This is the time of year when we baseball fans find ourselves with a childlike passion for the game. The “boys of October” are family members we love to follow. Every autumn World Series fever seems as contagious as the flu.
As our Seattle Mariners fell a game short of making the playoffs, I found myself battling boyhood blues. I was 10 years old again with feelings I felt when the old Seattle Rainiers broke my heart. Once again it was painful. Losing strategic games to both the Astros and the Rangers kept us from living up to preseason expectations. Replaying in my head all those innings we left men on base in scoring position, I had to keep reminding myself that there is more to life than baseball.
As the TV cameramen focused on the managers for the Astros (Dusty Baker) and the Rangers (Bruce Bochy), I found myself reliving my daughters’ childhood. Living in the Bay Area three decades ago, I introduced my three girls to my love of baseball by taking them to games in Oakland. Both Dusty and Bruce were players for the Athletics. So was future Mariners’ broadcaster Bill Krueger. Being a huge baseball fan myself, I made it my goal to get Tony LaRussa, the Oakland manager, to sign caps for my kids. And I succeeded.
While watching the painful losses to both Houston and Texas, a colleague copied me in an email he’d written to a friend about one of my recent newspaper columns. John’s friend’s name was Craig Reynolds. Since I was already in a nostalgic frame of mind and reliving baseball memories, I couldn’t help but wonder if my friend’s friend was the Craig Reynolds who had played shortstop for the Seattle Mariners in their debut season back in 1977.
I did some internet research and discovered that the Craig Reynolds my colleague knew was not a former Major Leaguer. Rather he is a local businessman running for city council in our community. My research revealed that the Craig Reynolds, who was once a Seattle Mariner, currently lives in Houston where he grew up.
In fact, after leaving the Mariners in 1977, “baseball player Craig” went on to play for the Astros for the majority of his career. Digging out my baseball card collection from the attic, I discovered my Craig Reynolds card did not picture him with the Mariners, but in an Astros’ uniform. And, amazingly, I also found I had cards for Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy and Bill Krueger in my collection.
But I digress. I located an email address for Craig Reynolds and sent him an email asking about his life after the major leagues. To my delight, Craig replied within a couple of days. His response was most gracious and informative.
Following his 11 seasons with Houston, Craig Reynolds discovered firsthand that there is more to life than baseball. Initially, he went into business with fellow Astros teammate and roommate Terry Puhl in wealth management. As an outspoken Christian, Craig incorporated the values of his faith into dealing with clients. While pursuing his career goals, Craig was pursued by a Seattle-based parachurch sports ministry to serve on their board of directors.
Pro Athletes Outreach provided a tangible network for professional athletes and their spouses to encourage balance and health in their marriages and families. In his volunteer role, Craig served with other notable Seattle sports personalities including Norm Evans (former Seattle Seahawks standout) and George Toles (former public address announcer for the Seattle Supersonics) to encourage faith formation and development among their peers.
It was during this season in his life that Craig gave a message about his life and God’s grace at Second Baptist Church in Houston. Following Craig’s talk, Dr. Ed Young, the lead pastor at that Texas mega-church, invited Craig to consider joining the church staff. That invitation given 29 years ago has found Craig Reynolds ever since in the starting lineup of a pastoral team he loves.
At age 70, the former Mariner and Astro is living his dream with his wife Josey, their three adult children and eight grandchildren. If anyone knows there is more to life than baseball, it is Craig Reynolds.
Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is a former chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.