Here’s the funny thing about San Francisco. For the first seven years of my professional career, I said, “No chance I’m ever signing with San Francisco. I will not go there.” People would ask me, “Why not?” And I would tell them, “Because I don’t agree morally with that city, and I don’t agree politically with that city.”
Anytime my team went to San Francisco to play, either the A’s or the Giants depending on the league I was in, we’d always stay in San Francisco. I would stay in my hotel room the entire time. I would only come out to go to the ballpark. When it was time to get on a train, I wouldn’t even leave the hotel and wait on the sidewalk. Instead, I’d stay inside and look out the doors. As soon as the BART came, I’d run to it, get on, and go to the field. I didn’t want anything to do with that city. Nothing.
And to make matters worse, when I was a rookie in 2002 and we played the A’s, my teammates dressed me up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz for rookie initiation. They dropped me off about eight blocks from the hotel. Now, I know everybody knows about San Francisco. So imagine being dressed as Dorothy, with a goatee, and having to run to the hotel. It is not good. There were issues. So I had a lot of bad ideas about San Francisco, and I did not like it. I was resolved. I would never go there.
So in 2008, I signed a two-year deal with San Francisco. I was a free agent that year, and my agent said, “What do you want?” I said, “I want to be on the west coast. I want to be where I can take a quick flight home to my wife, (we had one son at the time), and I would like a two-year deal.” My agent said, “Okay.” When he called me back, he said, “I got a two-year deal done with everything you want. I did the deal in five minutes.” I asked him, “Who is it with?” And my agent said, “San Francisco.”
You know the feelings I had about this! So I asked him, “Anybody else?” My agent said, “No one else has called.” I asked him, “Is anybody else going to call?” He said, “Yeah, probably.” I asked, “Can we wait?”
Now, my agent is a Christian. And he said, “Jeremy. We prayed about this. God has given you, to the T, every single thing you wanted. San Francisco has said yes to all of it.” And so I grudgingly agreed. “All right,” I said. “Two years. I’ve just got to grin and bear it for two years.” Two years.
By the end of the contract I just signed, I will have spent seven years in San Francisco. And guess what? I absolutely love the city. And I’m in love with the city. God has opened my eyes, and the things He has shown me have been absolutely amazing. And that has been possible only because I opened my heart to the journey that He asked me to take.
This journey is not about being a good baseball player. It is not about having success in the major leagues. He has given me those things, but it took me a long time to receive them. For years, I struggled. I didn’t receive His blessings until I opened myself up to saying, “I just want to love my neighbor as myself.”
Now, I want to live as a baseball player that says, “No man shall live for himself.” I don’t want to live for myself. I want to live for other people. And in the job that He has called me to do, I want my successes to help other people succeed. I want to use my profession to open up doors for people. Whether that is feeding someone who is hungry, or giving water to someone who is thirsty, I want to live for other people and help them dream.
And since God brought me to San Francisco, that has come to include rescuing people that are in slavery. I want to use my success to make sure that they are free to dream the dreams that they want to dream. I want to make sure that they are free to do the things that they want to do. I want their dreams and their work to be their choice. I want to take away the choice of somebody else to sell them.
Next time, I’ll tell you more about how God taught me to fight human trafficking. I’m moving my blog to a Thursday-Monday schedule, so I’ll see you Monday.