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Flynn provides inspiration for baseball players

Sharing some sage advice at a Fellowship of Christian Athletesbreakfast in Millington, Tenn., former Major League Baseball secondbaseman Doug Flynn stressed the idea of sticking to a goal andachieving it. Flynn was addressing several teams and their coacheswho were in town for the NJCAA Division II College World Series. Herealized the generation gap, but his message touched the hearts andminds of old and young alike.

An undersized utility infielder with Cincinnati’s Big RedMachine, Flynn displayed the two World Series championship rings hehad earned with the Reds. Basically, he hung onto his dream,despite the odds.

After three seasons with the Reds, Flynn was part of the4-player trade for pitcher Tom Seaver. Given the chance to playevery day, Flynn won a Gold Glove award with the Mets. After threeyears in New York, he closed out his 10-year career playing forMontreal, Texas and Detroit.

“I appreciate you being here this morning,” said Flynn. Co-Linhead coach Keith Case made sure all of his players were present.The Co-Lin bus had left the motel at 7:15, arriving first in linefor the 8 a.m. breakfast.

Flynn, a Kentucky native, originally had signed a basketballscholarship with the University of Kentucky. After one season withthe Wildcats, he realized his skinny, 5-foot-9 frame was bettersuited for baseball.

“Those guys were huge,” said Flynn. “I didn’t have much of achance.”

Baseball was a different story. He transferred to Somerset (Ky.)Community College and began concentrating on baseball. He and twoof his college friends took a gamble and attended a Reds tryoutcamp, borrowing a glove and baseball cleats.

Flynn had a .250 batting average in the minors but opportunityfinally arrived. During his time in Cincinnati, Flynn paidattention. He honed his defensive skills, learning from standoutsPete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Dave Concepcion. He alsowatched Johnny Bench, Caesar Geronimo and George Foster swing thebat.

“My glove kept me in there,” said Flynn. After his trade to NewYork, he became the second highest paid second baseman in the Bigsat that time. He was living a dream.

“In 1984, I realized there was more to life than baseball andmoney,” said Flynn. “There was something missing from my life. Idiscovered I needed a relationship with Jesus Christ to help mewith daily problems, like injuries, finances and family.”

Besides a strong spiritual life, Flynn stressed the importanceof “surrounding yourself with people who love you and supportyou.”

Flynn said, “God gave you the ability to play baseball. Gofull-bore, wide open, whenever you play. But after it’s over, giveGod the glory.”

A week earlier, Flynn had spoken to a group of young Marines atCamp Lejune. “When I look into the eyes of you guys, I see the eyesof the soldiers I spoke to last week.

“Baseball is a wonderful game,” Flynn continued. “I know rightnow there are some young people putting 80 pounds of gear on theirback to fight for freedom in lraq and Iran. They would love to behere playing baseball like you guys, going for a nationalchampionship.”

Madison begins FCA ministry

Keith Madison followed Flynn to the podium at the First UnitedMethodist Church of Millington. The former UK baseball coach hasstarted a sports ministry after 25 years coaching the Wildcats.

Madison and his wife, Sharon, have launched an FCA Baseballministry. His first short-term mission was in the DominicanRepublic where baseball is king.

Madison conducted baseball clinics for over 2,500 Dominicanyoungsters, most of them barefoot and shirtless. He plans on makinga return trip in November. With God’s help, he is collectingbaseball gloves for the boys. With each glove Madison wants toinclude a Spanish Bible.

The FCA Baseball ministry is a new endeavor. Madison and hiswife want to conduct FCA seminars at every national baseballtournament on the horizon. She helps by ministering to coaches’wives, writing newsletters and helping with e-mails. The Madisonscan be contacted at 305 Drake Ln. Wilmore, Ky, 40390 or by e-mailat kmadison@fca.org

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com