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CMR's Freeway Series: Angels vs. Dodgers Pt. I

Dr. Chris and Alisa Grace pose for the cover of The Art of Relationships Podcast.


Mandy Catto: Welcome to another Art of Relationships podcast. We are grateful for listeners like you. Let's get right into it.

Chris Grace: It's fun to be here again with another podcast. We always bring in special guests and it's just really fun to have some friends and some people who've been around this area for a long time, but ... Angel's chaplain and Dodger's chaplain. Jack, Brandon, thanks so much for joining us.

Jack Grogger: Yeah, thanks for having us. Yeah.

Chris Grace: So we have been looking forward to this for a long time. In fact, we're going to probably call this the Freeway Series, because how fun, you guys played what? Twice a year at least in the beginning of the season and then once in the middle.

Brandon Cash: Right.

Chris Grace: Is that right?

Brandon Cash: Yeah, usually two games at each park. Four games.

Jack Grogger: Yeah, we start the Freeway Series in the beginning but that's more of a pre-training...

Brandon Cash: Yeah, that's just a three-game series.

Jack Grogger: It's a quick one.

Brandon Cash: And then when it counts, it's two each.

Chris Grace: So we're going to talk a lot about relationships on this podcast, because it's called the Art of Relationships, so what we do is we bring in guests and then Tim and I just talk about all things relationships. Anything at all. So we're just so looking forward to having you guys share. Because I think we've had different chaplain's on this program from the Lion's and the Patriot's and other places and it's just been fascinating to talk about the pressures that professional life, that an athlete has on their marriage and on their relationship and you guys are walking with them in the middle of this. So we thought we'd spend some time visiting about that.

Tim Muehlhoff: And I would say, we speak at marriage conferences and we talk about different kind of affairs that people have. Like there's obviously the romantic affair that people tend to think of, but there's a family affair that's happening today where the family absolutely runs the marriage, and a lot of it has to do with athletics. That every weekend, family's are separated ... I had three boys that played football and basketball and they were always being asked to be on these travel teams and we did it one year and Marie and I never saw each other. It ... kids on different teams, so families are having to negotiate that and it would be great to get your insight on ... How can you balance obviously encouraging your kids in the athletic area but at the same time, balance kids. That could be an interesting thing to talk to you guys about.

Brandon Cash: Well I think ... I've thought about it both as a pastor and as a chaplain. As a chaplain, you get to see the guys who have made it and the number of guys who make it is unbelievably small.

Tim Muehlhoff: Isn't it like ... See, I just spoke with a guy named Jose Alvarez who did some minor league baseball and didn't he say that there were like 700 baseball players in the pros?

Brandon Cash: At the MLB level.

Tim Muehlhoff: So 700.

Brandon Cash: Yeah. There's a lot more if you include the minor leagues. But every year about 1500 people come into professional baseball, which means 1500 are leaving professional baseball.

Tim Muehlhoff: You're kidding.

Brandon Cash: But the number of kids that play little league, and then even beyond that into junior high. And then into high school and varsity, and then into college. It's getting smaller and smaller every year. Do you know what the ...

Jack Grogger: So for the minor leagues to the major leagues, less than four percent of those folks of those will make it to the major league level.

Tim Muehlhoff: You're kidding.

Brandon Cash: But then even that four percent gets smaller with guys who make it to arbitration, which means three years in the big leagues. And then there's another magic number, free agency, which is even smaller, and then the ten year, you know, maxed out on there ...

Jack Grogger: Yeah. So it's very finite. Very short window.

Chris Grace: I couldn't imagine the stress and pressure then. You're trying to run a family, trying to start maybe a family or relationship, and you have no assurance whatsoever you're going to have a paycheck. So let's introduce the listeners ... Brandon, Brandon Cash, you've been doing this now as a chaplain for many years, but tell us a little bit about your story and journey and how you got into this.

