Review: Intentional Walk: An Inside Look at the Faith that Drives the St. Louis Cardinals by Rob Rains

An inside look at the faith that guides the all-stars.

The St. Louis Cardinals have long been one of the most successful franchises in the major leagues. They have won 11 World Series titles and some of the most famous players in the history of the game have worn the storied “Birds on the Bat” uniform.

While that on-field success has been well documented, Intentional Walk is the first book which goes beyond the story of what happens on the field to take an in-depth look at the men inside the Cardinal uniforms, and examine how their strong Christian faith is one of the driving forces behind their success.

Intentional Walk features the stories of Adam Wainwright, David Freese, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Jason Motte and other members of the 2012 Cardinals, written as those players and the rest of the team tried to repeat the 2011 world championship. The book talks about how they became Christians and offers their testimony about what it means for them to have God play such a prominent role in their lives.

Playing for first-year manager Mike Matheny, a strong Christian as well, these men talk about their success and failure, about the challenges that come from playing baseball at the highest level, and how thankful and blessed they are to have that God-given ability. In the end, however, what is far more important to them is their life-long relationship they have established with Jesus Christ.

When I saw this book available on BookSneeze, I jumped at it. My husband is a life-long Cardinals fan [both of his parents grew up in St. Louis and he still has family there]. I’m a more recent convert, but still well over a decade. I grew up in Phoenix, before there was baseball there. We lived in St. Louis during the 1998 home run craze. Despite later revelations, it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement.

Since then, I’ve been a fan – more rabid at times than others – and insanely jealous when hubs gets to go to playoff games [or All-Star Games at Busch Stadium] with a friend who has connections to the local AA team here in Springfield, MO. You know. When he sat and watched one of the greatest comebacks in World Series history with a rally squirrel between them.

Sigh.

I sit at home and watch. And yell at the television. And at the phone when I can’t get through because 40-50 thousand people are all trying to use their phones at the same time.

So… I’d known for years that many members of the Cardinal family are also men of faith. Seeing their stories written here had little to do with baseball and more to do with the men behind the baseball [or the microphone as the case may be] and their faith in the One who gave them their abilities.

I’ve long been a Mike Matheny fan and it’s nice to see his leadership extends beyond behind the plate and in the dugout. One of the catching greats [particularly as it related to handing his pitchers] now coaching inarguable one of the greatest catchers in today’s game in Yadi Molina [I <3 Yadi!].

Each chapter focuses on a different member of the Cardinals organization and their journey through life and baseball and what God has asked of them. One recurring theme is that God’s plans and our plans aren’t always the same but, in the end, God only has our best interests in mind.

I don’t often review non-fiction, but this is the first of several to come in the next few months.

Overall rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars – it’s easy to pick up and read a chapter here and there, and inspiring to say the least

Thanks to the publisher and BookSneeze for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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