If you’re not a Cincinnati Reds fan then you may not know who Michael Lorenzen is, but you should! In an era full of athletes wanting to collect a paycheck and go home I would consider Michael to be a breath of fresh air on the diamond. We also live in an era that tends to put athletes into very small boxes which allow little wiggle room for them to have fun. We tell children they can only play one sport to be good, and we tell pros they can only play one position or one side of the ball– but why? Michael Lorenzen breaks the mold of today’s conventional wisdom in regards to sports; but I also love him because of his faith in Christ and his bold proclamation of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus. Let’s take a look at why Michael is a fun baseball player and why I think he should/could be a role model for young athletes.
I am an avid Cincinnati Reds fan, and while Joey Votto is clearly the best player of the past 10 years, Michael Lorenzen has been the most fun! Since coming up in the Reds minor league system Michael has started games as a pitcher, came out of the bullpen, hit for power, pinch ran for speed, and now the guy is even playing some centerfield! The man is freakishly strong, one of the fastest players on the team, and he can pitch at a major league level… He’s incredible. The most fun moment of an awful 2018 campaign for my Redlegs came when Lorenzen was called in to pinch-hit in the 7th inning and he actually hit a grand slam! How many pitchers have ever been able to pitch gems as long-relievers and then also confidently blast bombs in meaningful situations? How many pitchers have you ever heard of who are trusted by their managers so much that their coaches put them in to run in late-game scenarios with the game on the line? Michael has already been a blast to watch, but if his centerfield training really works out this year then he will be must watch baseball TV.
Beyond the diamond I find Michael Lorenzen to be a wonderful candidate for role model-hood for younger athletes. Michael has experienced the grace of God in His life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and this reality he now lives in as a Christ follower has made him a person who exemplifies the character of Jesus. Michael serves as a light in the midst of the world of modern athletics, and we need this! We need this because let’s face it… There aren’t many athletes who are honoring Christ in their day to day activities. Telling of his conversion to Christ, Michael said the following in an interview, ” “As this guy was sharing (the preacher), it was just unbelievably convicting because he broke down that it was just more than ‘believe in a God,’ but you have to serve and live for God,” Lorenzen said. “Even the demons believe in God.” He continued, “I wasn’t doing anything in my life to show that I did believe in it to show that it meant anything to me.”
Then, Michael said my favorite thing I’ve ever heard an athlete say:
“This guy gave me the Gospel message. It hit me. I had to think about everything he said. I think I was the only one who left that place and was really impacted. God had chosen me to be spoken to and I’m forever grateful for that reason that he chose me to speak into my life and change my life. Ever since that day, the seed was planted and I started going to church with my brother and finally the message made sense to me. It was life. It was truth. I ended up going up and giving my life to the Lord,”
By Michael’s own confession, we can know that he now lives to glorify God and enjoy him forever. This is what he said…
“I want to do exactly what this man did on the pier for me — I want to use baseball to do that for thousands and thousands of people,” Lorenzen said. “Ever since then, that was really the turning point of my life.”
In a day and age when athletes are half-hearted or even pointing younger athletes to moral bankruptcy, may we seek to be encouraged and may we prop up good role models like Michael Lorenzen for the next generation of athletes. I pray that Christ will bless Him and keep Him. I pray that Michael will continue to exalt Christ through the proclamation of the gospel, and that he would have a unique platform to share the love of God for sinful humans.