Brandon Cash: Yeah. I started ... So this is my ninth season with the Dodgers. And I was working with the L.A. Kings, the hockey team, was kind of how I got into sports ministry. I had a little bit of a background, I played college golf, so that opened some doors. Started working with the Kings, and after doing that for about three years, I think, Baseball Chapel, which is the ministry that organizes all of the chaplains in major and minor league baseball contacted me about perhaps working with the Dodgers. So that was ... 2011 was my first season, so I've been doing that ever since.

Tim Muehlhoff: And you still work with the Kings though, hockey-wise?

Brandon Cash: Yeah. It's not quite as organized or, you know, the interest isn't quite there as it is in baseball.

Tim Muehlhoff: I'm from Detroit. I'm a Detroit Redwings fan, so it's a bit of a Christian fellowship to be sitting so close to you. The Ducks and the Kings have caused much pain and sorrow for the Detroit Redwings.

Jack Grogger: This is the power of the gospel. This is the power of the gospel right here.

Tim Muehlhoff: Jews and Greeks coming together. Slave and free. Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Chris Grace: And Brandon, you also did your degree at Talbot here and teach a little bit.

Brandon Cash: Yeah, so I did M.Div. at Talbot '95 to '98, and then my Greek professor, his church brought me on. '98. Been there ever since, so ... I think it'll be 21 years this summer and for three years ... I think this is my third year full-time faculty at Talbot, but I still pastor, but I've cut back to part-time at the church.

Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, that's great.

Chris Grace: And your good friend Jack is joining us today as well. And Jack, you've been with the Angels now ... well, I know it's been a while.

Jack Grogger: It's been a long 13 years. A long time.

Chris Grace: And tell us a little bit about that journey. I know your full-time work also is a firefighter, and then as a pastor of a church. You're busy.

Jack Grogger: So I've been able to do the Angels ministry for 13 years. My father-in-law was actually the chaplain before me.

Tim Muehlhoff: He was an amazing man.

Jack Grogger: And he was also the chaplain for the Rams and the Ducks, when the Rams were in town way back then before they came back. And he got cancer ... He was the pastor of a church as well called Kindred Community Church, and got cancer at 46 and passed away at 48. And then a staff person from Baseball Chapel came out, did the Angels for that following year after he passed away and then I got a phone call randomly from that guy who's on staff. Asked me if I'd be interested in interviewing for the position. At the time I was a high school youth pastor and a fireman. I've been a fireman 27 years and then myself and four other men, we founded a church about seven years ago, called Sanctify Church in Orange. So I'm the lead teaching pastor there, and I do the Ducks as well. I'm in my ... just finished my second year doing that. So I've got a lot on my plate. But I love every minute of it.

Chris Grace: You've got some big shoes to fill with your father-in-law. He was loved by everybody, I think, in Orange County. Whenever I golf in y'all's tournament, the Chuck ... How do you say it?

Jack Grogger: Obremski.

Chris Grace: Obremski Tournament, and it just ... The love that they have for him.

Jack Grogger: Yeah, it's pretty amazing.

Chris Grace: So, big shoes to fill.

Jack Grogger: Yeah, big shoes.

Tim Muehlhoff: Chris, we need to get more ambitious people on the podcast. This is just so sad to see guys just ... [crosstalk] withering away. Hey, but let's talk about that! Let's talk about ... man, that sounds like a lot.

Jack Grogger: It is a lot.

Tim Muehlhoff: What you guys described. So how do you set boundaries, how do you make time for family, how do you guys do it?

Jack Grogger: My number ministry's my family. You know, prior to that, it's my relationship with the Lord. So that's got to be my priority is me and my relationship with the Lord, and then my family, and my ... my family and myself, that's the most important thing. And then it translates to doing this other stuff. So the boundaries are, I got to spend time with my family, love on my family, focus on my family, and then in those gap times, I go out and do this other ministry. Because without my family being solid, then the rest of it kind of falls apart. I become a statistic.

Tim Muehlhoff: But parse that out for us real quick. Like the devil is in the details. I'm sure we have listeners saying okay, how do you ... what does that look like? How do you actually put that in your schedule to make sure that it's happening?

Jack Grogger: Well I think one of the great things about my fireman job is I only work 10 days a month. So right now I've been off four days already.

