Spring 2021 Magazine

Former Oakland A's prospect Grant Desme returns to baseball after seeking God's guidance

If it weren’t for God, Grant Desme may not have left baseball.

And if it weren’t for God, Grant Desme may not have returned to baseball.

A former second-round MLB draft pick and top prospect of the Oakland Athletics, the 32-year-old outfielder is perhaps best known for leaving the game at age 23, when he announced he was pursuing priesthood at St. Michael’s Abbey in California. Instead of riding his 31-home-run campaign in 2009 Class-A ball to more hype as a future A’s slugger, Desme rode his desire for spiritual “formation” right into the monastery.

“The whole time really, I was wrestling with what way I was being called to give myself to Christ,” Desme said, as documented in a retelling by CBS Sports’ R.J. Anderson.

More than eight years later, the former Cal Poly and Arizona Fall League standout is back on the diamond with the Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers. He told Anderson he doesn’t regret his hiatus, which led to “things that are going to be with me for my entire life.” But he also attributed his return not to a renewed hunger for MLB glory but to the faith that inspired him to step away.

“I came to the conclusion that God was calling me to married life,” he said.

And so Desme, who once went from hot prospect to off-the-grid priest-to-be, ultimately departed the Abbey before finishing his studies. In 2017, he started coaching at Ave Maria University, a Catholic school in Florida. And he did it all with the inspiration of “good fatherhood” — a desire to model Biblical marriage and family. It was something he couldn’t have done in the monastery. But it’s something he can do with baseball as a career.

“He would love to play on, but will be happy to return to Ave Maria this fall if that’s how things break,” Anderson writes. “He isn’t prone to housing regrets. He isn’t one to second-guess his decisions. He follows the path he believes has been laid out for him by his maker.”

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