Pitching for a Purpose
By Shannon Woodland & Aaron Little
The 700 Club
CBN.com -Getting drafted by a Major League ball club directly out of high school is every baseball player’s dream. For pitcher Jeremey Affeldt, it was reality.
“Baseball was something that I was kinda always naturalIy good at,” says Jeremy. “I liked hitting, I liked pitching, I liked playing the outfield, I liked playing first base, I mean I just liked the whole aspect of baseball.”
Climbing through the Kansas City Royals farm system as a pitcher, it didn’t take long before Jeremy got the call to the Majors.
“I got to the big league at a real young age, 22,” says Jeremy. “They wanted me to be in Triple-A starting, getting some more experience, but I threw so well in Spring and they were trying to kinda go with the youth movement, and so they wanted me to learn at the big league level.”
Kansas City proved to be too much too soon for the young left hander and the frustration of injuries and a losing season ushered Jeremy back to a familiar emotion.
“I was angry cause we lost all the time. I was angry because I didn’t know if I was going to be a starter or a reliever and I just had no idea who I was in baseball,” remembers Jeremy. “And it got to a point where I wanted to quit.”
The last time he experienced such anger was years earlier at his Spokane, Washington high school. The son of a career military man, Jeremy was upset to attend yet another new school.
“My whole attitude changed,” says Jeremy. “I didn’t really want to be there. I was having a hard time figuring out who my friends were. I was getting picked on and my high school years up to my senior year were very difficult when it came to authority issues. All the pent up anger just exploded and I became very rebellious. When I would do something in rage, everybody would turn their attention to me. My voice raised, I got loud, and then people heard me and it was a control issue. I wanted to control the situation and I could. It’s why I enjoyed sports because I could get my anger out.”
Jeremy’s hot-headedness eventually threatened his playing time on his Christian school’s basketball team, so he began to get serious about his relationship with Jesus.
“I started studying the Bible because I was scared to not play basketball,” recalls Jeremy. “And I remember the Bible coming alive for me and reading scripture and understanding what it meant and just seeing Jesus become Alive. And I just remember actually visualizing what it meant to know that when Jesus died he completely erased…cause I had a lot of anger. And part of the reason that he died was because he knew that Jeremy, in 2000 years, was going to be a rebellious teenage kid and he loved me enough to die for me.”
That high school transformation, and a devoted wife, helped Jeremy find the strength to pull through his Kansas City blues.
“I remember sitting on my counter crying to Larissa and I was like, ‘honey, I don’t want to play anymore,’” says Jeremy.
“I just told him, ‘that’s not an option. Like, it’s already written, the story’s already written,’” remembers Larissa. ‘We’re gonna push through this. I know it’s tough, but we’re gonna be fine and we will get there and it’ll be ok. Right now is hard but it won’t be like this forever.’”
“And I remember at that point praying, I said, ‘God, if you still want me in this game, then you gotta trade me,’” says Jeremy.
At the midseason trade deadline, Jeremy got a fresh start in Colorado.
“And I remember telling my wife that I got traded to Colorado and the excitement we felt for just a new start,” says Jeremy.
“It just made sense that that’s where we were meant to be going,” says Larissa.
“In 2007 I was praying for the season and I said, ‘God, you’ve given me another year to play. I need a reason to be a baseball player, because if all it is is to go out in front of 50,000 people and be cheered or booed based on how you do that day, there wasn’t a lot of fulfillment at succeeding on the field if that’s all I was doing it for,’” says Jeremy.
Then Jeremy teamed up with an old friend from Kansas City to start a ministry to feed the hungry.
“And I remember he told me the game plan,” says Jeremy. “And I’m like, ‘Mike, I’m in. And right now I can’t do much, but I’ll financially back you because I need to have a reason to keep playing this game. And the finances are pretty good, but it’s still a shallow game to me if I don’t have a reason to do it.’ And I remember I got to help start this food initiative and it was doing well and I was finally pitching for a purpose. There was a reason I’m on that field. That brought joy on the field for me. And it was the best year I had, it was my best year ever. Went to the World Series for the first time, the first time Colorado went, the first time I went to the World Series. I was on cloud nine. Baseball was awesome again. I actually enjoyed playing the game. I enjoyed going to the park every day.”
Since coming to the San Francisco Giants in 2009, Jeremy has been part of two World Series Champion teams, but he has remained grounded and focused on why God has him in the game.
“I truly believe that I have been given this platform for a reason and it’s not for seven homes and ten cars and so much money I just don’t know what else to do with it but spend it on myself,” says Jeremy. “I believe he’s given us money because I believe he’s asking me to establish his covenant.”
“We’ve always known that baseball is like, the tool, the catalyst, the platform for something bigger, for something else,” says Larissa. “And in the midst of life, of having babies, having kids, playing baseball, the crazy schedule, we’ve always kept our focus that there is something. There is a big plan. God has a plan. This is where we’re meant to be now, but there is somewhere we’re going.”
“I do believe, when you do Matthew 25, in which I stand on, in which I’ve started an organization, Generation Alive, on the premise of Matthew 25. That when you feed the least of theses, when you clothe the least of these, when you give water to the least of these, when you house the least of these, when you visit the least of these in prison, you’re visiting, clothing, housing, feeding, giving water to Jesus himself. That’s what I’ve been asked to do is love my neighbor as myself,” says Jeremy.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.