August 1, 2008

All-Star First Baseman Gonzalez Offers a Glimmer of Hope

By John Philip Wyllie

While the Padres season thus far can only be described as extremely disappointing, there have been occasional rays of hope breaking through those persistent clouds of gloom. No one has shone brighter for the Friars in 2008 than locally raised All-Star first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez. The former Eastlake High star is leading the team or is near the top in just about every offensive statistic imaginable including home runs (25) RBIs (82) slugging percentage (.518) appearances (107) walks (42) and average (.281). His defensive work at first base has been even more impressive. It’s no wonder that Gonzalez has won over legions of fans on both sides of the border.

In an era where professional athletes are all too often self-centered, overpaid and braggadocios, Gonzalez is a throwback to the golden age of baseball. His efforts off the field on behalf of the local community compliment his accomplishments on the diamond.

Prior to the start of the current season, Gonzalez returned to a hero’s welcome at his South Bay alma mater. He made quite an impression on those who met him there including Mesa League Player of the Year Jomel Torres.

“Since we retired his number here at Eastlake and we’ve seen him here a lot. I even got to do a commercial with him. Last year, when we visited Petco Park he brought us down on the field and introduced us to some of the other players. I got a chance to meet (former Padre) Dave Roberts and talk to him for a while. It was really fun. Adrian helped pay for our clubhouse and he has put a lot of time and effort into our program. He is one the reasons why we have a great baseball program right now,” the SDSU-bound Torres said.

On July 12, Gonzalez and catcher Josh Bard drove up to Poway’s Green Valley Church and spent several hours speaking at a Christian Fellowship Breakfast. There they signed autographs, fielded questions and spoke from their hearts about their faith.

“If I try to plan out what I am trying to say it won’t come out right,” Gonzalez said. “I have my testimony and then after that we just see what happens. It is the Lord that is doing the work. We all pray and whatever comes out, comes out.”

Gonzalez, who is by nature a bit of an introvert, is adjusting to his new role as a sought after public speaker.

“A lot of people take their faith and put it in their back pocket. I am out there letting people know where I stand and what I believe in. By telling people that I believe in Jesus Christ and that he is my Lord and Savior it puts a lot of responsibility on me.”

It is a responsibility that Gonzalez is happy to bear.

Earlier this year, Gonzalez launched his own website which combines information about his baseball career with information about his off the field endeavors. At readers can peruse his journal entries, ask him questions, follow his progress with the Padres and learn about his faith.

“I wanted this website to be more personal so that people can get to know where I stand in life and what my beliefs are. I also wanted it to be interactive so that people can ask me questions. A lot of kids will look at the hitting and fielding tips and send me questions that I can reply to.”

The website also lists information about upcoming events.

Among the listings is the Aug. 18 Eastlake Country Club Golf Tournament the he and his brother Edgar will be hosting to benefit the Eastlake Educational Foundation. On Aug. 27 he and his wife Betsy will be co-hosting an Autism fundraiser at the Acqua Al 2 restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter.

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