Pujols: More than the Game. Lamb, Scott and Tim Ellsworth. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011. 272 pp. $24.99. Purchase at Amazon for much less.
I am pretty sure everyone knows who Albert Pujols is in the baseball world. What you will be surprised to discover is who Albert Pujols is in the real world. Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth have crafted a powerful biography of arguably the greatest baseball player in the game today. Time will tell if an argument can be made for all-time.
Scott Lamb served as a pastor for ten years before moving to Louisville to serve as Director of Research for Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tim Ellsworth currently serves as Director of News and Media Relations at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He has written God in the Whirlwind: Stories of Grace from the Tornado at Union University and also is the editor of Baptist Press Sports. Both are life-long St. Louis Cardinals fan by the grace of God!
Divided into two parts and twenty-five chapters, we are introduced to a young Albert Pujols in the Dominican Republic just before he and his family moved to New York City and then shortly thereafter to Independence, MO. We next find Albert playing baseball in high school and college and being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round in June 1999, number 402 to be exact. Part one concludes with a look at Albert’s brief minor league career.
Part two opens with Albert being named Rookie of the Year in 2001. As you read on, you will be captivated by his on-field exploits doing things on the diamond that have never been accomplished in the history of the game. Even more, you will be amazed at what he strives to do off the field and what lies behind everything he does.
The book really does not end because Albert is really in the middle of his career if he is to play a “normal” career of about 20-25 years.
I was impressed with how the authors weaved life and baseball together on just about every page. Being able to see what makes a superstar like Albert tick is always interesting though in this case it really is not. In many biographies of living players, you will only read of the good stuff. This is not true of Pujols. While you will see a superstar who is a hero to many, and one who calls on the name of Christ as Lord and Savior, you will also see a human who gets upset and can hold a grudge. Pujols is not painted as a saint, just a sinner saved by grace trying to live in the world without being of the world.
The one chapter that felt more forced than any of the others was the chapter concerning steroids. In this chapter, the author’s list 20 reasons why Pujols could not possibly use steroids. This chapter feels more like a defense attorney presentation than a mere biographical sketch. Nonetheless, in an age where everyone is suspected of using performance enhancing drugs, I can see the necessity of showing how the “guy with all the stats” is not using steroids to be of significant importance. This is even more true given the Christianity of the man, Albert Pujols.
Pujols: More than the Game is more than a biography. It is a $25 gospel tract that will be read. Since he does put up gaudy numbers, people want to know more about him, but Pujols will tell you just as he tells countless reporters – it is not about me. He wants the whole world to know that what he does, he does because the Creator of the universe has gifted him with a special ability to hit a little white ball with a little brown stick and hit it extremely hard and far. If you are a baseball fan, you will appreciate this book. If you are a Christian, you will want to purchase extra copies to give away as it will certainly open many doors to gospel conversations that you might not have had before now. Get your copy early before this book sells out as I am positive it will skyrocket to #1 on the NY Times best-seller list just as Pujols as skyrocketed to the upper echelon of players in the history of the game.