In a day when heroes seem hard to find in the sports world, in the words of ESPN college football personality Lee Corso, Tim Ellsworth and Scott Lamb say, “Not so fast my friend” in their biography of three-time National League Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols, Pujols: More Than the Game.
Beginning with his humble beginnings in the Dominican Republic, the authors chronicle Pujols’s migration to America and to the game of baseball, which, as Ellsworth and Lamb point out, is the real religion of Pujols’s native land. But the book is more than a history of his life and his baseball career, although the baseball fan will not be disappointed by how much of the sport is discussed. Beyond that, however, the authors set out to show that Pujols is more than just the guy we see nightly on SportsCenter from April to October. He is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many athletes appeal to God, but all too often their lives don’t match up with those emotional acclamations of praise to the Creator. Pujols is different. Being led to the Lord by, Deidre, the woman who would become his wife, Pujols approaches the Christian faith like he approaches the game of baseball: all out. From seeking out ways to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with teammates to showing uncustomary concern for injured players (and even fans) to starting a foundation with his wife to express their faith in helping people, particularly those with Down Syndrome and orphans in the DR, Pujols is shown by the authors to be someone who is an authentic Christian.
Much like the Scriptures do not attempt to hide the faults of heroes of the faith like Abraham, Moses, David, or Peter, Ellsworth and Lamb do not attempt to hide the faults of the man nicknamed “The Machine.” Pujols is a sinner saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. At the risk of repeating a cliched bumper sticker, Pujols is not perfect, just forgiven, and that clearly has had ramifications for the way he has lived his life.
Baseball fans rightly lament the fact so many “heroes” of the game have fallen in what has been dubbed “the steroid era.” Pujols has always denied using these drugs and no one has ever brought forth any accusations with any meat on the bones. The authors make a case why we should trust Pujols, with few of their reasons based on the lack of evidence, but most based on how his faith in Jesus Christ is clearly demonstrated in his life.
At the end of the book this reader is thankful that it really seems when Pujols says, “Don’t be afraid to believe in me,” we know that is based on his own personal faith in Christ, and we can believe.