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The 700 Club

Major League Pitcher Cites Faith as Thread To a Fulfilled Life

Tom Buehring - 700 Club Producer

At center stage of the infield, the San Diego Padres Craig Stammen finds a rare perspective with a lasting pitch, saying, “To be able to challenge yourself out on the mound and be able to take on the best players in the world, you’re out to prove yourself, out to prove that you belong. Whatever happens on the baseball field it's not going to matter knowing that – Jesus says, ‘yes’ to you in heaven.”

The Padres middle-reliever and spot-starter shoulders a heavy load of innings as the team’s durable, effective and savvy 12-year-veteran. 

Question: “The one-pitch that’s served you well over the years?”

Craig: “It’s my sinker, my 2-seam fastball. When I get in a sticky situation, nine times out of ten that’s what I’m going to. Not necessarily always for the strikeout but I know it’s an effective pitch that I can locate! It gets a lot of outs for me. I’ve been blessed to be able to have a lot of movement; it just comes and tails and drops 5, 6 inches right at the last end and they usually beat it into the ground for a ground ball.”

Question: “Is it difficult for you to surrender the ball and release its results?”

Craig: "I think that’s the only way to pitch or to be sane while pitching! Really the only thing that I can control is - got the grip, got our mindset on throwing that pitch exactly where we want to at that time and we let it go! You’ve got to throw everyone like it’s the last out of the World Series.”

Question: “A performance-based business … where does your affirmation come from?”

Craig: “It’s a good question. You know I like having success on the mound.  I’m working hard to have that success. But I know the results aren’t determining whether or not I’m a beloved child of God. And so I think remembering that on a constant, daily basis, being strong in the Word and understanding the real truth gives you a whole lot more peace and joy when you’re out there being able to do something that God has blessed you to do.”

Question: “You come alongside young pitchers to help them mute that voice of doubt. What do you do to reaffirm that voice of belief?”

Craig: “Yeah. And it’s probably the hardest thing to do with baseball. We all think it's physical out there on the mound but most of it's in our head and to get rid of that doubt is basically how you find success, and knowing that you can trust the ability that you work on, on a daily basis. It’s fun to just go out there and use them and see if they’re good enough!”

Question: “What does a small-town Ohio guy like best about playing in San Diego?”

Craig: "It’s different, you know? And both worlds are the best! I can go back to Ohio and live in that small town and be in the middle of nowhere, have nothing but a cornfield in front of me.  Or I can come back to San Diego, get to play in the sunshine, the beach, anything at your disposal, play golf whenever you want! And be at this beautiful park – Petco Park! You realize the vast blessings this world provides!”

Question: “Your reputation is: the ultimate professional! In a clubhouse setting (Craig: “yeah”!), to be a leader there – what is it?”

Craig: “I think authenticity is the number one trait that I like to have within the clubhouse and my friends and family. I hope that’s who I was when I was 21, personality-wise, the same guy I am after so many seasons in the major leagues and – I am who I am! And I want to be authentic and that attribute has definitely helped me be a leader amongst my peers and help them feel more comfortable when they’re around me.”

Question: “What is it about Jesus Christ, Craig, that has impacted your life?”

Craig: “Ah, its, turned into my whole entire life! When you’re younger you think of it as an aspect of your life. And I think when I truly became a follower of Christ, is when it became a part of every part of my life. Anything that I did, do, will do, ever do, centers around Jesus and His unconditional love. The importance of how I grew up in the faith – Jesus being at the top of everything, a part of everything we did, how my parents raised me – has been the greatest gift I’ve ever been given!”
 
Question: “Your Twitter page includes 2 Timothy 1:7 …”

Craig: “God did not give us a spirit of fear … that verse I say to myself right before the inning starts on the mound. There’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of fear of failure that goes along with baseball. You know, Timothy, he was known to be timid and he had to be stronger in his faith to proclaim the good news to the new Christians at that time. And so my little piece of that is out there on the mound. I’ve got to have that faith and I know who my Savior is!”

 

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