As a sports fan, Chicago fan, Cubs fan and Sox watcher, read and enjoy this great article by a Godly, Christian man from Faith Church who loves God, his family, his church and sports. Daryl is a lead writer in sports for the famous Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. Great article, Daryl! Thanks!!
By Daryl Van Schouwen
I had the privilege of watching White Sox pitcher Philip Humber throw a perfect game in Seattle on Saturday.
As a reporter who covers the Sox for the Chicago Sun-Times, I have admired Humber since he first came to the Sox at spring training in Arizona last year. He was just another pitcher among many in camp trying to win a job. That winter, he had been put on waivers, which is essentially the same thing as being cut, by two other teams.
There was something different about Humber, though. He was once a hot-shot prospect who was the third player chosen (by the New York Mets) in the draft, one pick after Justin Verlander. Humber dealt with injuries and keeping his emotions in check, however, and was a bust with the Mets, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals.
Things got so bad for him that he wanted to quit three years into his professional career. But as a top pick, he had a five-year contract, so rather than walk away from the money he kept on pitching. He said his perspective changed when, on a lark, he went to Puerto Rico to play in baseball’s Winter League with a bunch of prospects and wannabes who had no chance, really, of playing in the majors. They played for the love of baseball, and it opened Humber’s eyes.
He not only won a spot on the Sox roster last spring, he was their best starting pitcher during the first half of the season. His name even came up as a possible All-Star Game candidate.
But here’s the thing about Humber that I like. He’s a Christian. As I wrote in Tuesday’s Sun-Times, “Colossians 3:23” is inscribed in big letters on his glove. But Humber has a way of sharing his faith without, for lack of a better word, annoying people or making them uncomfortable. He’s a smart dude, a low-key Texan who attended Rice University, and I think he’s very much aware of how he wants to project who he is.
When Humber was brought to a special interview room after his perfect game, I asked the first question. I had a hundred questions in mind but I didn’t know where to begin, so I offered up this prize-winner:
“What just happened there?’’
Here is how Humber answered:
“I wish I could tell you. It was something that was out of my control. I know God had a hand in it. I’m thankful. It’s so humbling. The team played awesome.
“It’s not me. It’s really not. God, it’s his timing. I’m working as hard as I have my whole career but before it was about me. Now it’s not. I’m just thankful for where I’m at. Put it that way.
“I worked hard at my craft and I wanted that work to pay off so I would be validated. That was my identity, as a baseball player. And I evaluated myself by my stat line. If it wasn’t good, I didn’t feel so good. It took me a long time to figure out that it’s not about me or us. Whatever we’re doing, we should do it to glorify God. That’s a whole lot better way to live because you know that he’s in control and you can be thankful. I’m not saying I’m always going to have good games because of that but I will be a joyful person because of where my heart is.’’
The writers who travel with the team have talked to Humber each day since the perfect game. On Sunday, he hadn’t heard from President Obama, who is a Sox fan, and he joked that perhaps the president “knows that I’m a registered Republican.’’
On Monday, he got the call, and again I was impressed by what Humber said about the conversation. He probably doesn’t agree with a lot of Obama’s politics but he showed respect. Thanks for the lesson, Phil.
“He called me today. It definitely is an honor to speak to him. He just wanted to congratulate me. He even asked about [wife] Kristan and the baby [boy expected May 8, their first] and asked about how that was going. He shared some of his experience of being a new father and stuff. He’s a very nice man and he represents our country in a good way. He’s definitely a great communicator and I appreciate him talking to me.’’
Humber also received a congratulatory Twitter message on Monday from Tim Tebow.
“I’m a fan of his,’’ Humber said. “Not just for what he has done on the field but what kind of person he is and how he carries himself. I hope I can be a little bit of that as far as being an athlete and someone who does the right thing and says the right things. I had tweeted him this offseason about his hospital he’s building over in the Philippines but I definitely understand he couldn’t get back to me. He probably has a lot of people tweeting him every day. It was nice for him to reach out to me and just congratulate me and take time out of his day to do that.’’
Also that same day, Humber appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and did a Top Ten list. Things are changing at breakneck speed in Humber’s life right now, but I am quite sure he won’t change.
I looked up Colossians 3:23 in the pressbox on Monday.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’’ And verse 24 that follows: “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’’
Humber’s teammates shared about how, while Humber was going for baseball history in the ninth inning Saturday, they watched with palms sweating and hearts pounding through their chests. These are guys whose pulse rates don’t waver when they’re up to bat with 40,000 people in the stands, but they were beside themselves wanting so badly for Humber to achieve the feat. The mood in the clubhouse was euphoric after he pulled it off. Humber’s teammates, I believe, were more moved by what happened than he was.
And a big reason why? Because all of them — Christians, non-Christians and those somewhere in between – respect who he is.
Now that’s good stuff.