Tim Muehlhoff: Sounds like an academic.

Jack Grogger: So my wife and I went and had breakfast this morning. We had coffee yesterday morning, I went to the golf range with my youngest son yesterday. So that fireman job gives me a lot of flexibility and so I take advantage of those times. And so I don't go back to work until Tuesday. So I'm off the rest of this week until Tuesday. So spending time with my family.

Chris Grace: Jack, this has been a journey for you, I know, and you're open about this. You know, I've been to your church, and I appreciate your story about a number of years ago, 20 years ago, you were in a very different place with your marriage and you talk about that and you're open about that and I'm sure that helps when you talk with athletes as well, and firefighters about how do you navigate the ups and downs, and you mentioned just real briefly a story that said you and your wife struggled a little bit.

Jack Grogger: Right, so, my wife and I knew each other from high school. I graduated, I was three years ahead of her, and we reconnected at a fireman's event. She was there with a friend. And we started dating and within ... we were ... We met October of '94. We were pregnant in January, married in April. So we got pregnant before we were married, and her dad was a pastor, so that was a really fun conversation. So that was a really good way to start off a marriage and because of that there was consequences. And that was, I'd say, about three years later into our marriage, we really didn't know each other. You know? We got married so fast and we had a child and we began to struggle. I didn't know who she was, I didn't know what my role was, I knew nothing of marriage. I didn't even hold ... I hadn't even held a baby before. All of a sudden now I have my own.

So, as you can imagine, my world began to kind of implode and kind of cave in, and we started to just go down a really bad road. We separated for a short amount of time and then we ended up going to counseling, but like most guys I refused to go to counseling because that was for really bad people. People that needed it, I didn't need it. So I ended up going and for nine months straight in counseling that counselor really focused his attention on me and I finally looked and my wife about the ninth month driving there and I said, if he doesn't say something about you today, I'm going to get up and I'm going to knock him out. I'm going to punch him. She's like, don't be ridiculous. I'm like no, I'm dead serious. I'm tired of it. And that was the moment right then there I realized that we're in the crisis because of me. That was my a-ha moment.

Tim Muehlhoff: But you could have kept going. You could have kept being defensive. What changed it? What was the a-ha moment?

Jack Grogger: Just realizing that the failure of my marriage was my failure in my walk with the Lord. It was just the epitome of that. Everything reeked of my failure of leading my wife, of loving my wife as Christ says. I mean it was just the pure example of the way I was living.

Chris Grace: So God uses that story, no doubt, in your journey today. How have you seen that play out? I mean, I imagine just as you share that with people around you, again, whether they're in your circle at church, whether they're in your firefighter or whether the Angels, the Ducks, whomever, it must have ... it must play very well with them because many of them find themselves in the exact same spot.

Jack Grogger: I mean ... Brandon could add onto this but from ... I would say from being the chaplain of the Angels I would say one of my biggest struggles with them is they live in a performance driven world. So everything has to be performance. And so it's either ... there's only two words for them. Success or failure. And that's the two lanes that they run in and when there's not success there's failure, and they begin to panic and things just go bad fast for them.

Brandon Cash: You've had a couple of years of dealing with that, yeah?

Jack Grogger: Yeah, yeah.

Chris Grace: That was Brandon by the way.

Jack Grogger: I've had some struggles with that, because we haven't tried to buy World Series. But anyways ...

Chris Grace: Well the Christian talons are coming out. [crosstalk]

Jack Grogger: No this is good, it's good to have a little battle.

Tim Muehlhoff: Listen, I wish the Redwings could buy back the cup. That doggone salary cap's killing us.

Jack Grogger: So yeah, it just makes me realize that when I deal with these players they look at their marriage the same way.

Tim Muehlhoff: Success or failure.

Jack Grogger Success or failure. And what are the margins that those realities live in. It's different for all of them but it's a crazy life.

