Perhaps more than any other sport, Major League Baseball often becomes a family business. It’s not unusual for sons to follow in the footsteps of Major League dads or for brothers to pursue similar dreams on the diamond. What is rare, however, is for those Big League dreams to be realized by all of the sons in one family. The story of the three Drew boys from Hahira, Ga., is one of baseball’s current legends in the making. J.D., Tim and Stephen, who grew up playing front-yard baseball games in southern Georgia, all pursued that risky career path of baseball. And all three made it.
Two of them, in fact, very nearly met each other in the Major League postseason last year as both Stephen’s Arizona Diamondbacks and J.D.’s Boston Red Sox reached their respective NL and AL Championship Series before the D-backs were eliminated by the Colorado Rockies.
Even though Tim, a former big league pitcher, is currently rehabbing in the independent Atlantic League, all three Drew boys have spent significant time in the Major League spotlight. And the massive microscope under which they live has taught each of them a great deal about each other, about life and about the Savior for which they do it all.
That’s right. The most influential characteristic shared by these men has little to do with baseball and everything to do with Jesus Christ. Raised in a strong Christian home, each Drew has submitted his life to the Lord and is pursuing baseball as an act of worship and obedience to Him.
To gear up for the final weeks of the MLB regular season (just in case the Red Sox or D-Backs make another run at the title), STV spent time getting to know the famous Drew boys. We put together a handy A-to-Z Guide to help you do the same.
A is for Average. J.D. has a stellar batting average this season with the Red Sox.
B is for Blessed. Says Tim: “Our family’s been blessed. We try to represent Christ the best that we can, and we have our flaws just like anybody else, but I truly believe that God has used my family in the game and for that very purpose. I hope that He continues to be glorified through all that we go through.”
C is for Commitment—a trait that J.D. learned from his younger brothers. Says the Red Sox star: “Just seeing how strong they are and how they walk in their faith. I see how they handle their lives, and that is ultimately something I benefit from. And that’s also what I’ve tried to instill in them—just to say, ‘Hey, you are going to go through your ups and downs, but don’t question your faith and don’t question God.’ People are going to have their ups and downs, but stay in the Bible and study. And I see that in them.”
Boston Red Sox
Position: Right Field
Born: Nov. 20, 1975
Weight: 200 lbs.
Born: Aug. 31, 1978
Weight: 195 lbs.
Born: March 16, 1983
Weight: 185 lbs.
D is for David Jonathan, J.D.’s full name.
E is for Example. J.D. set a positive one for his brothers. Says Tim: “We grew up watching J.D. I think that is how it is in most families. He was the older child of the family, so obviously Stephen and I followed in his footsteps. We watched his every move. Based on that, I really try to iterate to the younger people that there is always somebody watching you. We always watched J.D. and how he lived. Watching him making the right decisions throughout high school and college really impacted my life, and I think Stephen would say the same.”
F is for Florida State University, where both J.D. and Stephen played college baseball.
G is for Going Yard. Last fall, J.D. and Stephen became only the third set of brothers to hit home runs in the same postseason.
H is for Hahira, the boys’ hometown in southern Georgia.
I is for Independent. The Atlantic League hosts Tim’s Bridgeport Bluefish.
J is for Judgmental. Stephen’s advice to Christian student-athletes is to be a good listener and avoid judging others. “In this game there are a lot of people with different backgrounds,” he says. “They might be a young Christian; they might be a non-believer who will come around. Maybe God’s really speaking into their heart. But in those situations where you see him doing wrong, don’t go over there with his friends and confront him. At the end of the day, get him alone and talk to him. Just don’t be judgmental; be a great listener. Listen before you speak. Everybody can speak, but it’s hard to listen.”
K is for Ks. As a pitcher, Tim is able to tally these on the scoreboard.
L is for Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Ga., from which all three Drews graduated.
M is for Mindset. J.D.’s best advice for young athletes is to keep their minds focused on what’s important. “Stay firm in our faith,” he says, “because God is going to be the one thing that is true, and true forever. Baseball is going to leave me. The world is going to be gone one day. But I know that if I set my eternal goals in Heaven, that’s where things are going to pay off.”
N is for No. 1. According to Tim, Christ should hold that place in our lives. “The biggest thing is to stay focused on Christ and the task at hand,” he says. “Realize that you are playing for Christ and Christ alone. I know that’s a cliché you hear from a lot of Christian athletes, but remember Colossians 3:23 (NIV), which says, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.’ I totally believe that needs to be our number-one focus: to glorify God and play for Him alone. Just really stress that and then let Christ use you where you’re at.”
