Colorado Rockies infielder Jamey Carroll is no longer getting caught up in the game, he’s just playing ball.
By Jill Ewert
He was lying and he knew it. When the friendly stranger in the parking lot of what was then RiverSide Stadium in Harrisburg, Pa., had asked Jamey Carroll how he was doing, Carroll had told the man that things were going “great.” But deep down, he knew life was anything but great. Jamey Carroll was miserable.
Birthplace: Evansville, Ind.
Weight: 170 lbs.
College: University of Evansville
MLB Debut: 9/01/2002
• Was a college All-American in 1996
• Married wife, Kim, in 2004
• Younger brother, Wes, played in the Washington Nationals minor league system
So, when he walked into the minor league clubhouse and a teammate announced that chapel was starting, he decided to give it a shot. What did he have to lose? He made his way to the dugout for chapel and was surprised to see the gentleman from the parking lot getting ready to give the message. Already having come to appreciate him after their parking-lot conversation, Carroll listened closely to what he had to say. As a result, he gave his life to Jesus Christ that afternoon.
Now seven years after receiving Christ and five years after graduating to the big leagues, the Colorado Rockies infielder has matured in his faith just as he has matured in his game.
Check out what Carroll told STV about handling pressure, living in the moment and having “nothing to lose.”
STV: Being a ballplayer already, how did accepting Christ change the way you approached the game?
JC: I think it made me understand that God is in control. In this game a lot of things are thrown at you. There’s a lot of pressure to succeed, and when you try to control that on your own, you just make it tougher on yourself. And as you grow, you play to glorify Him. You use the abilities that He’s given you to play for Him.
I try to look at it like He’s the only Fan in the stands. He’s given me the opportunity, so hopefully when I go out there it’s to play as hard as I can, and people can see Christ through me when I’m on the field.
STV: You mentioned giving glory to God. FCA’s camp theme this summer is “For the Glory.” Is it difficult to give glory to God when you’re at this level?
JC: Yeah, I think so. It’s a battle. You’re sitting there every day knowing that you’re at a certain level, and you can get caught up in the fact that you want to stay there and to be a part of this. But you have to ask, “Is this who I really am? Does my name equal baseball?” Because the next thing you know you can get so caught up in it that you forget why you’re really playing baseball. God has given you that opportunity. So you have to slow down and take it moment by moment instead of just blowing by and getting caught up in the game.
STV: When reading your stats, it seems that some of your most impressive numbers are posted in high-pressure situations. For instance, last season your batting average was better when there were runners in scoring position and two outs. How do you handle pressure, and how does your faith play a role in that?
JC: Basically, I realize that I have nothing to lose. It’s just an at bat. I heard something this year that I wish I would have heard last year. David Collins, our first base coach, told us that when he’d go to the plate he’d say, “God loves me. My family loves me. And it’s just an at bat.” So, it helps to have the mindset of just living in the moment.
I don’t know if I had that philosophy last year, but I just enjoyed the challenge. It made me focus a little more. And now learning that, I want to put it into every aspect of the game and just know that what’s going to happen is going to happen.
Everything happens for a reason, and you get what you can out of it. If you come through then you come through, but no matter what, I’m going to sit back and learn what I should have learned from that situation and try to take it into the next one.
“But you have to ask, ‘is this who I really am? Does my name equal baseball?’”
STV: How do you get ready for those moments? What does it take for you to feel completely game ready—physically, mentally and spiritually?
JC: As a utility player and playing all different positions—being ready for me physically means going out and getting my work in at every spot so that I know when I get in any situation at second or third or wherever, I’m ready for it. And in batting practice I try to work on little things like bunting, hitting, running and moving the runners, so that if I have a pinch hitting opportunity in a game, I’m prepared for that both physically and mentally.
And then being a Christian I know if it didn’t go well that day or if things were a struggle on the field, I have the faith to know that if I’m working hard I’m going to be able to handle whatever He’s going to lay upon me. He won’t give me a situation I can’t handle.
And once it’s all over, it’s just trying to let everything go and know that God is in my corner. I’ve prepared what I can, now let’s just go out and play ball.
STV: What are some of the challenges you face in getting to that point?
JC: I think it’s just the pressure. If you haven’t been playing well, you know that there are guys in the minor leagues who are ready to come up and take your job. You start getting caught up in where you’re at and where you want to stay.
Or maybe the team is struggling, the press is on you, and it’s a frustrating atmosphere. Some of those things cause you to get caught up. You start pushing yourself a little harder. You try to do too much, or you get so frustrated that you don’t do enough. And you can even get caught up in being prepared and in not trusting yourself and your beliefs and abilities. It can all happen very quickly.
STV: Is there a particular verse in the Bible that helps you in those times?
“Basically, I realize that I have nothing to lose…God loves me. My family loves me. And it’s just an at bat.”
JC: I think it’s one a lot of people have, but the one that comes to the top of my head is Philippians 4:13. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Or Joshua 1:9, which talks about not being afraid or having any fear because He’s with you wherever you go. Those are the ones that I can easily run through my head at any time. If it’s in a pinch-hit situation or a crucial part of the game—hey, you know, have no fear. You’ve done your stuff, He’s in your corner, now go out and play.
*For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com