Former Yankee Star Bobby Richardson Shines for Christ

By   •   November 5, 2009

Members of the New York Yankees are surely basking in their 2009 World Series championship this morning, enjoying a winning legacy that dates back to 1923. That was the first time the Yanks brought home their first of 27 World Series titles.

In the 1950s and ’60s, their string of wins was almost unparalleled. Second baseman Bobby Richardson was part of that dynasty, playing with the Yankees from 1955 through 1966.

He won three World Series (1958, 1961, 1962) of the seven he played with the Yankees (1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964).

Hardly moving from his position, Richardson caught the final out of the 1962 Series, snaring a screaming line drive off the bat of Willie McCovey, which, if it had been two or three feet higher would have won the Series for the San Francisco Giants.

He was named World Series MVP in 1960 when he helped the Yankees against the Pittsburgh Pirates, although the Yankees ultimately lost. To this day, Richardson remains the only World Series MVP selected from the losing team.

But Richardson’s true legacy is a champion for Christ. In August of 2009, Richardson visited the BGEA office and shared his story with the staff. You can read his story following this videos, showing Richardson in 1965, at a Billy Graham Crusade in Honolulu.

In His Own Words: Bobby Richardson’s Story
I was fortunate to have been with Billy Graham in several Crusades over the years and share what a great time I had playing with great players. It was a wonderful opportunity, and just for a moment today, I will share just a little bit of my background, my testimony.

I grew up in Sumter, South Carolina. As a boy of 14, my mom invited our pastor to come over to our home on a Sunday afternoon. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to be outside playing basketball. But I was ushered in and he opened his Bible, and he started sharing verses like when Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

He then turned to Romans and pointed out the Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. I knew that in my life I had displeased God in many ways, and he pointed out the penalty involved…the wages of sin is death…eternal death. But then he shared the Good News that Christ died for my sins. He was buried. He rose again the third day according to the scriptures

That day, as a young teenager, I made a decision to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, repenting of my sin, and receiving Him as my own personal Savior.

The verse to seal my decision was John 1:12, “But as many as received Him in Jesus Christ to them gave He power to become the sons of God even to those that believe on His name.”

An Exciting Life
I’ve played in over a hundred old timer’s games in the last 45 years since I’ve been retired. I was in New York just over the weekend playing and coached in the old timer’s game. But the Christian life is more exciting.

Your name may not appear down here in this world’s hall of fame. In fact, you may be so unknown that no one knows your name. The trophies, the honors, the flashbulbs may pass you by, and neon lights of blue, but if you love and serve the Lord then I have news for you.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is only good as long as time shall be, but keep in mind God’s hall of fame is for eternity. This crowd on earth, they soon forget the heroes of the past. They cheer like mad until you fall, and that’s how long you’ll last, but in God’s hall of fame but just believing in His Son inscribed you’ll find your name.

I tell you friend…I wouldn’t trade my name however small that’s written there beyond the stars in that celestial hall for every famous name on earth our glory that they share. I’d rather be an unknown here and have my name up there.

ANOTHER YANKEE IN CHRIST’S COURT

On Nov. 4, 2009, Mariano Rivera pitched the final five outs in the Yankees’ World Series-clinching win. It was Rivera’s fifth World Series Championship, but, as he explained during a My Hope broadcast in Venezuela Oct. 1-3, 2003, such victories don’t compare to knowing Christ.

My interest in baseball began when I was 18 years old. I am from Puerto Carmito, Panama, and I had an excellent childhood. If I had not had the opportunity to become a baseball player, I would have wanted to be a mechanic. I love cars, and I wanted to be somebody.

When I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Yankees, I couldn’t believe it. As I went to pick up my visa and airline tickets, I knew that my life was taking a different direction.

When I first played with the New York Yankees and found myself at the stadium, I couldn’t believe it. It was an awesome thing to wear their uniform. I was thankful to God, because He made my dream come true. However, my dream was not only to play with the Yankees but also to stay with them. God fulfilled that dream, too.

It is OK to be successful and to have money–but not to fall in love with it. Money is not everything. I know a lot of people with money and fame who are bitter because they don’t have Christ in their hearts.

Apart from Christ we are nothing. You have to know Him as your Savior and Redeemer, and then your life will change. Before, I was lost in the world, but when I met Jesus, my life changed.

My faith in Christ is the best thing in my life. I have placed everything I have in Him. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, NIV). Everything I have is because of Him. For me, there is nothing better than Christ.

Taken from the December 2003 issue of Decision magazine, ©2003 BGEA.

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