For nearly 100 years, Fenway Park has seen it's share of colorful, comedic, and even inspirational events. But never one just about faith. On Sunday afternoon, however, following the Tampa Bay Rays game, Red Sox players stepped onto the stage and addressed the crowd during the first-ever "Faith Day at Fenway" event.
Four players, including Adrian Gonzalez and J.D. Drew, spoke frankly about their life stories, their personal faith in Jesus, and even their suffering game.
"If I didn’t have Jesus in my life, I would have been throwing bats and yelling because of my performance today. I haven’t done good in this series, you know," said Gonzalez. "But I know I have Jesus, and he’s given me eternal life, and that’s the only thing that means something. Baseball, this is my passion, but God, he’s my life."
About 1200 attendees huddled together as temperatures plummeted and The "Matt Scott Band" kicked off the free event with live music. Baseball Chapel's Chapel Leader and Brookline pastor Bland Mason introduced the players, who took turns speaking.
J.D. Drew explained how he'd attended church since "nine months before I was born," but didn't understand his faith until he was 16."That day I placed my faith in Jesus," said Drew, "And I stopped living by ritual, and started living by my relationship with him."
The "Matt Scott Band" finished out the night. Keyboardist Jonathan Hoddenbagh, 27, of Brookline, enjoyed seeing players and fans interact in the unusual setting. "From the feedback we got, people had a great time and enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate their faith in the ballpark," said Hoddenbagh.
Attendees were able to meet players and get autographs after the event. Some were just excited to meet their idols. "We didn’t know Faith Day was happening," said ten-year-old Jack Norris from Ipswich. "We heard about it during the game. They look much bigger in person - and I didn’t know [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] had glasses!"
Others had come specifically for Faith Day, such as Gina Consalvo, from Beverly. "I’m a huge Sox fan, so I was really excited to hear the players come out and share about their purpose in life," said Consalvo. "You know they make a lot of money, and they’re very famous, but the fact that they talked about their personal relationship with Jesus, that was amazing."
Faith Day at Fenway is slated to be an annual event.
[Edit 6:15 p.m.: Corrected the Baseball Chapel's Chapel Leader's title, and identified Jarrod Saltalamacchia. ]