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BRAVE IN THE BIG LEAGUES: Boyer just a good old boy at heart

ATLANTA (BP)–David Parker met Blaine Boyer earlier this season while Boyer was pitching in Jackson, Miss., for the Atlanta Braves’ Double-A affiliate. One day before a game, Boyer simply came over to Parker and his family and started talking to them. A friendship was born.

At the school where Parker’s son, Kirby, attends, the boys in fourth, fifth and sixth grades have a Bible study on the last Thursday of the month -– at 7 a.m. before school starts at 8. Parker invited Boyer to come and give his testimony.

Sure enough, that day at 7 a.m., Boyer showed up. And he brought three of his teammates with him.

“That made a big impact on the boys,” Parker said. “Blaine’s one of those kind of people that you’re lucky to know. He’s extremely open and giving, and he loves the Lord.”

Stories like that aren’t surprising to people who know the redheaded Boyer, now a rookie relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. Many of his friends say Boyer will be completely unfazed by any amount of success he might achieve in the game.

“Blaine is a very simple, down home boy,” said Tim Cash, the Baseball Chapel leader for the Braves. “There’s nothing flashy about Blaine. He’s got an old lab, a pickup truck, a place to hunt, some Third Day Christian music in his car, and he’s good to go. Give him a worn out ball cap and a pair of jeans, and Blaine’s ready to go.”

On a recent Saturday morning, Boyer helped lead a baseball clinic for boys at Johnson’s Ferry Baptist Church in the Atlanta area. He shared his testimony and provided pitching instruction. Activities like that are common for Boyer, who’s perfectly willing to talk to kids and sign autographs for people –- as long as they don’t show up on eBay the next day.

Prior to Atlanta’s game with Pittsburgh that night, Boyer visited with the Parker family, who had traveled from Jackson to watch the Braves as part of Kirby’s 11th birthday. Boyer left the family to duck into the clubhouse to find a gift.

He returned with a bat autographed by such players as Tim Hudson, Rafael Furcal, Marcus Giles and Jeff Francoeur.

Parker said his son was speechless about receiving the bat.

Well, not quite.

“It was awesome,” Kirby said.

“I’ve always felt Blaine’s a good kid,” Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. “He has a big heart. He has his act together, that’s for sure, and that’s only going to help him in his future, which is very bright.”

A native of Marietta, Ga., just outside Atlanta, Boyer is a fan of country music, hunting and reading. C.S. Lewis is one of his favorite authors, and “Mere Christianity” is his favorite book. When the Braves are on the road, Boyer typically gets up about 9:30-10 a.m. each morning and has a daily quiet time in his room praying and reading Scripture.

He’ll spend some more time reading or watching TV before going to lunch with a teammate. Then it’s on to the ballpark by around 2:30 p.m. His teammates spend much of their free time playing video games, but Boyer’s not a fan.

“I’m not a video game guy, and I thank God I’m not, either,” Boyer said. “Guys are getting addicted to these video games. I’ve always been more of an outdoors guy.”

When the Braves are at home, his schedule is much less routine –- as engagements such as the baseball clinic at the church or other community events are often on his itinerary. After the game, Boyer heads home, and usually there’s a group of buddies from high school waiting for him. They sit around and talk until the early morning hours.

“He’s just a good dude to hang out with,” Cash said. “I really don’t see fame and money and notoriety defining who Blaine is. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes in the future, but I believe Blaine feels that he’s been defined in his heart because of his relationship with Christ.”

Boyer made it to the big leagues on the strength of three pitches -– fastball, curve and changeup — and his aggressiveness. He goes after hitters and doesn’t back down. Improved command of his pitches will only lead to greater success. And Boyer agrees such success will be a test for him.

But with God’s help, he fully expects to pass.

“I don’t feel like I’ve changed since day one,” Boyer said. “Ever since the Lord’s come into my heart, He’s given me my personality. He’s given me everything that I’ve got. So I feel like the fruits that I bear are going to be for the Lord at all times, not how much success I have in the major leagues, or how much success I don’t have.”

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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