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The Funny Thing About San Francisco

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.

DorothyAnd 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.

14 thoughts on “The Funny Thing About San Francisco

  1. What a great post. It’s wonderful how God fulfills our desires. i think of Psalm 37:4 as I read your post. “Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” I love baseball and live in the other bay (as in the Rays.) I thank God for you players who are living out your Christian life before your teammates and the baseball world.

  2. I hear that bro. I am from the Midwest and I thought the moving to San Jose to be a youth pastor was going to rub me wrong, but now I love this place. I love my city like I was born here!

  3. Love how God is so patient with us, especially when we have such preconceived ideas. People are people, sin is sin, God calls us to love people wherever we are, that doesn’t mean we have to agree with them or embrace the sin. We embrace them with the love of Jesus. This is a wonderful post Jeremy and I appreciate your honesty about how the Lord spoke to your heart, how you responded to His word and now your life is a testimony for His glory!! May God continue to bless you and your family as you abide in Him!

    Looking forward to the season!! Have a great spring training.

  4. I’ve been enjoying your posts so much and have to comment on this one. I lived in SF for years and years and there’s just so much to love about it; I can’t wait to see your next post!

    (Right now, though, I’m living in Ritzville and there’s a lot to love about that, too! We tried all winter to get you down here to address a church youth group, but the foundation’s Contact Me button doesn’t seem to work. Maybe next winter?)

  5. Life is what happens while God is making other plans for you. It’s taken me years to realize that as well. What a grace we have in Him!

  6. I love you as a baseball player and for all the work you do for others. However, I am shocked that you were ever so closed minded. The fact that an intelligent adult such as yourself even, could put so much stock and judgement into an entire group of people based off of a single stereotype bothers and shocks me. How can we think that we live in a progressive society when people are still so quick to pass judgement and issue disdain based on nothing but hearsay…

    • Sara, I agree with you, but isn’t that the great thing about true faith? When someone finally realizes that God is all about love, in every sense, their minds truly open. Jeremy’s transition gives me to much hope that others will open themselves to God’s love and to see themselves as brothers to all people, without judging or condemning. There is Hope!

      And Jeremy gets a lot of credit from me for presenting his evolution publicly. As well as a great curve!

  7. I can totally relate! When I moved out here 25 years ago, it was kicking and screaming. I was pretty sure there were no Christians in the whole state! Of course, that’s nonsense. There are plenty of believers but more importantly there so many who need to experience the love of Jesus! Blessings on you as you serve and testify through your actions. Love watching you play!

  8. I have to admit I was a bit shocked by this post! I am a Christian and lived 54 years in Santa
    Rosa without feeling the way that you obviously did. San Francisco is a major city and like all major cities in the US it is a melting pot of people, those who choose to live without sin and those who live a life full of sin. As a loyal servant of the lord you would live your life to please him no matter where you called home and God doesn’t condemn us for the location. Any preacher should be of the mind to work with those who need saving the most and I feel that beauty is where you seek it.
    California after all is the one state that has attempted to ban same sex marriage and that to me says alot.

  9. Everything happens for a reason, Jeremy, even when we question why. Hubby and I are fans of yours, and have been watching you since you moved up to the majors. Incidentally, you look just like your dad. We both knew him years ago at Fairchild AFB when we were stationed there, circa 1980-something. A good man, who obviously raised a fine son. Best wishes for your continued success…and please stay in the West!

  10. One thing you share with the people of San Francisco: compassion others. It may be based on very different religious and political backgrounds, but that common ground is a place of contact, and perhaps even hope.

  11. As a Gay man and a HUGE fan of the Giants (I have lived in this beautiful wonderful City of San Francisco for 31 years now) I want to Thank You for having the courage to admit you were wrong and for opening your mind & heart. That’s really all God wants us to do – then we can achieve great things 🙂

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