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Baseball Can Save Lives (by Chris Sullivan)

Question:
What would you do if you were raised in Tampa, Florida, played ivy league football at Columbia University and then went on to work as an investment banker in New York City?

Well, if your name was Chris Sullivan, you would conclude that there is more to life than that and opt to passionately pursue the call to service on your life. Chris has moved to Barahona, a poor rural area in the Dominican Republic, and is working with a program called I Love Baseball. The two things that make Chris feel most alive are service and supporting and encouraging others who step out in faith.

Here’s a bit of what’s going on with Chris and the boys of summer:

For the most part I Love Baseball is working with kids that want to be baseball players. We are trying to address some of the problems that are created by young men dropping out of school and leaving home to pursue their dream of baseball glory. We firmly believe that we can replace the negatives that often come along with the pursuit of this dream with positives that are going to open doors for them and develop godly men who will be leaders who can transform their communities – whether they ever play a day in the big leagues or not. Even though we view baseball as a tool to work with these kids, it is easy to sometimes view baseball as the problem or the culprit. There is certainly plenty of blame to go around for the problems down here, and part of the blame does go to the culture and systems that have developed around baseball in the Dominican. The reality though is that there is massive potential to do good and change lives through baseball, and my favorite I Love Baseball player story really gets to the heart of that.

My favorite story in the I Love Baseball program isn’t about a baseball player who discovered there is more to life than just playing baseball. It is the story of a young man with no parents and no plans or dreams of becoming a baseball player. A young man who literally traded our coach his machete for a pair of cleats and a glove. Baseball gave him a purpose and direction. Baseball gave him a family and he has become an amazing young man. I look forward to sharing more of his story with you as I get to know him better. His story reminds us of the redemptive quality of sports. How athletics can be a positive outlet for youths that keeps them off the street and and teaches them about teamwork, sportsmanship, dedication and hard work. We may not forget that side of athletics in the States, where sports has that kind of positive influence on many of our lives, but here in the Dominican, where youth sports is big business and the lessons and associations that go along with them can often be massively negative, it can be easy to look at baseball as the enemy. It isn’t.

Baseball can save lives.

To read more from Chris and his experiences with I Love Baseball, visit him at More Than Fine