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FAITHFUL FAN | Ian Desmond damaged Cards’ playoff hopes, repaired his faith

The St. Louis Cardinals, in the heat of a pennant race, lost two of three games to the lowly Colorado Rockies in a September match-up, but it was good to see Ian Desmond on the field for the Rockies.

The Cards lost two games by 2-1 scores Sept. 10 and 11 before opening up on the Rockies with a 10-3 win Sept. 12. Desmond didn’t play in the first game and had a hit in a losing cause for his team in his only at-bat in the third game. But he scored the winning run in the second game on a sixth-inning home run.

That hurt.

But you have to feel good for Desmond, who often speaks about his faith in God that was instilled in him as a child while attending a Catholic school. The right-handed-hitting 33-year-old has a worthy 11-year career so far, compiling 1,425 hits, 178 home runs and a .263 average. An all-around player, he was an All-Star in 2012 and 2016, won the N.L. Silver Slugger Award from 2012-14 and won his teams’ Heart and Hustle Award five times. This year, he has 17 homers, 61 RBIs and a .253 average, as of Sept. 16.

Desmond attended a Catholic school through the fifth grade. Once he began playing in the minor leagues, the hectic schedule and his focus on baseball led him away from church attendance and faith matters. But he regained it as a player on a faith-filled Washington Nationals team with several other players who attended Catholic schools, including pitchers Dan Haren and Craig Stammen.

Desmond told Sports Spectrum in 2016 that his wife had no faith background and began asking him questions about his Catholic upbringing. She started going to Bible studies and when their first child was born, he opened up the Bible and attended a chapel service with the team. He said he realized that he already spent time on his physical health but also needed to put time in on his spiritual health and his trust in God.

He told Unshamed Athletes that he made a commitment in 2011 to read the Bible twice a day. His relationship with God began to grow and the little things he learned as a child at that Catholic school in Florida were becoming a part of his life.

His favorite Bible passage is Romans 5:3-4, which says: “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

In an article on the Washington Nationals’ website, Desmond said that God has more important issues to deal with than his baseball career, but that he gives his athletic ability to God to do whatever He wants with it.

Desmond and his wife, Chelsey, have three sons and a daughter. Since 2012, he has worked to raise awareness about neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue.

Desmond is an example of one outspoken athlete about faith. There’s many more. To learn more about the topic, visit Catholic Athletes for Christ, a group with a mission is to serve Catholic athletes and share the Gospel of Christ in and through athletics, at www.catholicathletesforchrist.org.

Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.

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