Spring 2021 Magazine

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Brett Phillips thanks God after becoming World Series hero

Relatively speaking, not many people knew Brett Phillips entering this World Series. He was a reserve Tampa Bay Rays outfielder who was left off the ALCS roster so the team could carry an extra pitcher.

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But with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning of Game 4 on Saturday night, Phillips became a World Series hero. With Tampa trailing 7-6, the 26-year-old dropped a single into center field to bring in the tying run. Chaos then ensued.

Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor muffed the ball, allowing Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena, who started on first, to head for home. Taylor threw the ball to first baseman Max Muncy, who relayed it to catcher Will Smith. Arozarena stumbled and would have been thrown out, but Smith dropped the ball at the plate. That allowed Arozarena to safely slide home.

The series is now tied at two games apiece, with Game 5 taking place Sunday at 8:08 p.m. ET.

Phillips, who had just collected his first career postseason hit, spoke with FOX Sports after the rowdy on-field celebration.

“First of all, what a great team win. It took almost 28 guys, that’s what’s special about this team, we just all come together for one goal, to win. We don’t rely on one guy, it takes everyone. Man, baseball is fun, wow,” he said.

He then thanked God: “What a special moment. I just want to thank God for the opportunity.”

When asked about his game-winning at-bat, Phillips said, “I was just trying to slow things down. Obviously myself being a high-energy player, in moments like that, sometimes it’s tough to slow down. But God willing, I was able to get a good pitch there and help the team win, just like everyone else did tonight.”

Because he was running the base paths, Phillips didn’t see everything that took place with Arozarena.

“Then [the catcher] missed the ball, I don’t know what happened but then [Arozarena] scored,” he said. “The next thing I know I’m airplane-ing in the outfield and I get dog-piled.”

One of the most fun players in baseball, Phillips made light of being left off Tampa’s ALCS roster by becoming the self-appointed “keep-it-simple” coach. He’s long been known for being a great teammate, he brings the fun to any clubhouse he’s in, and plenty of laughs if he gets laughing. His laugh is legendary.

He’s also a follower of Christ. Phillips lists Isaiah 41:10 in his social media bios, and says his faith has grown since he’s been in pro baseball. He said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2018 that he accepted Christ in seventh grade at a youth group meeting, but felt led to get baptized at a Pro Athletes Outreach conference in November 2016. He left that event with a reading plan that would take him through the entire Bible in a year. He says he never missed a day, even if he had to do the reading at 2 a.m. after a game.

It’s never been clearer to Phillips why he plays this game.

“I play because of Him and I play for Him,” Phillips said on the podcast. “And I play just because He’s blessed me with the gifts and the opportunity, not me. I’ve got nothing to do with it.”

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