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OPINION

SPORTS: Albert Pujols' faith explored in new biography

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The beginning of baseball season has always been an exciting time for St. Louis Cardinals fans Tim Ellsworth and Scott Lamb.

Their new biography, "Pujols: More than the Game" from Thomas Nelson Publishers, makes this spring especially exciting for Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University and editor of BP Sports, and Lamb, director of research for the president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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Ellsworth and Lamb's book details the baseball side of Pujols, arguably the best hitter in Major League baseball, but it also digs into the Christian walk of the Cardinals star.

While much has been written about Pujols' baseball abilities, Ellsworth noted that little has been written about his faith and the top priorities in his life.

"I've always had an appreciation for what Albert Pujols has done on the field," Ellsworth said in describing his motivation to write about a player almost certain to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame after his playing days.

"But the more I followed him, the more I became aware of the man behind the persona -- a man who is a devoted Christian, a faithful husband and father and a generous benefactor who uses his status as the best player in baseball to enrich the lives of others," Ellsworth said.

While Ellsworth and Lamb were unable to talk personally with Pujols, they researched numerous articles and interviews involving 30-40 people, including the director of Pujols' foundation which helps a number of charities.

"He has used his position to be a blessing to others through his foundation," Ellsworth observed. "He is a fine example for other athletes and young men to try to emulate. We thought his story should be told."

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Lamb said that while he has always been a Pujols fan, "my esteem of him grew" through the book-writing process.

"There's a lot of material that didn't make it into the book -- for one reason or the other - that, when added up, really made an impact on me," Lamb said of Pujols, who attends West County Community Church near St. Louis, a Missouri Baptist Convention church.

Thomas Nelson, which released the book in February, calls it the first full-length biography about Pujols, tracing his early life in the Dominican Republic, his move to the United States as a teenager, his rise to stardom, his take on the steroid era in baseball, his philanthropic efforts and above all, the role his Christian faith has played in his life.

Joe Posnanski, senior writer at Sports Illustrated, wrote the foreword for the book, which also has earned recommendations from former Cardinals second baseman Tommy Herr, World Magazine Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Union University President David S. Dockery and Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., among others.

"Lamb and Ellsworth have given baseball fans everywhere a truly outstanding baseball book about the greatest player in the game today," Dockery wrote in a pre-release review that described the biography as "an inspirational book about character, commitments, faith and family."

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Mohler said that Lamb and Ellsworth "really help us to understand Albert Pujols, not only as the baseball player, but as the Christian. And in that sense, they help us to understand the gospel as well, and how, indeed, in the life of a great athlete, the gospel of Jesus Christ can become so visible."

Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (www.tnbaptist.org), newsjournal of churches affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Mark Kahler of Union University contributed to this article. "Pujols: More than the Game" is available at LifeWay Christian Stores and at Amazon.com.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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