Billy Wagner: Brave in Christ
By Shawn Brown
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: August 31, 2010
As a closing pitcher, Billy Wagner has one of the toughest jobs in baseball: come in late in the game, hold the lead, and win. He’s now with the Atlanta Braves, but he’s played for five teams in his 15-year pitching career. His 100-mile an hour fastball has helped the lefty save over 400 games – a mark few relief pitchers have reached. In the midst of his success, Billy’s never let baseball stardom cloud his view of life.
Billy Wagner: God put me in this situation for a bigger purpose than just playing this game.
He was raised in his grandparent’s Christian home. Billy remembers asking Jesus into his heart at an early age.
Wagner: I was saved when I was, I believe I was 12 years old. My grandparents had that kind of work ethic and religion and faith that kinda kept me on track.
Although naturally a right-hander, Billy made it to the majors as a lefty. As a kid, he broke his right arm – twice! So he taught himself to throw left handed and at the time, it really didn’t seem to be a big deal.
Wagner: When you’re 7, 8 years old and you’re a young kid, you want to play. You don’t care what you have to do to compete and play and be with the older kids. When I broke my right arm, I don’t remember it all that well, but obviously it wasn’t something where I sat around and said, “Oh well, poor me,” because I went right out and was playing .
Thirty years and seven major league all-star selections later, Billy’s glad he didn’t give up.
Shawn Brown: Because you didn’t have a fear, you went ahead and said, "I’ll just throw with my left hand." Look at what has happened.
Wagner: If people are drawn to Billy Wagner because of his story of being naturally a righty but throwing left handed and having a Christian background, then that’s what you want. God has given me a left arm that has given me a pedestal to be someone that can help better their selves in the faith. Being a Christian I’ve been able to sit there and say [that] this is a learning experience. I said some things when I was out on the mound, I acted in a way when I was out on the mound that is not what God had wanted, but being able to be forgiven and to repent shows that that’s what being a Christian is all about.
Brown: In your entire career, what has been the biggest thing that God has shown you?
Wagner: Baseball is just fantasy. It’s a short-lived life, and I have a long life with God. That’s most important, and if I take that for granted, everything that He has graced me with, He can take away.
Brown: How do you balance trying to be a man of God and staying competitive as well?
Wagner: God wants you to be competitive for Him too, so being competitive’s the easy part. It’s the balance of knowing who you are and what you want to be. Once I realized as an athlete what was important and what wasn’t, then, I think you’re able to sell out to God.
Brown: See that’s the thing that people don’t realize. You’re a real person with real struggles.
Wagner announced that this is his final season. Looking back, he’s grateful for his prolific career on the mound.
Wagner: I live a very blessed and graced life with what He’s blessed me to have. So when I think of my career I think solely of what God has given me and blessed me with, and know that retiring at the end of this season is a blessing, that I get to go home and live a second chapter that is blessed.
Brown: When people look at you on the field this last season, what legacy are you leaving behind?
Wagner: My biggest goal and what I want people to see in me is that I love the Lord and He’s the answer. He’s the way, and He’s the rock. All you have to do is lean on Him and know you don’t have to worry. He’s gonna give you that peace.
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