Summer 2024

MLB Closeup: Chris Coghlan

Before Chicago Cubs utility player Chris Coghlan made it to the major leagues, the thought of winning a World Series might have been something that would not only be the peak of his baseball career but also the peak of his life.

On June 5, 2001, when Coghlan was 15 years old, he came home one day after his high school exams, and saw cars lining up and down his driveway.

“What is this party for?” he said upon walking into his home.

He was then greeted by his mother coming down the stairs and crying.

Coghlan’s father had been in a tragic car accident.

Baseball became everything to Coghlan after that day. It was his therapy. His hope. His escape.

“Baseball became my god when I lost my father,” Coghlan told Shawn Brown of CBN Sports. “I felt like that was the way, at a young age, to honor him, because he poured a lot into me, and baseball was big to him.”

Coghlan also started drinking.

“I felt like I could do whatever I wanted, because I had the best excuse,” Coghlan said in a 2011 video with I Am Second. “I felt like everyone owed me something.”

But his drinking began to cause issues, not only in his personal life but also on the baseball field. When he began playing in the minor leagues, he noticed that one of his teammates was reading a Bible in the clubhouse. Coghlan, longing to discover deeper meaning in his life, ended up sitting down with his teammate at Starbucks and exploring Christianity.

“I was tired of chasing the wind, tired of chasing these temporary satisfactions I was having and realizing that every night I had an empty feeling and I was trying to fill this void with these earthly things, with baseball,” Coghlan said. “I realized that this game is all about failure and how you deal with that failure and I was a miserable person. I wanted God, and I wanted Jesus.”

“I had that hole (in my heart),” Coghlan told Sports Spectrum in 2011. “And when my dad left to be with the Lord, I filled it with baseball. It was number one, but it’s not going to fulfill you.”

Coghlan broke into the big leagues in 2009 with the Florida Marlins and was named the NL Rookie of the Year. After spending five years with the Marlins, he landed in the Chicago Cubs organization in 2014. Today, he is a World Series champion.

“There’s so many ups and downs in this game,” Coghlan told CBN. “My faith is really the only constant that I do have…I would just encourage others at their brokenness to turn to Jesus versus other things, speaking from a guy who has turned to other things; it just doesn’t fulfill.”

“Everything that is happening to us, it’s for His glory and for His good,” Coghlan told Sports Spectrum. “And in the end, He gets all the glory. It’s not easy, but that’s what we’re called as Christians to do.”

Near the end of his video with I Am Second, Coghlan said: “What is striking out three times? What is two errors? All that is temporary. The constant satisfaction, that rock where I can put my hope and faith is Christ. I think my dad is more proud that I accepted Christ in my heart than anything that could have made him proud of on the baseball field or any choice I could have made. I think he’s most proud that I’m living for a righteous and holy God.”

This story was published in Sports Spectrum’s Fall 2016 print magazine. Log in HERE to view the issue. Subscribe HERE to receive four issues of Sports Spectrum a year.