When it comes to professional baseball player,
Jay Bell stands bases apart from the rest.
For starters, hes the 11th batter in
the history of the game to hit a home run on his first major league pitch, which he did in
1986 with Cleveland. Then last year, Jay set two career bests, belting 21 home runs and 92
RBIs for Kansas Citymore than any other shortstop in Royals history. Setting those
lofty records earned him the title of K.C.s Player of the Year.
The 32-year-old slugger made sports headlines again when he signed a five-year, $34-
million contract last November with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-Backs are one of this
years two expansion teams in the major leagues. While excitement builds among fans,
many baseball insiders dont expect a stellar season from Arizona or the other
newcomer, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
This raises an obvious question: Since Jays nearing the end of his careerand
has never been to the World Serieswhy would he risk playing for an organization that
many say is a long shot? Whats more, how did his faith play into his decision?
I Caught up with Jay at spring training and got his angle on growing pains, giving your
all and going to God for everything.
How does it feel being part of a brand-new team this year?
Jay: Its interesting because weve got a bunch of guys here from different
organizations, so everyones used to doing things differently. Whats terrific
is that Buck Showalter (Diamondbacks manager) is a great man of baseball. He
understands exactly what he wants from his players and expects us to comply with his
How did your faith in Christ play a role in your decision to play for Arizona?
After the 1997 season, my wife and I had prayed about what we were going to do in the
future, especially how long I would end up playing. We felt that a five-year plan would be
best for us. The free-agent system is terrific, but I was uncomfortable with the process
of teams bidding for me.
Jerry Colangelo (owner of the Diamondbacks) contacted me before anybody else had
mentioned anything about a contract and offered me one that was outstanding. My wife and I
prayed about it and asked the opinion of some trusted Christian friends. Later, when I was
flying out to Arizona to sign, I was still a little unsure, so I prayed that I would get
confirmation in making the right decision.
Verification came when I met Jerry in person and learned he had a strong desire to
speak out for Christ, and that he was looking to build a team of players full of
Speaking of faith, tell us how you came to Christ?
I accepted Jesus at an outreach concert at my church when I was 12. A band played music,
and then a speaker presented the gospel. I had heard this message before but hadnt
really paid attention to it. I knew I hadnt accepted Christ into my life, even
though I had a clear understanding of who He was. Today I know Im still a sinner and
that I fall short, but I have the knowledge that Ive been forgiven.
What was the greatest struggle you faced as a teenager?
Being selfish and not thinking of others. Most young people have the desire to do great
things and to make an impact in whatever they do. The problem comes when they try to do
everything by themselves and dont let God orchestrate things. I guess what Ive
learned is that God is in control, and I need to pray through all decisions.
Whats your strategy on sharing your faith?
Actions speak louder than words most of the time. You need to gain favor through people
seeing how you react to things. Once you gain that favor, you can take action. God has put
each of us in a situation to share His love. It may be to one or 1 million, but you can
influence someone. I try not to do it on my own, but to let Gods Spirit use me in
the best way possible.
What goals do you have as an athlete?
Its every players goal to reach the World Series, and its very important
to me, so I strive for it. At the same time I realize that whether I perform well or not,
or my team performs well or not, I have to be consistent in sharing the gospel. My primary
objective is being true to what God has given me, and hopefully He will find me faithful.
What advice would you give to a teen guy?
Hard work pays off, so in whatever you do, do it with determination. Spiritually, allow
God to use you in the way He desires. Dont step in and try to do Gods job.
Acknowledge that He is your boss and Hes going to control you if you let Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says it all: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on
your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths