For loyal and long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans, 108 years of frustration finally came to an end in the early morning hours of Nov. 3. Their team finally had won a World Series.
After the Cleveland Indians came back from a five-run deficit to tie Game 7 in the late innings, the final outcome was put on hold at 12:15 a.m. for a 17-minute rain delay. But even that couldn’t stop the inevitable.
With the bases loaded in the top of the 10th inning, Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist hit a two-run double, and the north-side crew held on for an 8-7 victory.
On a much quieter day in the spring of 2010, I sat with Zobrist before a spring training game in Port Charlotte, Florida, to interview him for the Christian-based sports radio program, “Face to Face.” He was wearing the uniform of the Tampa Bay Rays on that day.
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Zobrist is an outspoken Christian. The son of a pastor, one of his hobbies is reading theology. His wife, Julietta, is an accomplished Christian recording artist.
His intensity on the field is matched by his humility off the field and his leadership in the clubhouse. But Zobrist loves to talk about his faith in Jesus Christ. He came to know Christ at an early age and almost didn’t play baseball after an outstanding high school career in Eureka, Illinois.
His desire was to follow in his dad’s footsteps and become a minister.
“Coming out of high school, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing,” he told me. “I knew that I had given my life to Christ and I wanted to serve him in whatever he had me to do. Why not go and learn the Bible for a year, or maybe even four years, and go into seminary? But God had other plans. Olivet Nazarene offered me a full-ride scholarship to go there and play baseball for free.”
Zobrist played three years at ONU, then transferred to Dallas Baptist for his senior year, where he finished his college career. In 2004, he was drafted by the Houston Astros in the sixth round but traded to Tampa Bay in 2006. In 2015, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals, and last year helped lead them to a World Series title.
Amazingly, with his time with the Cubs this year, he becomes one of the few players to play on back-to-back world championship teams with two different teams. But Zobrist sees everything in his life and his career as being on God’s team.
He mentioned this in our interview.
“I think that we are all placed wherever we are to share the Gospel and the good news,” he said. “And the good news is that we can all be saved from our sins. I am grateful to be able to bring that to the game and to my teammates and to anyone I come in contact with.
“God’s given me a great platform to be able to share that, and I will do that as long as God’s given me the breath to do it.”
Zobrist, however, is not one to force his views on anyone. St. Petersburg Times writer Mark Tompkin wrote, “Zobrist doesn’t judge or proselytize, refraining from forcing his views on anyone, though willing to get involved, if asked.”
For his efforts in the World Series, Zobrist was named the Most Valuable Player, and he has become a household name to anyone who knows the Chicago Cubs and their players.
But to those who know him best, he forever wants to be known as someone who God will proclaim, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”