Baseball, the Bible and Now Boston
While Adrian Gonzalez has spent the majority of his Major League Baseball career with the San Diego Padres, this year he’s traded the surf and sand for Fenway Park as he moved to Boston. While the winner of two Gold Glove Awards may be sporting a new Red Sox uniform, Gonzalez’ commitment of giving back to the community will continue to stay strong. He is the epitome of what it means to be a champion both on and off the field. This gifted athlete talks with Risen about his family, character and the faith that has guided him.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine at Superfest Sports Outreach in San Diego, California
Risen Magazine: You grew up in San Diego and played the majority of your career here, what were the things that gave you encouragement as you made the decision to go to Boston?
Adrian Gonzalez: I was traded to Boston and it is one of those things in the game of baseball where you don’t have a decision. It’s something that they tell you. You are traded and you’re on your way there. I really enjoyed my time in San Diego and I’m looking forward to my time in Boston…having a good atmosphere there and having a good time playing there.
RM: What type of adjustments will you make as you transition from National League to American League?
AG: Nowadays, with inter-league play it’s really hard to divide the leagues and say one league is different than the other. Most importantly for me is to study the pitchers and know whom I’m facing and try to do my best every day.
RM: What is one of your favorite memories of playing baseball alongside your brother Edgar Gonzalez.
AG: My favorite memory was watching his first hit in Chicago –which was his first at bat as a Padre. We also had a game where we both homered on
the same day in the same game. That was pretty fun. Those are memories that I will never forget.
RM: How has your brother and your family supported your career?
AG: They have always been a great support. They have always been there for us. From the time we were little, my parents always took us to our practices. They made sure that we not only got that workout, but other workouts. We were always trying to get better and learning how to get better. They have been a great support our entire careers.
RM: You’ve become a leader on and off the field, what principles do you hope to bring with you to Boston?
AG: Work ethic. I think the most important thing is that people need to learn how to work hard and work harder than everybody else. Don’t just settle for what you have to do, but do more. That will bring leadership in itself. The thing I am looking forward to the most is being able to talk about the Lord and share about my relationship with Christ.
RM: Speaking of your relationship with God…when did you become a Christian?
AG: In 2003, after I was married about a month and a half. It was because my wife and I started hanging out with Christian couples and they showed us how to live a Christian life and live by faith and have a relationship with Christ. From that moment on, we knew that is what we wanted in our lives. I made the decision to give my life to Christ.
RM: How has your faith impacted your career?
AG: It’s changed it. Now it’s not about having a great game on the field, it is how my relationship with Christ is after the game. It’s how I react to certain things…who I glorify and give credit to after the games. It completely changes your perspective.
RM: What has been the biggest challenge in your relationship with God?
AG: I would say our [Betsy and my] biggest challenge is infertility. We have been trying to have kids for a long time and haven’t been able to. The best way to combat that is to have faith and know that if it’s His [God’s] will, He is going to give us a kid. If we are not meant to have a kid, we can always adopt and have a family that way. [Our challenge is] to stay strong and know that He is doing it for our best interest.
The thing I am looking forward to the most is being able to talk about the Lord and share about my relationship with Christ.
RM: It seems like you have an amazing relationship with your wife…how does Betsy support your career? Is she more of a cheerleader or a coach?
AG: She is more of an assistant coach. She was more of a cheerleader when we first got married. But I didn’t want the pity. When I had a bad game, I didn’t want her to say, “That’s okay, you’re going to be alright.” She turned more into an assistant coach and now she says, “You’ve got to do better. You’ve got to put the work in. You’ve got to pick it up.” She is an incredible person. She is most of the reason for why I am where I am at today.
RM: I love it! How do you and Betsy keep your marriage strong, especially in a world where athletes are being characterized for their infidelity?
AG: We are always living for the Lord. Everything we do is based on what we learn from the Bible and through Bible teachings. Respect and honor. We’ve got to love each other. For me, I have to love her like Christ loved the church. And she is going to take that love and affection and send it back towards me. We look towards Christ to make each other happy, not each other. We try to live as holy as we can each and every day.
RM: How do you and your teammates hold each other accountable?
AG: We have a number of things that we do together. [We have] chapel on Sundays and Bible studies during the week when we are at home. We also do Bible studies on the road, get together and try to spread the word. We have fellowship and let each other know what our struggles and strengths are and try and be there for each other.
RM: What would you say is the main character quality athletes need to have in order to make it today?
AG: There’s a few…perseverance is one. You can’t give up. You can’t let anything get in your way. You can’t get down on one little thing that goes wrong in your life or something that takes you a step back. [Second] You’ve got to keep pushing forward always and [third] you’ve got to be able to work hard each and every day and dedicate yourself. Those are three qualities that I think are very important.
RM: If you were talking to a little league or high school team, what would you tell them is the single thing that stops them from progressing to the next level?
AG: If it is a high school or college person, I would say you have to get good grades and do well in school. [I’d tell them] if you let something get in your way, you are going to hit that roadblock. The most important thing is to always do your work. Always put in that extra work in the classroom and out of the classroom, just like on and off the field.
RM: You speak to kids and athletes about the importance of being a champion on and off the field so what is it that motivates you to give back to the community?
AG: [Jesus] Christ says that we have to be servants and disciples for him and do what we can; for me that is my motivation. I want to do as much as I can for God’s kingdom. I need to do my part and teach what I know, which is baseball…and share what I live and experience, which is my relationship with Christ.
RM: Looking back on your career, was there a defining moment or decision that you can recognize had you made a different choice, you wouldn’t be here today?
AG: I wouldn’t say a defining moment. Each day, you have to make decisions. Each decision can take you in a different way. My relationship with Christ allows me to feel comfortable with the decisions I make every day. I know that if I am making that decision from prayer, or what I am learning from the Bible, then I know that decision is going to be a good one.