August 12, 2003
A Cardinal star, Missouri Baptist who is not ashamed of the Gospel
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Cardinal baseball fans already know a lot about Albert Pujols.
They know he’s one of the best – if not the best – young players ever to wear a Cardinal uniform. They know he’s big and strong (at age 23 he stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 225 pounds).
They can also tell you that he was named National League Rookie of the Year in 2001 and is leading the National League in batting this season with an average hovering around .375. He has hit more than 30 home runs and has more than 100 runs batted in. And he’s also a candidate for the Most Valuable Player in the National League award.
But what some fans may not know is that Pujols is a born again Christian – and a Baptist.
Pujols’ walk with the Lord began in Kansas City.
Here’s how he described it on the back of a special baseball card distributed to thousands of fans attending Christian Family Day in St. Louis on July 23.
"Growing up in the Dominican Republic I lived to play baseball. My wife, Deidre, who at the time was my girlfriend, shared how much Jesus loved me. I realized I needed more than religion. Jesus Christ wanted a relationship with me personally. So on Nov. 13, 1998, I gave my life to Him.
"People ask me if I believe how quickly my career has taken off. I tell them Christ is my strength. God has blessed me and I will continue to do my best for Him. That is more important than anything I could ever do in baseball Do you feel that something is missing in your life?
"That something may be someone — Jesus Christ. He died for you, me and every other sinner. Accept Him as your Lord and Savior and you will have eternal life and peace here on Earth."
Steve Miller, an associate pastor at Kansas City Baptist Temple, said Pujols started coming to church with his wife about five years ago.
"Our senior pastor, Jeff Adams, served as a missionary in Central America for 12 years. He speaks Spanish fluently. I know that Jeff talked to Albert in Spanish because he (Albert) felt more comfortable getting the Gospel in his own language," Miller said.
Miller, who possibly was headed toward a professional baseball career before hurting his arm in the 1980s, said he considered it as "special" to be the one to baptize Pujols in January 2001.
It was Pujols’ wife, Deidre, who pointed Albert to Christ.
Deidre had been a Christian for several years before meeting Albert. They were married on New Year’s Day, 2000, and it was her strong faith that began influencing the soon-to-be major league star.
"Deidre brought Albert to Bible study, and asked me to talk to him about what it means to become a Christian," said Miller, who was saved during a Life Action Crusade at Southwest Baptist University after his arm injury ended his baseball playing days. "She wanted to make sure he understood what it means, because her Spanish wasn’t real good. He did. He gave his life to Christ and began to grown."
Pujols told Sharing the Victory, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes magazine, that he approached becoming a Christian the same way he has approached baseball – with determination.
"There were times when I really wanted (to commit my life to Christ), but I never got a person to push me like my wife. It’s like a lot of people believe it, but they don’t want to get saved. They don’t think they’re ready. I think that day I was ready. I told my wife that when I walked into church that day, I was going to get saved," Pujols said.
The Pujols family now makes their home in St. Louis. They attend West County Community Church, a Missouri Baptist Convention church located just off State Highway 100 in St. Louis County.
Pujols immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1996. He played high school baseball at Fort Osage High School in Kansas City and earned a baseball scholarship from Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City.
Pujols says there’s more to his life than baseball.
"There are a lot of guys that I want to open the Bible with and bring to the Lord," he said. "I try to let people know that there’s somebody out there who cares for them, someone who died for us. I just try to open my Bible and give my heart to them."