Winter 2022 magazine

Catcher J.T. Realmuto helps Phillies reach NLCS while keeping Christ at the center

Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto isn’t an overly expressive guy on the field, but even he had to make an exception Saturday after becoming the first catcher ever to hit an inside-the-park home run in the playoffs.

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With the Phillies up 3-1 in the third inning, Realmuto launched a ball to center field that bounced off the wall and got away from Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris II. It ended up being the winning run in an 8-3 victory that sent Philadelphia to the National League Championship Series for the first time in 12 years.

“I’m not usually a guy that shows a lot of emotion, but when I slid into home there, I just couldn’t help myself,” he said after the game. “I was so excited. Excited for this city, excited for this team. It was just one of those moments that I’ll definitely remember forever.”

Widely regarded as one of the best catchers in baseball, Realmuto was selected by the Florida (now Miami) Marlins in the third round of the 2010 draft. He spent five seasons with the Marlins before being traded to Philadelphia in 2019. In January 2021, he signed a five-year, $115.5 million deal to remain in Philadelphia. He thanked God in an Instagram post once the news broke.

 

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The three-time All-Star is one of many Phillies players experiencing the postseason for the first time after he missed out each of the past eight years. He is 6-for-24 with two RBIs and two walks through two series in his playoff debut.

Realmuto, 31, entered the playoffs on the back of one of the best seasons of his career. He set a new career high with 84 RBIs and became the second catcher to hit at least 20 home runs and steal at least 20 bases. Philadelphia went 87-75 to earn the final wild-card spot in the National League and has knocked off two division winners — including the defending World Series champions — without facing an elimination game.

As he’s established himself in the major leagues, Realmuto has also established his foundation on Christ. In a September 2020 appearance on the “Faith on the Field Show,” he said that although he grew up going to church, his personal relationship with Christ didn’t take off until he met his wife, Alexis. Fully committing his life to Christ changed the way he viewed his identity.

“It’s extremely important to me in life to know that the first thing I am … before I’m a father, before I’m a baseball player, the No. 1 thing I am is a follower of Christ,” he said on the podcast.

 

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As he deals with the pressures of being a professional athlete, husband and parent, Realmuto has experienced the peace that comes with having a foundation built on faith in God.

“Especially in today’s day, being able to fall back on that relationship with Christ, if that’s the center of your life, all these problems that you’re going through, all these worries that you have, always seem a lot smaller,” he said on the podcast. “You can always have faith in Him that He’ll be there with you to get you through that.”

Standing between the Phillies and the World Series are now the San Diego Padres, who eliminated the 101-win New York Mets and 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers. Game 1 will take place Tuesday night in San Diego. First pitch is at 8:03 p.m. ET.

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