Brandon Cash: Yeah, I'd even add on because their work is so performance oriented and their identity is in that and there's an unwillingness to maybe cut any corners on that area of success, they cut the corners with their family. They cut the corners with their wives. And I think the other thing, like ... I won't say his name, I don't know if you were at that event at spring training a couple years ago, but a former pitcher, very successful pitcher, World Series champion, multiple times, got up there and said that he actually said this to his wife one time. You're on scholarship, maybe you should be quiet. Speaking to the lifestyle he was giving her as a professional athlete, and he has since come to Jesus and realized ... And he was sort of giving his testimony in that, but I think that the guys who don't feel the struggle and the tension in their marriage are the guys that are headed for disaster. It's the guys ... And I'm sure you've had a lot of conversations with guys, especially when their kids come, in trying to balance being a dad and a husband ... When it's just a husband and a wife, she can travel with him, meet him on the road, baseball schedule lends itself to that because they're in a city for three or four days. But when the kids come, they can travel a little bit when they're young, but when they start school ... It seems like I have that conversation every year with a few guys because they're coming into that season of life now and trying to balance that and the guilt of not being there ... I think it weighs heavy on the guys who care about their family's.

Tim Muehlhoff: I have a friend who played professional hockey for years and years and years and a good Christian couple. He was gone all the time. I mean it's an 82 game season, he's a professional hockey player, she is basically a single parent, establishing norms in the house, she has to. But when he comes back it's like, hey, I want to have a say into the norms that you just created. And then when you make the playoffs it could be another two months of intense playoff time. And they were a great couple, they really struggled with just navigating this. And then he had an injury, a freak injury of ... he was skating down the ice and the penalty door opened and he skated right into the penalty door and shattered his face. And now they're dealing with an unexpected injury. And that's when he realized ... You have to have a foundation that's not sports related, or even for our listeners, work-related. Because that's a roller coaster you're never going to get off of. So it was interesting to see them try to negotiate this. It was ... man, it was difficult.

Jack Grogger: Yeah, I've had the conversation with some of the guys on a regular basis where the Angels are just coming home from an eight-day road trip. So like you said, the wife's been home with the kid, she's got her routine, and it's very structured, and it works for her, and then he comes home and now he's home for eight or nine, ten days, whatever he's home, and he kind of is disruptive to that. And all of a sudden you have conflict in the marriage. And that is an ongoing battle that these guys face on a regular basis of "How do I blend back into my marriage and still lead as a spiritual leader and not lose that over the years?" And that's what a lot of guys that are in this game for a long time, they've really lost their identity and spiritual leadership because they just produce the paycheck, they produce the lifestyle, as Brandon says, and then they're off on the road doing their thing, and they just look at the wife, if you do your thing, I'll do my thing, and when we come back together we'll try to figure it out.

Chris Grace: That is a tough place to be, so what's your advice? Brandon, you face this as well, Jack, what do you tell them?

Brandon Cash: Well, I think one of the things that is so lost on these guys is servant leadership. I mean literally, I was blown away. I remember walking into the locker room and seeing the trainers setting the vitamins or the medicine in each guys locker, and then one of the trainers, the conditioning coaches, putting the protein shakes in their lockers. Everything is done for these guys. And so then they go home, and if they have that same attitude, like should be doing for me, rather than them trying to serve, I think that's often a difficult thing to navigate, and it's the rare guys who are the servant leaders because I think that's just marriage in general. If a husband is taking the lead that means serving, and I think- Don Sunukjian, one of our professors here said your home is not your castle, it's your calvary. And I think that's such a great line to remember that, no, I go home to serve, not to be served. And that's a tough contrast when you're ... not just a successful athlete, but I would imagine if you're a successful lawyer or a businessmen, people-

Chris Grace: Or a podcast cohost.

Brandon Cash: Exactly, right? Tell the professor ...

Chris Grace: I mean come on. It is hard. Sometimes I show up, the water's not cool ...

