Banquet blessed with O's presence

June 15, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

Major League Baseball players don't get many days off during the 162-game regular season.

That designated hitter Luke Scott and starting pitcher Brad Bergesen of the Baltimore Orioles were more than willing to spend their off day Monday at the Hagerstown Area Church Softball League's annual banquet at Tri-State Fellowship, well, that says a lot about the event -- and the faith and character of those two players.

"It is valuable free time, but I know what's important," Scott said. "I'm honored to be here. It's a blessing. God blesses us. He doesn't want us just sitting in our houses. I'm blessed to be playing in the major leagues. This is the least I can do.

"When I go to heaven, I'll have all the rest I'll need."

Scott, Bergesen and former Orioles pitching great Scott McGregor were the featured speakers at the banquet. They mixed their Christian testimonies with baseball stories.


Scott, in his second season with the Orioles, is off to the best start of his five-year big-league career, batting .314 with a team-high 14 home runs and 36 RBIs. He has been on a tear since May 28, when he came off the 15-day disabled list after recovering from a strained left shoulder.

"I was doing well, hitting .303 with five home runs and 15 RBIs, and then the DL happens," Scott said. "Whether we're Christians or not Christians, we're going to face adversity. And for a lot of people, that would have been very detrimental."

Scott said he worked hard while he was on the DL. More importantly, he said he prayed, and his friends and family prayed for him.

"The first thing out of my mouth was that He can make it up to me in a week, no problem," said Scott, who hit six home runs in his first four games off the DL and earned American League Player of the Week honors.

McGregor, an ordained Pentecostal minister who has spoken at the banquet several times, got Scott to join him last year. This year, Scott invited rookie Bergesen to join them.

"To be able to come in here and have fellowship with all my brothers and sisters is a great thing," Bergesen said. "Any time you have an opportunity to do something like this, as a believer in Christ or follower of Christ, you jump on it."

Bergesen, 23, is one of the Orioles' many young, potential stars. He is 4-2, tied for the team lead in wins with a team-best 3.79 ERA. On Sunday, he pitched his first complete game in Baltimore's 11-2 win over Atlanta.

While the Orioles' future certainly seems brighter than it's been in recent years, Bergesen won't get too far ahead of himself.

"I'm the type of guy, especially being a rookie, I don't like to look that far ahead," he said. "I just look forward to my next start."

That will be Saturday night in Philadelphia against the defending World Series champion Phillies.

Even Andrew Yacyk, a die-hard Phillies fan and the star of Federal's Little League World Series team last year, said he will have trouble rooting against Bergesen. Yacyk was one of several players on hand Monday from last year's Federal team, which was honored at the banquet.

"I'll be rooting for him, but I'll still be rooting for my Phils," Yacyk said. "It'll be cool to see him pitch on TV after seeing him here."

Thanks to McGregor, more Orioles surely will make the trip to Hagerstown for many softball banquets to come.

"When I retired from baseball in 1988, I was involved in a church softball league," McGregor said. "I was the commissioner, and I was putting it all together. And we saw a lot of lives change. So my heart is definitely here with this. This is a wonderful thing that's going on."

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