(Photo courtesy of Barry Gossage/Arizona Diamondbacks)

When I got to first base in Game 7, there was a reason I was so flustered...and it wasn't just because the bunt didn't work. It was because you only got so many chances against Mariano Rivera.

At that point in his career, Mariano Rivera was nearly unhittable. The Yankees had won four of the last five World Series, and Rivera had played a role in each of them. His postseason ERA going into that game was 0.57. That's not a typo... 78.2 innings pitched, and a total of 6 earned runs.

But 1 Corinthians 10:31 says whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God, and my task at that point was to wipe the slate clean from the bunt and focus on rounding the bases. With one out and the lead runner at second base, I still represented the winning run. That goes beyond baseball too, wipe the slate clean and focus on the next task.

Tony Womack stepped up to the plate, and while he didn't always have the highest average, he had the clutch factor that whole playoffs. He smacked a double down the right field line, and as soon as I realized the ball wouldn't be caught, I took off. My teammate Midre Cummings raced around to tie the game at 2-2, and I pulled up at third. Bank One Ballpark, as it was known back then, was as loud as I had ever heard it.

 
 

At that point I wasn't thinking at all about the bunt. I was thinking that we could win this thing right here. With me standing at third and Tony at second base, Mariano hit the next batter to load the bases. Now our best hitter, Luis Gonzalez, was at the dish and the Yankees had nowhere to put him.

On an 0-1 count, with the country at the edge of their seats, Gonzalez blooped a shot just hard enough to get to the outfield. I put my hands over my head, clapping as I ran towards home for the final run. Waiting for me was Matt Williams, who besides myself was the other original Diamondback that the franchise brought in. It was the perfect conclusion to an amazing season.

 
 

Winning the World Series, especially after playing 14 seasons, was one of the best feelings of my life. That moment is something you always dream of, and I got to live it out. But that moment pales in comparison to my relationship with Jesus. When you look at things from an eternal perspective, winning a World Series can't compete with going to Heaven.

Now that I'm a manager, ironically for the Yankees organization, my goal is still the same. If I can be an imitator of Christ, maybe I can help others begin their own relationship with God. Knowing what God has done in my own life, I think it’s the greatest gift I can give.

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Thomas Hager3 Comments