Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: Back in the Big Leagues - J.J. Hoover

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” — James 1:17

I’m back in the big leagues and couldn’t be happier.

Though I’ve been sent down to Triple-A and called back up to the big leagues a few times throughout this season, this has been nothing compared to 2016. Last year was quite a learning experience for me. Being sent back down, then up, then down, then up, was challenging. During that time God opened my eyes to see that He could and would use me wherever I was. So this year I’ve been much more open to wherever His plan leads me. Obviously I want to be in the big leagues. My goal is to have more playing time and connect more with the guys (not to mention there’s a significant difference financially to being in the major leagues). But I also know this isn’t the main goal for my life.

Last year was a shock. I didn’t expect or know how to handle being sent down to the minor leagues. This year, I was more open-minded to it. My first thought was, “Ok God, who do you want me to interact with here and why? What am I being called here to do?”

Whether I’m being sent down or called up, I miss the guys from the last team. I love playing with the big league guys, but I also love interacting with the younger guys in the minor leagues. I’ve established a good community and strong relationships with men in both arenas. Thankfully, I’ve been able to keep up text chains with my teammates throughout the season so we can send encouragement, challenges, Scripture passages and prayer requests to each other. The cool thing about the baseball community is that it really overlaps into other teams, organizations and levels of competition.

One of the best parts about being sent down to Triple-A has been the opportunites that have opened up to me to connect with young players. Because I’ve placed my trust and found my peace in Christ alone, my teammates have noticed that circumstances and status changes don’t faze me. They ask me questions which allow me to share not only about baseball and life experience, but most importantly about my faith in Christ. I’ve been able to explain how I deal with day-to-day baseball situations, as well as more in-depth Biblical questions they may have. Being in the bullpen with the other guys for five or six innings per night, our conversations range from the silliest of discussions to the life-changing truth of the Gospel.

God gave me the talent and passion to play baseball. It’s a form of worship for me to go out there and work my hardest in the weight room, on the mound, or in the office working on scouting reports. Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I aim to give God my all — to be the best I can be. I do this, not from a worldly perspective of wanting fame or monetary success, but because I want to be able to do all I can to proclaim my God as the Provider of all good things.

J.J. Hoover

J.J. Hoover is a pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.

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