Travis Fryman Speaks Out

Third baseman, Cleveland Indians; Five-time American League All-Star; Has three 100-plus RBI seasons; 2000 led major league third basemen in fielding (.978)
by Andy Call

Travis Fryman

I grew up in a Christian home with strong Christian parents and grandparents, so I was blessed to have that legacy. I asked Christ into my life when I was 7 years old.

There was a woman in our neighborhood where I grew up (Pensacola, Florida) named Ann Walker, who led a "backyard Bible study" once a week. We call her "Miss Ann." All I knew was that I wanted to go to heaven and not to hell, and that accepting Jesus Christ was the only way to be sure of that. So that's what I did, and that's all the understanding of spiritual things I had.

From the time I was little, everything I did revolved around baseball. Every thought I had, every action I took consumed by my passion to succeed at baseball.

As a pro baseball player, I wasn't a wild-living guy. I wasn't a boozer, and I wasn't a womanizer. But I was known for my intensity?and for my temper. If I struck out, my teammates tended to drift to the opposite end of the dugout.

It wasn't until 1994 (when Major League Baseball players went on strike) that I really took time to reflect on God. When I did, I knew I had missed something.

At that point, I had been an All-Star three times. I had a beautiful wife. I had the best job in the world. And I was miserable with my life. I was having a tug-of-war with God, and I was losing.

I had the Spirit of God living within me, but I was wrestling with that Spirit.

My wife, Kathleen, had gotten saved a year earlier. She was led to Christ by Cathy Tanana, wife of Detroit pitcher Frank Tanana, accepting Christ while in the parking lot of Tiger Stadium. God used the changes in Kathleen's life to convict me of the changes I needed to make in mine

I knew I had been saved when I was 7. The conviction of the Holy Spirit in my heart all those years was evidence of that. But I didn't know what it meant to fully surrender my life. The salvation I received as a child was genuine. But as an adult, there had to be a point of understanding what that means. I decided I was sick of fighting God. During the winter of 1994 I recommitted my life to Christ.

God dealt with me on a lot of issues, including self-control, especially with my temper. Guys on my team noticed the change, which provided an opportunity for me to witness. I see now that my responsibility is to make an invisible God visible to them through my actions.

I try to have an attitude of gentleness and respect for all my teammates. It's amazing how many times guys have come to me with questions, with needs, with prayer requests. I try to make an investment of time in each of them.

Sometimes, after that, there will come a day when I challenge them to make a decision. I will tell you what I tell them.

You need to decide whether you are going to live your way, on your terms, or God's way, on His terms. You need to make a decision as to who you think Jesus Christ is. Is He the Son of God who died to take the punishment for your sins and rose again to prove His power? Or was He just a good man who died, and that's it? It's the biggest decision of your life. It's the one that counts.

Taken from Sports Spectrum, a Christian sports magazine. Used by permission. For subscription information call 1-800-283-8333.

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