his space and made sure he had enough room for his backswing.
“Can I help you?” he said with a ‘you are bothering me’ tone. I said I wanted to talk to him for a few minutes when he’s done.
“About what?” he said, once again with the tone that suggested for me to get lost.
I mentioned I wanted to discuss his faith and how it plays a part in his life.
His demeanor softened and he agreed, but only after he and Trout finished the grudge-game golf match. They were on hole seven so I knew it would be a little bit.
The main thing I wanted to ask him about was the question he poses to runners who make it to first base, the position he’s claimed for nearly two decades.
We enjoyed a wonderful chat at his locker, and this is part of what you will read when you dive into Dugout Devotions.
Below is a clip from Chapter 2, titled “What Is the Most Important Thing in Life?”
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. —Romans 1:16 KJV
“I just want to encourage the guys I meet in this game and let them know they can stay strong in their faith,” Albert Pujols said. “Never lose your relationship with God.”
When runners make it to first base against the Angels, they hear a question from the three-time National League MVP.
“What is the most important thing in life?” he asks. Some reply that God is a priority while others mention family, and some don’t even know what to say. How would you respond if a two-time World Series champion posed this question to you?
For Albert, he feels his job as a Christian is to challenge everyone he meets, especially at first base where he spends a great deal of his time. He spent the first ten years of his professional career with the St. Louis Cardinals and joined the Los Angeles Angels in 2012.
“I represent a great organization with the Angels,” he said. “But I believe I serve my Lord above all, and I need to share my testimony with others.”
When he first came into the MLB, he was not a believer. “I didn’t know anything about Him other than He might exist,” he said. “But I never had that relationship with Him until I was presented the gospel.”
His wife Deidra and his grandmother introduced him to Christ. Now he feels it is his privilege and calling to tell others about the goodness of God. “My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus,” he said.
“My life is not somewhat dedicated to the Lord, it’s a 100-percent commitment to Jesus and to His will.”
God has blessed Albert with tremendous athletic ability, and Albert gives Him all the credit for the talents that allow him to serve as an ambassador on the diamond.
“I use this as my platform to elevate the name of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Some have TV, and some have radio and a pulpit—I use the baseball field.”
He also knows the difference between saying you’re a Christian and living a true example of righteousness.
“This is not a religious thing to me,” he said. “This is about letting God take control of your life and use you to bring glory to His name.”
And Albert capitalizes on every opportunity he can to praise God. If people don’t get a chance to hear him talk about the Lord, his spikes still present the message of Christ—Philippians 4:13 appears on one shoe, and the other displays Romans 5:19.
His priority is to make sure everyone he comes into contact with knows he serves a loving God.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. —Romans 5:19 KJV
Now there is more to this chapter. But you will have to grab the book and see how it ends.
How would you answer Albert if he asked you what is the most important thing in life?
Chances are that will never happen. In your case, you might be more likely to be fishing with your son on the lake. After the day’s first catch, your son looks over and says, “Dad, what is the most important thing in your life?”
Ah, there you go. You are put on the spot. What is your answer? What matters to you?
I give suggestions based on Biblical principals about how to be bold enough not only to answer the question but how to be an example to your children.
I hope this gives you a better idea of what the book is about. I use baseball players to teach a motivational lesson.
Is Dugout Devotions for baseball fans? Yes. Is it for people who don’t enjoy America’s Favorite Past Time that much? Of course. The book is for anyone who wants to find inspiration to be the best person you can be.
My prayer and desire are that you enjoy Dugout Devotions: Inspirational Hits from MLB’s Best, and let me know your thoughts.
Then ask yourself, “what is the most important thing in your life?” What is your answer? I’d like to know.
If you can’t make the launch party, then feel free to pre-order Dugout Devotions here.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.
His first book — BUCKEYE BELIEVER – 40 Days of Devotions for The Ohio State Faithful –can be purchased on Amazon here.