PLATTE CITY, MO.
Latter-day Saint pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who started two games in the recent 2014 World Series, spoke to a crowd of 750 people about his personal baseball journey and how his faith has made all the difference.
With his wife, Jenny, at his side, Brother Guthrie addressed an audience of members and friends at a Church meetinghouse in Platte City, Missouri. The Nov. 1 devotional was dubbed “An Evening with Jeremy Guthrie.” In his remarks, the right-handed pitcher for the Kansas City Royals answered the question: “Who are you?”
Sister Guthrie began the evening by reminding attendees of the question young Simba is asked after the loss of his father in “The Lion King” — a question echoed throughout the evening: “Who are you?”
In his remarks, Brother Guthrie reminisced about his high school years playing basketball, baseball and football, and how his primary sports desire was to be a football quarterback for Brigham Young University.
However, when the professional baseball scouts came to see a teammate pitch, a wise coach put Jeremy up on the mound first.
His 98-mph pitches got the scouts’ attention, and Jeremy appeared to be on his way to the pros.
In fact, he started carrying a cellphone around in high school to receive offers from the pro teams, one of which came in the middle of English class from the San Diego Padres for $350,000. Pressed for an answer, Jeremy said no. But other offers continued to come in.
At 19, Jeremy was drafted by the New York Mets. On a trip to New York City and Shea Stadium, the time for a decision had arrived. However, as a Latter-day Saint youth, he had made plans to serve a two-year mission for the Church. In fact, at a Church youth conference he had been told by a celebrated LDS author that he would “be a great missionary for the Church.”
Jeremy hoped that he could negotiate a baseball contract that would allow him to serve his mission first and then return to pro ball, just as McKay Christensen, another LDS ball player, had done.
The Mets general manager told Jeremy that he would never be able to get back to pitching after a two-year hiatus and that he would have to choose between a mission and the Mets. Jeremy told Saturday night’s audience, “Everything you do in life is preparing you to meet God. I wanted to do what the Lord wanted me to do.”
He told the official that he would serve his mission rather than sign with the Mets.
In 1999, he left his ball and glove behind. After playing for a year at Brigham Young University, he was off to Spain to begin his two-year mission for the Church “with the purpose to help others receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
On his mission he learned to work hard and to be obedient — lessons that would last a lifetime. After his mission, he was admitted to Stanford University. Within a few weeks he was back to pitching balls in the 90-mph range again and later pitched in the College World Series in back-to-back seasons.
The same scout he had seen in high school became aware of him again. He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians. In an early session with fellow players, the Indians coaching staff asked each one, “Who are you?”
The players offered various answers, but Brother Guthrie’s seemed to end the discussion: “I am a child of God.”
When it came time for the next step in his baseball career, Jeremy said he left it up to the Lord and, in 2003, he was one of the final players to make the Baltimore Orioles team.
The 2012 season brought him to the Kansas City Royals.
Now, at age 35, Brother Guthrie believes he can “look young and play young” because of his obedience to “The Word of Wisdom, a sacred health law that bestows both physical and spiritual benefits.”