When Athletes Become Role Models

One of my favorite projects that I have the pleasure of putting together on a regular basis, Baseball Digest Classic Discussions takes on some of the hard hitting and more personal issues surrounding the game. At the end of August last season, the Discussion series took on the subject role models and higher standards for athletes.

In the series, I suggested that parents and fans take time to learn more about the players that they take their kids to see. Take a look at how the player interacts with fans, the charity work that is done off the field, and the projects that he involves himself in. Today, in the midst of a season ending injury and one of the most disappointing moments in his career, Adam Wainwright moved himself into Role Model status in my mind. In an open letter on a blog site set aside for discussions of fellowship, Wainwright addressed the 2011 season.

I truly believe I was better prepared to play ball this year than ever before. This was supposed to be my year. Everyone I know, and don’t know, was telling me this was my year to win the Cy Young. I had thrown 7 bullpen sessions in preparation to face hitters for the first time, and everything was going great. I honestly can’t remember a time where my delivery and overall confidence in my stuff was even close to where it is now. But, God had different plans than all that for me this year. While facing hitters the first time I felt a twinge in my elbow, and long story short I am scheduled to have Tommy John surgery on monday morning.

Strong in his faith, the result was a heart tugging, inspiring, and emotional. He takes his reader through the thought process of a teammate, an athlete, a husband and a Christian. During one point of his open letter, he stated:

I believe I can still greatly impact God’s Kingdom from this disabled list. And if any of you people who I just bragged about catch me slippin….please slap me around.

Not many people can admit the challenge they face is minor in the grand scheme of things. Very few athletes take the time to thank God for an injury instead of a strikeout. Not many athletes would take the time, just days after a season ending diagnosis, to reach out with a very personal letter to his fans.

The Cardinals have an ace on their staff and in the clubhouse. It is not because of his 20-win seasons or climbing strikeout rates. It is not because of his bull dog attitude or ability to command respect. It is because he is a teammate, a friend, a hard worker, and a man strong in his faith.

You can read the entire transcript here.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

3 thoughts on “When Athletes Become Role Models

  1. Wow. Thanks for bringing attention to an important facet of this outstanding athlete’s career. I love baseball stories that move beyond stats and projections, and I marvel at Wainwright’s capacity to make the best of a devastating season-ending injury. His humility, acceptance, and faith are truly impressive. Great quotes too!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Judy. I have always tried to strive to find the story behind the athlete for my children. This man has inspired me beyond belief this past week.

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