Infield Shift

By Davin Gulbransen

In one short year the Atlanta Braves rose from being one of the worst teams in baseball to being nearly the best.
In the 1980s, the Edmonton Oilers were the most feared team in the NHL. The Oilers of the '90s have gone a team record 4 years without making the playoffs.

In the NBA, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls are one of the perennial powerhouses. Five years from now, will the same players be there? Will they still be the awesome force that we watch today? Maybe. Maybe not.

What do all these teams from different sports have in common besides being champions at one point in time?

Change is one factor that makes sports so great. Nothing is predictable for certain. Evander Holyfield proved that the day he shocked the world by knocking out heavily favored Mike Tyson for the heavyweight championship of the world. Change in sports or life is a daily event.

One man who has seen a considerable change in his life is Cincinnati Reds infielder Terry Pendleton. As a part of the Braves in 1991, Terry saw a dramatic change on the baseball field when the worst-to-first Atlanta Braves played in the World Series.

For Pendleton, though, the biggest change early in his life resulted from getting out of the neighborhood in which he grew up. Kids growing up in South Central Los Angeles are likely to see a lot of things not meant for children?s eyes. Drugs, violence, and gangs were just as alive when he was a kid as they are today.

"I lived about a block from the Watts area where all the rioting went on, and I was around to see a lot of it at a young age," Pendleton says. "I remember starting school one year with the National Guard standing on each corner holding M-16s, and that was not a thrilling way to start kindergarten," Pendleton says.

Pendleton, of course, made it out of LA, and his life changed as he climbed the baseball ladder of success.
But in 1983, Terry saw an even greater change occur off the baseball field?one that would affect his entire life. "I met Rod Booker getting on the bus at 5:00 in the morning. We were leaving St. Petersburg, Florida, and spring training, to go play Double-A baseball in Little Rock, Arkansas. I had never met Rod before. Rod steps on this bus and walks down the aisle. When he spoke to me, I knew there was something about this man that I wanted to know and learn more about," Pendleton says. "I knew he was different from other guys on the bus."

As it would turn out, Terry and Rod moved into the same apartment complex in Little Rock?in fact, right next door to each other.

"Rod was able to spend a lot of time with me. I then found out what this man had that I didn't have. He had inner peace, and he knew the Lord. He knew the Lord big time," Pendleton explains. Terry and Rod became good friends as they proceeded through Double A, Triple A, and eventually the big leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals. After more than 7 years with the Cards, Terry was traded to the Atlanta Braves, where he was able to get to know and spend time with another strong Christian, Sid Bream.

"I first met Sid Bream when I was playing against him when he was a Dodger and I was a Cardinal. I got the chance to play winter ball with him in 1984, but I never really got to know Sid until we spent some years together in Atlanta," he says.

Although Terry had accepted Christ into his life in 1983, he had strayed away from Him. "I got away from Christ along the way with the way of the world and worldly things," he admits. "Ten years later, I had to really regroup and say to myself, "Wait a minute. What am I doing here? "And I think with that, I am definitely focusing on the right track."

Davin Gulbransen lives in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Huntington College in Indiana.