Cardinals glorify God at Christian Family Day
By Allen Palmeri
July 26, 2005
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Cardinals superstar first baseman Albert Pujols summed up what the 15th annual Christian Family Day (CFD) is all about when he told thousands of fans after the July 16 game at Busch Stadium why he, as a Christian ballplayer, enjoys being part of the event.
“Open your heart and your eyes today and just give your life to Him, because that’s the best thing that happened in my life,” said Pujols, who had two hits and a run scored in the Cardinals’ 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros that day before a sellout crowd of 48,034.
Later on, Pujols stood beside his wife, Deidre, as she gave the invitation. Deidre Pujols spoke about the need to trust God with every little detail in life, including the condition of one’s soul.
“What are you dealing with in your life that God cannot change, heal, fix or put back together?” Deidre Pujols asked.
“My daughter, Isabella, was born with Down’s Syndrome, and I thought the day that she was born I was going to go crazy, but I did have Jesus in my life, and I knew that there was a God who had already planned out my life, so I just trusted in Him to do what He needed to do. Today, when we’re in the situation that we’re in, I clearly see that His work is being played out from something that happened 7½ years ago.”
The last CFD at the current Busch Stadium featured Cardinals So Taguchi, Abraham Nunez and Cal Eldred popping out of the dugout with Pujols to honor Christ. Wayne Hagin, honorary CFD chairman and voice of the Cardinals on KMOX Radio, was one of several broadcasters and musicians to testify.
“Every gift I have was given to me by God,” Hagin said.
Jim Morris, whose story of making it to the major leagues at age 35 was portrayed in the hit movie “The Rookie,” gave an inspirational talk about the power of Jesus Christ in his life and the value of a sense of humor.
“This is a strong showing for Christians right here today,” said Morris, who pitched in 21 games for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999 and 2000. “The people in the dugout, the people in the stands, the people walking around the stadium – stand up for Christ, do what’s right, and don’t take anything for granted. If it gets tough, find something to laugh about. Get up and attack it again.”
KSIV-AM radio host Harold Hendrick, a member of First Baptist Church, Ferguson, and a consultant to the CFD Committee, likes to come to the event to support CFD founder Judy Boen, a member of West County Community Church, Wildwood. Hendrick, who was surrounded by his children and grandchildren after the game, talked about the significance of CFD to the city as well as the metropolitan area.
“I think it’s a marvelous penetration of the culture,” Hendrick said. “It’s such a non-traditional way to bring people together. It takes a common focus of interest that’s wholesome and then honors the Lord in it.”
Bob Carpenter, WB11-KPLR sportscaster who broadcasts Cardinals games with another believer, former Cardinal pitcher Rick Horton, passed by Boen in the Cardinals dugout as Andy Chrisman of the music group 4Him was leading the crowd in worship.
“Are you happy?” Carpenter asked.
“Yes,” Boen replied.
“If mama’s happy, everybody’s happy,” declared Carpenter, who served as CFD master of ceremonies.
Boen has a habit of praying for her Cardinals to win on CFD, so when the Astros took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, mama began to intercede. Sure enough, the Cardinals scored the runs they needed in the fifth thanks to a three-run home run by Larry Walker. That was good for another Cardinals victory on CFD – their 14th in 15 years.
CFD blesses underprivileged youth who would not otherwise get to see a Cardinals game. About 3,100 children were fed before the game at Kauffman Park, with Morris, St. Louis Rams center Andy McCollum, former Cardinals pitcher Kent Bottenfield and hockey player Charlie Blyth signing their own testimony cards that shared the Gospel.
“I’ve got an incredible committee,” Boen said. “Everything went without a glitch because they all did their jobs. It was amazing.”
Pujols continues to give the Cardinals strong leadership on the field as well as in the community with his bold witness for Christ. After doubling in the third inning, he pointed toward heaven to honor his Creator. In the middle of the CFD festivities, his spiritual bent came though quite clearly.
“God doesn’t need us, but we need Him in our lives, and that’s what it’s all about,” Pujols said.
Deidre Pujols zeroed in on the spiritual condition of fans who may have come to CFD just because they thought it was cool.
“Have you ever invited Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of your life?” she asked. She then led them in a prayer of repentance that she said led to her becoming a Christian at age 16.
In the end, a portion of the message delivered by Morris helped communicate what is at the heart of Christian Family Day in a way that can be effectively applied to sinners only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
“Live right, think right and do right,” Morris said.