Ben Zobrist may now be the most famous person in Chicago after he led the Chicago Cubs to a historic championship in the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.
The Cubs scored a come-from-behind 8-7 victory in 10 innings against the host Indians in Cleveland to win the Commissioner's Trophy after 108 years of futility. Zobrist scored the go-ahead double in the 10th inning and was named the World Series Most Valuable Player.
As millions of people celebrated the Cubs' championship in Chicago on Friday, the focus was on Zobrist, who is considered as "one of the more outspoken Christians in professional sports." In fact, even before he transferred to Chicago from Kansas City, which won the World Series last year, Zobrist already expressed his desire to become a "missionary " in baseball.
Amid the celebration, the words Zobrist spoke years ago still reverberate. In a 2013 interview with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as reported by Christian Examiner, Zobrist said, "We know that as a Christian athlete, people are watching, and so we want to be the best example that we can be."
"But at the same time, I want people to know that grace is for everyone. We all need grace. We all need Christ.... That is the message the whole way we look at everything in our lives," he pointed out.
Zobrist is the son of a pastor in central Illinois. Although he was raised as a Christian by his parents, he admitted that during high school he allowed sports to become an idol in his life, according to the Christian Chronicle.
"I was so engrossed in my sport I wasn't thinking about the future from God's standpoint. I was thinking about just my sporting future," Zobrist said.
But he eventually realised that he needed a change and to put God first in his life.
"I hit my knees and I went to him with that and I said God I want to do what you want. I don't want sports to be an idol in my life," he said.
Zobrist said he told God he would be willing to give up sports completely if that's what He wanted him to do.
On the night he was drafted by the Houston Astros, a major league team, in 2004, he "pledged to his clergyman father to represent God and be a missionary in baseball," according to the Chicago Tribune.
Zobrist is married to Juliana, a popular Christian singer with a successful career of her own. They are bonded by their dedication to their faith and their hopes of raising a Christian family together.