He grew up playing catch just like any kid, except he used limes instead of a baseball and a milk cartoon instead of a glove. He often watched his dad play softball and carried him home when he got drunk after the games.
Life in the Dominican Republic wasn’t easy for Albert Pujols, but now the 10-time All-Star has come to realize that God had a plan for him all along.
“God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball,” Pujols wrote in a testimony posted on his foundation’s website. “But baseball is not the end; baseball is the means by which my wife … and I glorify God. Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.”
Pujols’ early life, as told by Joe Posnanski in Sports Illustrated in 2009, was typical for a Dominican youth. As many as 50 percent of children in the nation live in poverty, according to a 2013 study released by the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Pujols and his family moved to New York in 1996 to pursue a better future, but the family’s view of America took a dent when Pujols witnessed a shooting at a grocery store, prompting the family to move to Independence, Mo.
Following a short stint at Maple Woods Community College in the Kansas City area, Pujols declared for the 1999 Major League Baseball amateur draft. He wasn’t on many teams’ radars heading into the draft, according to Red Sox scout Ernie Jacobs.
“People weren’t sure how old the guy was. You assumed what he told you was true, but he wasn’t a great body, and his swing was a little long … There were a couple of scouts who liked him, who thought he could go high, but there were a lot that didn’t,” Jacobs said in a Boston Globe article in 2006.
Amid the doubts surrounding Pujols heading into the draft, he was able to answer some doubts of his own. In November 1998, he trusted Jesus as his Lord and Savior just months before the draft.
Pujols’ future wife played a large role in his conversion.
“In the spring of 1998, my soon to be wife, Deidre, began sharing with me the love of Jesus. My most exciting moment came when I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life. If it weren’t for Jesus, I would not be where I am today and my life would be without purpose,” Pujols wrote in his testimony.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press