Pro baseball player Spencer ‘lives his life for God’comment (0)
April 3, 2014
By Bill Sorrell
A Damascus Road experience, it was not.
“I was 7 years old. I was not a drunkard,” said Matthew Spencer of his conversion.
Nonetheless it was dramatic. “It changed my life. I knew I was going to heaven. I try to live for Him.”
On Nov. 18, 1993, Spencer was saved during a revival at Eastwood Baptist Church, Morristown, Tenn.
“It was on a Thursday night. The preacher’s name was Billy Baugh,” Spencer said. “I went to the altar and asked God to save me, and I put my faith in Him. I definitely felt like I understood and as soon as I understood, I needed to get saved.”
Spencer was also 7 when he was baptized at Eastwood Baptist.
A professional baseball player since 2007, Spencer grew up in a Christian family. His mother, Sharon Chesney, and stepfather, Gary Chesney, are Christians. His uncles Larry Seals and David Epps are Baptist preachers.
Twenty-one years later Spencer, 28, is still taking the high road with his faith.
“You are supposed to keep God No. 1. So even when you have a bad day or a really good day, God is always No. 1. You don’t get too low or too high; you keep your focus on God.”
Spencer has had plenty of good days in baseball — he got his NCAA Division 1 status at Morristown West High School. He was an All-American his senior year, all-state three times and conference player of the year. The Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 24th round (725th overall) in 2004.
He is one of the few players in the nation to play on two different teams back-to-back in the College World Series (CWS). At University of North Carolina (UNC), Spencer played outfield and was a left-handed pitcher, hit .278, belted six home runs and had 29 RBI in 2006. His 15 stolen bases ranked second on the team. He was a sophomore at UNC when the Tar Heels played for the national championship in 2006 and then transferred his junior year to Arizona State University in Phoenix.
He hit a CWS home run for the Sun Devils in 2007 — one of his biggest baseball thrills — and was a Louisville Slugger National College Baseball Player of the Week. Spencer’s stock had risen to third round where the Philadelphia Phillies drafted him 113th overall. He was traded to the Oakland A’s for the 2009 season and then to the Chicago Cubs where he spent 2010–2012 on their minor league affiliate teams.
In 2010 with Tennessee Smokies, he hit 17 home runs and batted .268. He was a Southern League all-star in 2011 with the Smokies — he played first base and pitched one game — but his skill is power hitting. He slammed 13 home runs in 2011 while batting .258. He was promoted to Triple-A Iowa in 2011 and in 2012 played with Daytona in the Advance-A Florida State League. He suited for Lancaster, Bridgeport and York in 2013 in the independent Atlantic League. Combined he hit .264 with 27 doubles.
While with the Smokies he organized baseball chapel.
“Every Sunday you pretty much get a smaller message than it would be at church, a little something to tide you over and give some strength for the rest of the week,” he said.
He reads the Bible every night and prays.
“I think about God as much as I can,” he added. “They (teammates) probably know that I am a Christian, hopefully by the way I live my life and conversations about religion. I give a Christian perspective.”
What would Spencer want teammates to say about him?
“He lives his life for God and he is a good friend.”
His own role models are his older brother Brandon Spencer, his mother and stepfather and uncles, he said. The best advice he has heard is, “Don’t put your trust in man, put your trust in God,” similar to Psalm 118:8.
“I’ve always felt like God was there for me. I’ve had a lot of obstacles. I never felt like ‘God, why did You do this?’ A couple of times in baseball, I was having a really bad day. You are in the dugout and kind of frustrated and say a little prayer, ‘God, I really need You right now.’ He has come through.”
“I’m pretty much living a dream,” he said.
There is another dream. “I dream of getting to the big leagues and doing something for God. The Lord means everything. He is pretty much why you are living and why we’re here.”