Tim Muehlhoff: This is a ministry, and it is ... But that doesn't, that's not sports. That's coming home and just wanting a break. My dad was a factory worker man, he worked double shifts, and he'd just come home ... He didn't want to talk to anybody, he'd just fall asleep watching TV because he had to get up at four o'clock the next morning and we see so many people overcommitted in marriages today and couples just dry up. Some friends I knew who were athletes, his one wife just said to me, you know, I stopped being excited that he'd be home. Because it was no big thing that he was home, he was never really home psychologically.

Brandon Cash: Right. You're physically-

Tim Muehlhoff: That was interesting. It's a lot of work.

Chris Grace: So what's the process? Somebody comes to you, and they say my marriage is messed up. They probably don't identify this right away, they're just like my wife is just kind of nagging me, she's just ... you know, and I know I'm maybe not playing the right role and I should be there to pray more, but she's got to give me a break ... So you're diagnosing these things a lot in your interactions. What are trends, what are you seeing and what helps is for any man?

Brandon Cash: Yeah, I'd be curious, Jack, what your experience is. But just culturally, we live in a culture where people live together before they get married.

Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah. 50% of couples live together first.

Brandon Cash: And so professional sports is no different, and so I see there is some insecurity on the girlfriend's side of things because it's ... there isn't that commitment. Wondering ... And so I think that sort of takes their feet out from under them and be able to stand up to the guy and call him on not being present and not being a good-

Chris Grace: Because it's a tenuous relationship to being with, right? He can leave, he ... They're on scholarship.

Brandon Cash: And so that's one of things I know your wives, and you said, killing it with the ministry. But that's what one of the ways my wife has ministered to the Dodger wives and girlfriends is to sort of give them permission to feel that way, and to put some words to it.

Chris Grace: Tell us about that roll. How does she ... how does that play out for her. Is that something she wanted to do, she's grown into, how does-

Brandon Cash: Grown into. Yeah, she ... I think when we were first talking about it with ... We could probably give Cisco a shout out, he's the one who hired-

Jack Grogger: He's our boss.

Chris Grace: Yeah, you probably might want to do that.

Brandon Cash: Yeah, and so when he was talking with us about it said, you know, we like to have husbands and wives doing it together and so ... Yeah, just a weekly, or not a weekly but when they're home it ends up being about twice a month a bible study.

Chris Grace: Do you separate them out, usually? Women go with the women and men go with the men, usually.

Jack Grogger: For us, yeah, my wife does it separate. So she does a bible study like, every other week, or once a week. Depends on the wives, or the girlfriends, when they're able to do it. They'll do it at the stadium. There's is different than ours because we'll go do our chapel in a media room or a locker room ...

Brandon Cash: Yeah, we're downstairs where the players and coaches are.

Jack Grogger: Right, and then the girls will do there's up at the restaurant behind home plate, all fancy, they have a buffet. Totally different. But my wife's been able to really just kind of build these amazing relationships with these girls because there's another piece to this and that is a lot of these players on my team don't even live in California, so these wives are traveling across the country. Maybe come to California, they've never been here in their life, they don't know where schools are at, hospitals are at, things you and I take for granted. They land here, no family, no friends, they are here and just stuck and then they live here and the husband goes for ten days and he's gone.

So just imagine what that does to the wife in just feeling like, overwhelmed, and cooped up, and lost, and isolated, and all those emotions, and then you could see how over time she's going to start to harbor ill-will and anger towards him about the game. It takes you away from me, it's put me here, I don't want to be here. And so my wife tries to fill that gap and be a resource for those wives and girlfriends. And so, you know, we've got some of the girlfriends and wives that go to our church now. Some of them are playing on our church softball team, because the biggest thing we're trying to do is create a community for them, and that is the foundation of our success in the ministry is creating a community that they can identify with and it looks different from the world.

So they're ... our community has to look different from their community, and because everybody wants to be in their community all the time, live that whole lifestyle, the fancy, the travel, the glitz, the glory, but we want to show them a new community, and that's where we kind of find our success.

