Just over three years ago, Elizabethton, Tenn., high school senior Evan Carter saw his baseball season end after just three games due to closures instigated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like every other athlete in the country at the time, he was greatly disappointed – and unsure when players would be allowed to compete again.
Earlier this month, the now 21-year-old, who had been the 50th pick in the 2020 MLB Amateur Draft, made his Major League debut with a single in his first at-bat. He was also walked and stole a base.
Sitting in the dugout with a gaggle of reporters prior to his debut, Carter began by saying, “I’m grateful. I thank God for this opportunity.”
Later on during the game, Carter’s wife, Kaylan, whom he met in the sixth grade and married just last year, told a television reporter, “All the glory to God. Without Him we wouldn’t be here.”
Evan Carter’s dugout interview made news for another reason. Sitting on the bench following batting practice, the rookie centerfielder was wearing a blue t-shirt with white and red lettering featuring the phrase, “JESUS WON” emblazoned across its front.
It’s encouraging to see a young athlete use his new platform to communicate a message that goes well beyond the mere particulars or dynamics of the game – even though the Rangers are currently in second place in the American League West division, as well as competing for a wild card slot in the playoffs.
Bruce Bochy, the team’s manager and former Major League ballplayer has lauded Carter’s behavior and endearing characteristics in an interview with the Dallas Morning News:
“We’ve said, even going back to spring training, that the patience and discipline he had, at that time, as a 20-year–old, that’s not something that just happens. That’s what he does all the time. He tries to shrink the strike zone and make pitchers come to him. He doesn’t panic at two strikes. He just gives you quality at-bats. He’s advanced for his age. That’s why he is up here.”
Bochy went on to praise Carter’s joyful spirit. The player’s response?
“It’s not worth doing if you’re not having fun,” Carter said. “It’s definitely — it’s the job that you chose, so you better love it. I do. I love the game and I love playing, I love competing, so, really, it’s a joyful thing for me.”
Of course, Evan Carter’s philosophy of life is informed by his theology. He’s grateful for God’s gifts, especially eternal life, and is determined to live with gratitude and confidence.
As a Christian, do you live with a similar peace and lift? I’m reminded of what my friend, the late H.B. London, used to say: “Too many Christians know they’re saved – but that assurance just doesn’t make it from their brain to their face.”
It’s good to be reminded too, that we’re to use whatever platform God gives us to advance His Kingdom work. It will look different for each person, all of whom are uniquely created and gifted. Few will have the audience the size of Major League Baseball. But all of us can contribute.
Evan Carter recognizes there’s a lot of uncertainties surrounding his future. In his role with his ballclub, he knows the team is hopeful and even expectant that he’ll help the team win games. Time will tell how successful he proves to be, but as his t-shirt addressed, regardless of the outcome of the games, Evan Carter has already won when it comes to what matters most of all.
Photo Credit: Texas Rangers Today Baseball Podcast