O is for Open Doors. According to Stephen, J.D.’s success opened doors for him and Tim that helped them reach the highest level of play. “When I was younger, I realized that it was great that J.D. led the way,” he says. “Because he was the oldest brother and was talented, people would come watch us. Everybody wants to play a sport when they grow up, but you kind of find your talent out as you grow in life. I knew I had a special talent God had given me, and so did J.D. and Tim. We still had to prove ourselves, and it was tough sometimes, but it was great.”
P is for Psalm 119:165 (NIV): “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” According to Tim, this verse means a great deal to him. “You learn over time that God is truly sovereign—either He is God or He’s not,” he says. “I truly believe that He is God, and He knows what’s right for my life. Obviously He’s seen fit to put me right here in the Atlantic League to go through all these things for a purpose. “We have a choice. I can choose my attitude every day. I could get up and be angry, or I could wake up knowing that God is sovereign and He’s in control and He has a plan for my life and that plan is great. And I truly believe that is where true contentment comes from—that God is in control and He sees all and knows all. So, I rest in that, and in that resting place I find great peace.”
Q is for Quadruple Honors. J.D. won four national awards in 1997 as a college senior: the Dick Howser Trophy, the Golden Spikes Award, Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year and The Sporting News Player of the Year.
R is for Romans 10:9 (NIV). Both J.D. and Stephen cite this as their favorite Bible verse. It says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
S is for Sibling Rivalry. Says J.D.: “We fought like siblings and had that kind of rivalry, but it was good, because ultimately our lives were going in the right direction.”
T is for Trust. Tim is currently trusting God’s plan for his life. “I think people are waiting to see how I am going to respond because J.D. and Stephen have been able to excel in being able to stay in the big leagues. But I look at it as God giving me the chance to be able to persevere. I am thankful to have two brothers who love the Lord and are such an encouragement to one another, but I just praise God that I have a Savior who loves me and knows what’s right for me. And I am content because I know that I’m doing everything I can. “Even in my injury right now, being at 85 percent coming back from shoulder surgery, I’m just here to glorify Him and have a good time regardless of if I make it back to the big leagues or not. You take that into account and realize that life is so short here on Earth, and we have something greater to look forward to. And that’s my hope. As long as I can be a light here, I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. And when you are in God’s will, there’s no greater place to be.”
U is for Understanding. Having the same profession, the boys all can identify with each other. Says Stephen: “In this game, you can get caught up in life here at this level, and it’s really nice to have two older brothers who have gone through it and understand.”
V is for Vikings, the boys’ mascot at Lowndes High School.
W is for World Series, which J.D. and the Boston Red Sox won in 2007.
X is for X-pectations. Stephen learned how to handle expectations by growing up behind successful older brothers. This lesson helps him handle life on the field today. “There are expectations every time you step up to the plate,” he says, “and 70 percent of the time you’re failing. Going 1-3 for the day and batting .333 is still succeeding. It puts it in perspective because when you sit back and read the Word, it helps you not get caught up in baseball. It’s a game. It’s a job, but it’s still a game. And I try to leave it on the field. You play hard, and when the day is done, you go home and you have a family.”
Y is for Years. The time Tim has spent rehabbing from injury has been some of the most fruitful in his spiritual life. “The last few years going through my surgery, I’ve gotten to see many teammates come to Christ,” he says. “Not because of anything I’ve done—God gets all the glory for that—but just being able to be a part of these teams and seeing guys come to Christ. If I wouldn’t have gone through my surgery or bounced around to these places, I wouldn’t have been a part of that. When you experience that, you start to realize that God has a greater purpose than just baseball.”
Z is for AriZona, Stephen’s current team. (We’re asking for a break on this one. Z is harsh!)
All three brothers have had some involvement with FCA, whether speaking at ministry events or being impacted by FCA staff. Thus, all three believe that it is a powerful and necessary vehicle when impacting the athletic community for Christ.
“I think it’s great, especially in those certain environments where there isn’t a lot of access for students to get involved in something that’s faith-oriented,” J.D. said. “It’s hugely important to have those kinds of friends that you can hang out with because there are so many different choices out there. I know I could have gone down a different road in high school had I chosen to go with a different crowd.”
Stephen, who spoke at an FCA event in Phoenix last season, also takes a strong stance on the importance of standing out for his faith. “That’s what Jesus did,” he said. “Jesus didn’t just kick back and relax. He went out and witnessed and fellowshipped with non-believers. So, I think it’s huge for me to go out there and share my faith. By no means am I perfect, but I try to lead by example.”
--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.
Photos courtesy of Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox, Nick Razzette/Bridgeport Bluefish, Jonathan Willey/Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox.