James On the Cusp: Casey Sadler of the Indianapolis Indians

Not many professional baseball players have emerged from Western Oklahoma State Community College. Casey Sadler is the exception. Drafted in the 25th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, he also had long odds of getting to the majors. But on May 2, 2014, Sadler came out of the bullpen for the Pirates against the Toronto Blue Jays, making his major league debut. On April 15, 2015, he got his first major league start and a win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Recently, I sat with Sadler in the dugout of the Indianapolis Indians, and he told me about the confidence that has guided his career. I always thought I would make it, he said. I had faith in myself and faith in my talent that God had put me in a position to glorify him.

Sadler has shuttled back and forth between the Pirates and their Triple A farm club in Indianapolis, but he seems to be on the cusp of a major league career. He has been the Pitcher of the Year two straight years with the Indianapolis Indians. More importantly, Sadler wants the world to know about his faith. He grew up in the small town of Ripley, Oklahoma. His parents were youth pastors, and Sadler first found Christ when he was 12. But it was in 2012, that his faith really turned a corner. While attending a Pro Athletes Outreach conference with his wife and other baseball players, he heard a talk by the speaker, Francis Chan. He and his wife both decided to be baptized and rededicate their lives to Christ. As a result of that service in the hotel pool in Key Biscayne, Fla. his spiritual life took on new meaning.

Christ is everything, he said. Without Him and without God, we have nothing. You have to have something to fall back on. There is a greater reason other than baseball why we are here.”

Sadler also feels fortunate to be part of the Pittsburgh Pirates, an organization that puts a strong emphasis on Christian values. He says there are people in the front office and many players who have Christ in their lives. Our chapel is full, he says. It’s different being in an organization, where at every corner, there’s someone who is a believer, who is willing to sit down and talk with you. The leader of this is the manager, himself, Clint Hurdle, a recent Christian convert, who sends out a daily Twitter feed that includes Scripture as well as quotes and stories from prominent Christians. Sadler also mentions that Scott Mitchell, the pitching coordinator for the Pirates, has been a real spiritual inspiration.

Sadler’s own Twitter account makes a statement. Reading it, I recognized the opening lines of an old hymn. Living he loved me, dying he saved me, buried he carried my sins far away. The tune from Casting Crowns is a little different than what I remember, but the words carry the same impact. Sadler emphasizes our role in life when he says, No matter what God calls you to do, whether it is a baseball player, or a pastor, or a sports talk show host, you have to remember that God has put you there for a reason, and that reason is to glorify Him.

As of this writing, Sadler is still with the Indianapolis Indians, but he is not discouraged. His favorite verse is Romans 11:36, For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. With that focus, Sadler is certain to be a success, and an inspiration no matter what his statistics are.

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