Embattled New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez recently got some surprise encouragement from a Christian baseball coach that he reportedly was responsible for getting fired in 2009. "I've been praying for you Alex," the coach told him at a chance meeting a few weeks ago.
In a blog post on Thursday, Gari Meacham, Christian writer and wife of former New York Yankees third-base coach Bobby Meacham, all but celebrated the "full circle" when she told the world how the now scorned player she once covered with her prayers forced her husband out of a job that he loved and into financial ruin.
"After spending thirty-two years in the game you begin to think that nothing will surprise you, but Bobby and I were surprised one cloudy morning in October, 2009 when we received a call from the Yankees general manager explaining that we lost our job as third base coach for the team we loved," wrote Gari Meacham. "He told us that Alex Rodriguez got us fired by complaining to the owners; citing he was uncomfortable with Bobby as a coach."
The coach's wife explained how befuddled they were by Rodriguez's betrayal.
"We were stunned… Was it because I had consoled his wife (now ex-wife) and prayed with her about the struggles she was enduring in their marriage? (A week later he was publicly paling around with Madonna…,)" she wondered. "Was it because Bobby was closer to other infielders on the team and A-Rod felt threatened? Could he sense a spiritual tug as we covered him in daily prayer; only to get thrown under the bus by the very man we prayed for?"
Gari Meacham then went on to describe how the surprise dismissal hurt her family.
"We counted a financial loss of around 1.2 million dollars as the Yankees went on to win the World Series the next year, and had many playoff appearances and pay increases in the years to follow," she said.
"We knew our hope was in the Lord, but at times it was difficult to watch A-Rod garnish a string of titles and accolades. His stunning looks and baseball presence seemed to keep him exempt from the harsh winter of reality," Meacham admitted.
But with Alex Rodriquez's reputation now completely in the gutter and his struggles to avoid a lifetime ban from the sport that brought him riches and fame, the Meachams finally found their watershed moment.
"A few weeks ago the minor league team Bobby manages for the Toronto Blue Jays had a double-header with the Tampa Yankees. And there on third base was A-Rod, nursing a hip injury as he staged a rehab stint on his way back to the big league team," wrote the coach's wife.
"Bobby has seen A-Rod in passing over the years, but this visit proved to be more. A 'full-circle' encounter if there ever was one… Alex's eyes locked on Bobby as he moved towards the coaches box next to third base. As Bobby thrust his hand out to shake, Alex lunged forward into an awkward hug. The kind of hug that lasts a bit longer and holds a bit tighter than usual," she said.
She then described how God used allowed her husband to encourage Rodriguez.
"I've been praying for you Alex" Bobby said with a warmth in his smile. "I know you're going through a lot right now and I want to tell you something."
Alex remained frozen on third base. As if time stood still, Alex leaned in to listen.
"All the things you're going through right now (drug investigation by Major League Baseball and the threat of a life-time ban from baseball) it's too much for you to handle on your own. Without God, you'll struggle to make it."
Alex listened intently as Bobby continued.
"I want you to know that you're not alone. The Lord is with you, and He won't fail you. No matter what you've done, or what lies ahead, He loves you."
Alex quietly lifted his voice as his eyes looked through Bobby; as if he was in communion with something Bobby couldn't see.
"I guess I'm learning what's really important" he whispered. "You are," said Bobby "so don't forget what God teaches you."