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Confessions of a Baseball Junkie

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Tom Buehring - 700 Club Producer

Aubrey Huff had it all. At least so it seemed. But a curveball of circumstances before and during his Major League career kept the left-handed hitter, seemingly left at a loss, after accumulating “a great house, made millions of dollars in baseball, had the beautiful wife, healthy kids.  Two World Series rings! Everything you could ever want, but I was still miserable. For me growing up without a father, I was so insecure inside.”

Aubrey lost his dad when he was six. He remembers, “My mom comes walking in from Winn Dixie, she’s crying. She walks up to me, telling my father’s no longer coming home, that he was tragically murdered in Abilene, Texas by a lunatic madman with a gun! I was six years old and fatherless. I think looking back on it now in a lot of ways, baseball became my father.”

What did baseball provide him with? Aubrey answers, “An escape!”

His escape became an odyssey of 13 seasons with five different teams, half spent with Tampa Bay where his career began. Aubrey recalls, “It was a lot of losing. I was having great seasons in Tampa. I was team MVP a couple years there. Was just sick of finishing in last place. That love that I started—that I had as a kid, slowly started to dwindle and that was starting to be a concern for me.”    

Aubrey moved on, signing his first free agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles.  Despite his on-field success, his restlessness only grew, infringing on his pre-game approach one day inside the clubhouse. Aubrey describes the moment, “We got a game in an hour. And I did not want to be there. I was tired of baseball and a teammate walked in and said ‘hey man, looks like you’re struggling’. Comes back with a little orange and white pill. Without hesitation I popped it. Within 20 minutes it’s a euphoric feeling I couldn’t even explain. I couldn’t wait to get my spikes on, my uniform on, and hit the field. It was in that moment that I knew I was never going to play baseball without this stuff. On Adderall, I felt like a kid when you’re 8 years old playing Little League.”   

How did the Adderall improve his game?”  Aubrey explains, “Baseball’s a game of mental toughness, right. And, you know, in a lot of ways I think Adderall’s even more potent than steroids or HGH because in baseball you need to be mentally strong. And what Adderall does, is it makes you feel invincible in your head. You’re no longer afraid, you’re not nervous before a game. I was the cockiest, most brash, arrogant guy you could ever imagine being around.”     

He soon realized he couldn’t get off it, Aubrey says, “I had every intention to quit it during the off-season. And I found myself in the offseason taking it the very first day. When I didn’t take it in the morning, I felt depressed, bored, anxious, and irritable.  It made me a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It turned me into somebody I hated.”   

In 2010, Aubrey signed with the San Francisco Giants, finishing the season 7th in MVP voting, leading the team to their first World Series Championship in 56 years. It became his first of two Championship titles with the Giants.  Just months after the 2010 championship and with his marriage suffering, Aubrey entered Alcohol and Drug treatment. But his Adderall addiction continued during the next season. His wife Bobby filed for divorce. Alone, Aubrey cried out for help! Aubrey recalls, “I remember getting on my knees and praying, crying to God, I got to get off this stuff, Lord, please Jesus, I need you. I cannot do this anymore. I take the pills I dump them down the toilet at 4:00 in the morning and flush them. And I woke up the next morning. I thought for sure I’d want a pill. I didn’t want one. The next day I didn’t want one. From that moment on, I never had a craving to take another Adderall in my life.”

Aubrey hasn’t taken Adderall since! How does it explain it? He answers,
“How do you? You don’t. That’s a God thing. 100%.”    

Without Adderall masking Aubrey’s insecurities, a growing anxiety emerged. Aubrey says, “I always thought that people that had panic attacks were mentally weak people. That can’t handle the real world. And I’m like no, not me. Sure enough, I go to the doctor and that’s what I was diagnosed with. The consistency of it and the strength of it got worse once I retired out of 2012. And not only the transition out of baseball but the panic attacks that I had to deal with the transition was suicidal.”  

And he nearly played that out! Aubrey describes the occasion,  “I did. Went to my closet. I open up my safe, I grab my .357 Magnum and I hit my knees and I pointed it right at my head. Looked in this full mirror and all of a sudden I pull the hammer back. And it got real. All’s I have to do is pull the trigger. And I realized my dad was murdered with this same caliber weapon. And I’m like wow -- put it down! I started crying to God. You were supposed to be here with me. I thought you were in my life. And this thought came to me. He’s like ‘Aubrey, if you want my perfect peace, you have to give up control and have faith in me’. And it was that day where I realized I’ve got to start living for Him. Not just pretending!”

How does Aubrey surrender control? He explains, “For a professional athlete, you’re taught to put on this warrior mentality, to not let the other team see any sign of weakness, right. And it’s hard to take that guy on the field for all those years and to transition that into real life. I think a lot of my anxiety stemmed from that.  How do you give up control? I’m still learning how to do it! To give up control is more about just being at peace with where you are. I read some Scripture until something resonates with me and I try to apply that in my life every day.”

Aubrey’s marriage has been restored. His perspective is grounded in the source of his restoration. While painting collectable superhero-baseball paintings for fund-raisers, Aubrey’s also authored a book - Baseball Junkie - to encourage those battling anxiety and depression.  Aubrey believes, “God had to break me down to build me back up. Now, I knew I never really needed an earthly father.  I had one the whole time, My heavenly Father.”   

Who is Jesus Christ to Aubrey Huff? Aubrey responds, “He’s everything. He’s my Lord, my Savior. I mean, thank you so much for dying on the cross for me. How could You ever forgive a guy like me?  I struggled with that free gift of grace and forgiveness. And so for Him to give that love back, that grace, that mercy, that to me is Jesus Christ.”  

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