Back in January, Jake Peavy’s altercation with airport security and subsequent arrest made the national news. The incident resulted in a lot of negative press, cries of arrogance and a considerable amount of ridicule. Some of his detractors appeared to delight in the fact that this well-known Christian athlete was arrested for disorderly conduct. (The charges were later dropped after the pitcher of the San Diego Padres apologized to the officer involved.)
What was universally overlooked in the reporting was Peavy¹s purpose in being at Mobile (Alabama) Regional Airport in the wee hours of Jan. 4. The ace pitcher had agreed to give up a week of his cherished time at home with his wife and kids in order to travel to the impoverished Dominican Republic. Arriving late at the airport, he double parked and was struggling to unload his luggage and catch a flight so that he could be part of UPI¹s (Unlimited Potential Incorporated) Christian mission. Despite its rocky start, the trip turned out to be a major success and one that Peavy will long remember.
³We were down in the Dominican Republic for seven days and we got to spend a lot of time with some unfortunate children,² said the hurler. ³It¹s a Third World country and these kids have nothing. They are starving for hope. We went down and brought along some Bibles and baseball equipment. Baseball is their ray of hope. We brought them the hope that we have in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was an unbelievable eye-opening experience for me.²
In the Dominican Republic, Peavy met up with Atlanta Braves chaplain and UPI official Tim Cash, Texas Rangers minor leaguer Tug Hulett and Atlanta businessman Mark Barth. Together, they held clinics. Peavy concentrated on pitching and Hulett worked with the kids on the hitting and fielding aspects of the game. Then they offered them something much more important.
³We got the kids organized, taught them about baseball and then taught them a little about life,² Peavy said. ³We presented the gospel to them and told them that it is the most important thing in our lives. That is why we were there, to tell them that we loved them and to tell them that there is hope for them beyond this life.²
Peavy is no stranger to standing up on behalf of the Lord. He and another Padres pitcher, Scott Linebrink, have been active with an organization called Baseball Chapel. He also addresses the faithful at Petco Park each summer while participating in the Padres¹ annual Day of Faith celebration. Peavy has also donated his time to various faith-based clinics as well as Team Focus, a group that serves fatherless adolescents and promotes leadership skills, teamwork, academic achievement and spirituality. His mission to the Dominican Republic turned out to be particularly rewarding.
³I¹ve done quite a bit of stuff in the States in terms of speaking engagements, but this was the first time that I got out of my comfort zone and did something that required a leap of faith. We didn¹t know how things were going to work out down there or even how we were going to eat, but it turned out to be a really awesome experience. I¹d like to do something like this on a yearly or on an every other year basis. I want to get out there and use the baseball platform that I have to share the good news.²