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CBN.com When Detroit Tigers pitcher Mike Maroth is not on the field, you’ll most likely find him with his wife, Brooke, playing with their son, Nolan.
However, his 2003 season with the Tigers was anything but fun -- unless you were the opposition. Detroit finished 47 games out of first place.
“With a team that only won 43 games, winning nine games is not too bad,” says Mike.
Mike’s nine victories… best on the team. That’s just a footnote in what was a horrible season for Detroit.
“I don’t know how I would have handled it without Christ in my life. When guys go through struggles, some break down. I really don’t know how I would have handled it. My focus was spending time in the Word.”
The Word of God was Mike’s encouragement in a season full of disappointment.
“I knew that God knew how much He could put on my plate, and I would be able to handle. So I knew He wasn’t going to take me overboard.”
A 20-loss season is a rarity in baseball. It last happened in 1980. So the media attention increased as Mike crept up on the 20-loss mark.
“They were just asking, ‘How are you doing this?’ They were asking more about my character and the way I was carrying myself."
It was the open door for Mike to speak about his source of strength.
“When somebody’s doing good, it’s easy. But when somebody’s facing struggles or challenges, you really get to find out what they’re made of. People watched me, wanting to see how I was going to react. Most of my teammates knew I was a Christian. They wanted to see how I’d handle it.”
In getting off to a rough start, Mike clung to his faith in God.
“I have [this] thing that I do before games. I’ll run out to center field and pray -- just allow my focus to be where it needs to be; know that I want God to be glorified and not me. In between every inning, I’ll step back off the mound and draw a little cross in the back of the mound. It gives me the confidence to make every pitch knowing that if I do everything I can, God’s going to take care of the rest.”
As a child, Mike fell in love with baseball right away, but his love for God was not as immediate.
“I was one of those guys that anytime somebody brought up the Bible or Jesus, I wanted to just turn around or go hide in a corner because I didn’t know anything about it. I felt like I was alone, like I was the only one out there that didn’t know anything about the Bible.”
But while playing in the minor leagues, a teammate spoke to Mike about having a true “relationship” with Christ.
“After I came out of a game one time on the road, and I had pitched well, something wasn’t right. I felt really down. I went to the locker room. We started talking and that’s where I ended up, right there in the locker room, prayed with him and prayed to receive Christ.”
Mike's heart was changed forever. That personal relationship with the Lord helped him through that record-breaking season and prepared him for the future.
“I think everybody comes to a point where they’re searching and have a lot of questions that need to be answered. God supplied the answers in the Bible, and He sent His Son here. It brings so much joy. A lot of people feel that being a Christian straps you down, you don’t have any freedom, but people don’t realize that it’s really the opposite. Having a relationship with Christ gives you freedom over everything in this world.”
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