Baseball in His Blood: EDGAR GONZALEZ
His father played on the Mexican national baseball team and his brother plays for the Boston Red Sox, so it seems logical that Edgar Gonzalez would be destined to become a professional player himself. As this Chicago Cub infielder talks with Risen at the family’s Gonzalez Sports Academy in Chula Vista, California, he shares just how this sport brought him closer to God and how he’s using his talents to help other athletes understand how faith can play the most important role in their career.
Risen Magazine: Between your father and younger
brother Adrian, in the majors, is there any rivalry?
Edgar Gonzalez: My dad put my brother and me in baseball. My brother and I support each other. We love each other. Adrian was actually happier when I made it to the big leagues than when he made it. I was happier when he made it. We look after each other. I’m older than him and he’s always looking after me. There’s no rivalry whatsoever, except when we were younger playing whiffle ball in our backyard. Other than that, it’s support.
RM: How has the culture of professional baseball changed and in what ways were you maturing?
EG: For baseball teams, you go to a field and you do your game. You have some time before the game and that’s probably how I started getting closer to God. I was getting closer to Jesus Christ because there’s so much time to think about everything. After some games they [other team members] would have Bible studies too, so I would go. I grew up Catholic and right now, you can say that I’m a Christian… I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
I had always considered myself a follower of Christ, but not until I went to Japan in 2010, did I mature the most. I couldn’t even understand the TV, so I [took the time] to sit down and read. When I started reading, that’s when Jesus started really working on my heart more. It’s more important to me how much a person reads and really gets into the Word [Bible] because when you don’t, it’s harder to feel God’s love. That’s the way he talks to you. Going through the ups and downs of baseball struggles is what gets me closer actually. I know those times are ultimately in God’s plans. Every single time I struggle with something, I go to him and pray.
RM: God has taught you a lot through baseball, but you probably didn’t think that would be with a fastball to the head?!
EG: [Laughs] I always tell the story that I would pray. I wasn’t very strong in my faith at that point, but I prayed, “God help me get to the major leagues. You do whatever you want for my life.” Looking back, it was the wrong prayer. But he gave me the major leagues, and once I got there, I got too complacent. I wasn’t doing my part of talking to him and spreading his word.
I got hit in the head by a fastball, and then as soon as I came back I separated my shoulder. It was an injury-riddled year and I think at the end of the day, I sat down and said, “Whoa. What’s going on with this year?” Actually at the end, something good came out of it because I started getting close to God. Even though it was a tough time for me personally, I don’t think that’s what really matters to God. What matters to God is how much closer you get to Him. It was a good thing for me. I didn’t think that when I was going through it, but I do now.
RM: When spending time with youth, like at this Superfest event, do you think of yourself as a role model and how your experiences can influence others?
EG: I don’t really consider myself a role model because I just try to help any kid that wants to be helped. That’s why we started our program here at Gonzalez Sports Academy, because I wanted to try to give kids the same opportunity that I had when I was young.
I’m also trying to implement Bible studies here every other Friday with different athletes. The reason is to show that it doesn’t matter what sport you are in. A lot of times people may think that [their] sport is completely different… [their] sport doesn’t relate to God. So they go to church and think that’s where they can relate. But I do it in my daily life – right before a game, right after a game, during a game. God is in your life and in your job. I want to show that every athlete needs God in their sport too, and faith and sports do mix.
RM: Is there any practical advice you can give to today’s youth or a motto you live by?
EG: Trusting God is more important than anything. If it wasn’t for my trust, I don’t know how I could handle the situations I’ve been in. I also always live by hard work; hard work and trust.
I don’t think I’m a champion just because I play a sport. I think I’m a champion because I have God in my life. Athletes are just like everybody else. We go through the same things and I want people to understand that everyone can be a champion because they have faith in God.
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