Tim Muehlhoff: One of my favorite stories is that we've had Dave Wilson on our podcast, he's the former ... one of the longest-tenured chaplains in the NFL, and he was with the Detroit Lions. I won't mention names, but we had a quarterback who was really highly touted, and it just didn't ... it just didn't work out. Detroit's very seldom ever gone to the playoffs, even with Matthew Stafford, who's one of the highest paid players. And so he was let go by the Lions, but he had been going to this church, and so unknown to him he shows up to church ... and this is Kensington church, this is a 20,000 person church, they have this person and it's his day. So he shows up at church and is ushered to the front of the church.

And they basically don't play football highlights, they say, hey, you did this foundation, we just want to say thank you. Here are people from the foundation to say thank you. Here's what you've done to this community, here's what you've done here and here, and it was testimonials of saying hey, it didn't go unnoticed that your life isn't football and you really added to this community and we're going to be sad to see you go. And he literally broke down crying, is what Dave said, and rightfully so, but that's what is so hard about sports or your job or your career is that's the Litmus test, whether you're actually making it and feel good about yourself. And that's a rollercoaster that you've just gotta get off of.

Jack Grogger: And one of the things I often will say to the players in a challenging way is, are you a baseball player who happens to be a Christian? Or are you a Christian who happened to play baseball? There's a big distinction there and so, you know, what to do they identify with as their foundation, and that kind of gives them some liberties because it's such a psychological game. You know, one minute you're the hero, everybody wants your autograph, and then next you're traded away and nobody ever hears from you again. So it's a very short lifestyle, very highly performance driven, and that plays and wreaks havoc into their personal lives, their professional life, their family's, their kids. And what we see is the wives end up living kind of in the shadows of their husband. And the wife feels like she's indifferent in the marriage because everywhere they go, the fans want to talk to the husband only. She finds herself kind of being pushed out, marginalized, as time goes on, and it really, it creates a huge struggle.

Brandon Cash: And I have thought about this the last couple of years. Courtney and I have talked about it is, Courtney, in our church community, my wife, was like it was a good thing, and celebrated that she was able to stay home with our kids and raise them. But in the wider culture, that's not the case. Like, generally speaking women need to have that career. And so if you have these wives who are really just for their husband's career, that's what they're doing, it's an issue that's affecting their sense of value. It should be enough just to be a wife and a husband, if their able to afford that and that's what she wants to do, but she's feeling pressure outside that she needs her own work identity, so how do we come alongside her and encourage her that no, this lifestyle, it's a full-time job, and being ... you know, as Jack said, being with their husbands and supporting them and ... So I think just the culture and the time and the season we're living in complicates that a little bit.

Tim Muehlhoff: I remember when the Detroit Redwings used to be good, I remember those times, winning the Stanley Cup, and Steve Yzerman was the beloved captain of the Red Wings and he sent all of Detroit into turmoil. We are literally in the playoffs, it's going towards game seven, and his wife is pregnant, she's going to have a baby. So Yzerman made it known, "The trainer has my cell. If she goes into labor, I'm leaving the game, I don't care if it's double overtime," and all of Detroit was like no! But so admired him for that, saying listen, this is the birth of my child, and listen, I'm going to be there. I thought that was really ... and he received a lot of negative feedback, by the way, from the media, saying yeah well, you know, then give us back the million dollars and all that, stuff like that. I thought that was an interesting line in the sand that he could draw, but I imagine that it would be frowned upon unless you're a Steve Yzerman, an icon of Detroit. That's probably pretty frowned upon.

And that's even in academia to is ... When you go into a PhD program, they're like hey, I want all of you. I don't care if you're married with kids, because we can get three others just like you, but we're taking you, that's always a hard decision to say my family is practically, functionally, going to come first and that always isn't applauded.

Jack Grogger: Right. And I think the thing, too, with baseball in that regard is it's the same mentality like hey, if you don't perform, there's 50 other guys behind you that would love to have your job and they'll just step in and do that and so we expect you-

Brandon Cash: Not just the players, but the coaches.

Jack Grogger: And the coaches, everyone.

Brandon Cash: The interns. Everyone. If an intern leaves, there's you know, a hundred college kids that want that. Doesn't matter what they pay.

