Pitchers put service first, find success in majors
Doug Benc, Getty Images
At an age when most major league prospects are either under contract or preparing for another year of college, one promising pitcher left Brigham Young University, entered the Missionary Training Center and shut out baseball.
He didn't take a glove. He didn't do one push-up. And for two years, he didn't throw a baseball.
In fact, Jeremy Guthrie never talked about the sport, or the fact
that his talent made a professional baseball career a real possibility.
The only people who knew were his mission president and a companion who
found out through other means.
Yet just two months after Guthrie returned home from Spain in
2000, the velocity on his pitches had returned to pre-mission levels.
\"I was being blessed,\" he said. \"It wasn't anything I could have planned for.\"
Once he accepted a mission call, the only definitive plans
Guthrie could make concerned how he would serve. The same was true for
Matt Lindstrom, a Ricks College pitcher who went on a mission to
Sweden. The decision to become a missionary for The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints left Guthrie and Lindstrom, like so many
other major league hopefuls, without any guarantees in a profession
where such service is often viewed with wariness. But both men are now
established major league players Guthrie with the Baltimore Orioles
and Lindstrom with the Florida Marlins and despite the inherent
challenges, both reflect on their decision and experiences with
grattitude and conviction.
When Guthrie left Ashland, Ore., in 1997 for Provo, Utah, he had been
on the radar of baseball scouts for some time. The New York Mets
selected him out of high school in the 15th round of the first-year
player draft.But the goal to serve a mission was already in place, and Guthrie
joined the BYU baseball program in part because it would allow him to
reach that objective.
According to his former coach at BYU, Gary Pullins, Guthrie's story is
typical of most players who serve missions. The decision usually comes
before the player steps on campus and has its roots in the home.
\"I think Jeremy knew even before he enrolled in college that he
was going to serve a mission,\" said Pullins, who led the BYU program
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