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MBTS hosts Royals managers in chapel

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Trey Hillman, manager of the Kansas City Royals, said during a Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel service that it’s by the grace of God he ever became involved in baseball.

More than 300 people from the seminary and the Kansas City community turned out to hear Hillman and Dayton Moore, general manager and senior vice president of baseball operations with the major league team, give their testimonies on campus April 24.

Hillman was named manager of the Royals last fall after managing the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, where he turned a historically unsuccessful Japanese franchise into a perennial contender. His team won the Pacific League championship in 2006 and returned to defend their title in last year. His team also won the Japan Series and Asia Series in 2006.

Having played other sports growing up, including gymnastics, football and basketball, Hillman told the seminary audience, “I have always desired to play baseball, probably since the time I could walk.”

A native of Arlington, Texas, Hillman thought he would never be able to achieve his dream after going undrafted in his junior and senior years of high school when he had been told he was going to be drafted in the second round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“So I had to deal with some disappointment,” he said. “I had some quiet time with God one day. I said, ‘Lord, I really don’t understand why You’re not allowing this opportunity to provide the best possible platform for what I’m passionate about [and to let me] be a good steward and a good witness for You. I want You to utilize me and my life with baseball to be able to do the things You want me to do for Your Kingdom.'”

A couple of days later, Hillman received a phone call from Joe Kline, general manager of the Cleveland Indians, for a job interview. Soon after that, he was on a plane to New York to start his professional career.

Behind his love for baseball, Hillman said, was a Christian upbringing.

“I grew up in a Christian home with wonderful parents — a lot of advantages that people don’t have,” he recounted. “I accepted Christ when I was 13 years old. I taught myself to play guitar for the sole purpose of leading music ministry in high school and college for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”

Moore, a native of Wichita, Kan., said during his chapel testimony that he was amazed by the scrutiny of the media when he arrived in Kansas City to take his current job in 2006.

“For me it is a daily walk,” Moore said. “… Really, when I’m in the Word is the only time when I feel complete. When I’m not, it can really get out of control a little bit because there are a lot of pressures, but I try to keep it in perspective.”

Moore said just knowing he has a good purpose on earth keeps him going.

“What we’re doing is simply just a platform,” Moore told the seminary audience. “We’re not going to write books about Dayton Moore. I’m just a man on this earth with a particular time and group of people that I care about.”

In 2006, the Atlanta Braves 400 Club presented Moore with its Ivan Allen Jr. “Mr. Baseball” Award, given to “the person who has contributed significantly to the promotion of baseball in the Atlanta area” when he worked for the franchise. He also was awarded the 2005 Executive of the Year by the Mid-Atlantic Scouts Association. He was named by Baseball America in 2005 as one of the Top 10 Up-and-Coming Power Brokers in Major League Baseball, and in 2004 he was named the top general manager prospect by the same publication.

A leader in the Kansas City community, last year Moore was named to the board of directors of the NAIA’s Champions of Character program, which promotes an understanding of character values in sports and provides practical tools for student athletes, coaches and parents to use in modeling exemplary character traits.

“The most important thing is you’ve got to be reminded that your team is at home,” Moore said. “I’ve got a responsibility to be a great husband and a great father and use the gifts that I’ve been given to glorify our Savior.”

Hillman agreed with Moore about the importance of their homes no matter where baseball may take them.

“It’s simply impossible without the women in our lives,” Hillman said. “There are different types of gifts from God, but there is no more precious gift from God than a wife. It is my responsibility to continue to be the spiritual leader even when we’re separated.”

Moore told the seminary audience he frequently finds himself reviewing Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourself.”

“We who are in a leadership position know [that] so many people do things for you all the time, and I try to reverse it all the time,” Moore said. “I know in [the Book of] Matthew the greatest among you must be last. That’s how you build a strong, great organization. That’s what we want for Kansas City Royals — to be the greatest team in the history of the game. That’s our goal. That’s what we’re trying to do. You can’t do that unless you have people in leadership positions with that type of influence and that type of heart.”
Amelia Hendra is the communications director at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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