I was about as far away from Major League Baseball as I could get in my profession, but on this particular day I was closer to God than I had ever been before.

 

I had talked to God my whole life, but it wasn't until a few years after this day I ever began to call myself a Christian. Before that, I would talk to God without really believing in who was listening on the other end. But on this particular day, God decided to talk right back.

 

I wasn't in Triple-A ball, or Double-A, or even in the minor leagues at all. I was several years deep into this personal saga just to throw a major league pitch, and I was sitting in a bullpen in Venezuela. And thanks to God's intervention – as well as my daughter's – they prevented me from making one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

 

This was right in the thick of the steroids era in baseball, but at that point I was one of the players who still hadn't used it. I was initially scared of the stuff, because there was no quality control back then, and some players were taking chances on supplements that turned out to be animal steroids that gave them breasts like a woman. It was not a risk I felt like taking, even though there was no steroid testing in baseball at the time.

 

But as my big league aspirations began to creep farther away with each passing day, the thought of using steroids started to seem more tempting. I wasn't in my early 20s anymore – I was a grown man with a wife and kids in America – kids who needed a father who could provide for them. I eventually got desperate enough that I cracked under the pressure, but it was right in that moment that God changed the course of my life.

 

With promises of throwing 100 miles per hour if I started using it, I finally approached somebody about taking steroids. When I get back from my road trip with the team, I told him, I want to try some. He was happy to grant my request.

 

As soon as we got back - with an off day to begin my downward spiral into steroids – I got a message. My daughter, who has Down Syndrome, was having seizures.

 

Come home.

 

I know that this was God's way - and my daughter's way - of saying don't do it dad, come home.

 

So I did just that, and I never asked for steroids again.

 

But just because I passed one of the biggest tests of my life didn't mean my journey to the big leagues was any closer. Our family needed God's help then as much as we ever had.

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Thomas Hager