Jack Grogger: So it's a very short career span. And the other thing I think, too, that's hard on their marriage is that remember, there's 50,000 fans in the stadium watching them that scrutinize them as well. You know, most of us live pretty private lives, we don't have 50,000 people scrutinizing us, so when their marriage struggles it's in the media, it's in the paper, it starts leaking out, and that adds a whole other layer of struggle on their marriage crisis. So yeah, it's just ... it's a very unique world, and I think the chaplain program of Baseball Chapel, we've been around since the early 70's, and there's over 500 of us. Every major league team, minor league team, has a chaplain assigned to it, plus we have teams or chaplains in like the Dominican, Cuba, different places.

Brandon Cash: I think Japan and Korea now too.

Jack Grogger: Yeah. So it's expanded, it's really solid. I mean, we're hopefully filling the gap and trying to keep some reality and perspective in these guys lives.

Chris Grace: Why is baseball different than some of the other sports? It seems more conducive or more ... It's like a place where you can have a role, the both of you, in the lives of people. It's almost like major league baseball has something about it, so there must be a history here.

Brandon Cash: Well, yes, Baseball Chapel got started because some players realized that they couldn't go to church. I think there's a funny story about, I forget ...

Jack Grogger Sports writer.

Brandon Cash: But there's also ... One of the Yankees back in the late 60's was a believer, a really solid believer-

Tim Muehlhoff: I doubt that's true.

Brandon Cash: Yeah. He took Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin, talked them into finally going to a church service with him and they showed up at the church service and the pastor actually stopped the service and asked to get a picture with Mickey Mantle. And so it's like those kind of stories where they're like, we need to do something at the stadium, and so this sports broadcaster ...

Jack Grogger: Yeah, out of Chicago, I think it was.

Tim Muehlhoff: And that's when it started? That's not ... so what year is that? We're talking ...

Jack Grogger: Early 70's.

Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Brandon Cash: But then what's happened is it grew into the minor leagues, and so now you have sort of this culture from rookie ball on up that hey, Baseball Chapel's available and they've been good stewards of that opportunity that they've had, and so I think Baseball Chapel have a good name, people recognize it within the game and so I think that lends itself to ... The other thing is just that baseball is such a grind that every day is game day and you can't get up for every game like you do for 12 or 16 football games, or even the hockey games, which are every two or three days ... And so the relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse, like when hockey players or NFL players come to the baseball clubhouse, they're like, I can't believe how relaxed it is. You know, like guys are talking with them until minutes before the game, and so I think that lends itself to building relationships more than other cultures, would you agree?

Jack Grogger: I think with Baseball Chapel what we can kind of ... I feel what's really cool about this story is it speaks to American history, meaning when you go back 30 years, 40 years ago, 50 years, 100 years ago, religion is a big part of our country. And when you look at the culture of baseball for the longest time I would say it's American boys playing baseball. Lot of it coming out of the Bible Belt. And so the culture of baseball in a lot of ways speaks to the foundations of our country and our faith and when these young men would come in to play a game, they brought their faith with them.

And now we're seeing even in our culture today that you know, I think we're up to about 40% of the players are from some type of Spanish speaking culture, so all of us now are looking to get Spanish speaking chaplains. And so I think that speaks to a lot of that, and when we look at hockey, you know a third of the players are from Europe, a third from Canada, a third are from the US, so it doesn't have the depth to it like baseball does. And I think that's important to recognize, where our country's come from is just in the roots of our faith, and that's huge.

Chris Grace: You guys, thanks for sharing a little bit of your story. Here's what we're going to do ... Just there's so much encouragement here for anybody, for someone who's trying to live a life that wants to bring glory, that wants to live a marriage and a relationship that is a servant type of relationship to their spouse and what you guys are doing is speaking into their lives and helping and giving them a model on how to do this. Let's continue the conversation, that sound good?

Jack Grogger: Yeah, absolutely.

Mandy Catto: Thanks for listening to the Art of Relationships. This podcast is only made possible from generous donations from listeners just like you. If you like it and want to help keep the podcast going, visit our website at and make a donation today!