on life’s field
is a Major League Baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.
Schmidt, who was selected in the eighth round of the 1991
MLB Draft, made his major-league debut in 1995 with the Atlanta
Braves. He pitched for the Giants in games one and five during
the 2002 World Series against the Anaheim Angels. Last season,
Schmidt compiled the best earned run average and the fourth-most
strikeouts in the National League. He was named the National
League’s starting pitcher in the 2003 All-Star Game
in Chicago. Schmidt recently spoke with staff writer Isaac
Olivarez about his career and his faith.
PE: What was
it like for you to pitch in the World Series?
I think every kid thinks about full count, bases loaded, two
outs, game seven of the World Series. We were there. Walking
onto the field was indescribable. It was so loud. As a player,
you put everything on the line and say, “This is the
one game I’ve pitched for my whole career, and here
PE: What do
you remember most from that experience?
Obviously we wanted to win. But I don’t mope around
about it. I was blessed to be there. My mom, Vicki, had cancer,
and she was well enough at the time to be able to make it
to San Francisco. For our team to make it that far at that
time in my career was a miracle in itself, and she was able
to see that before she passed away. It would have been a better
story if we had won, but she got to see me make it all the
way to the World Series. And you know, it could have been
my last one. She got to see me pitch game one, and I think
it was perfect timing.
the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your life?
When I was younger, not having my mom was the worst thing
I could think of. A couple of years ago I told my wife that
for some reason, I felt we weren’t making Christmas
and my mom’s birthday special enough for her. She always
went out of her way so much for everybody else, and I just
didn’t feel like we were doing enough. I don’t
know why I felt like that. I just felt like I needed to take
more pictures, more videos and make things more special for
her. Then all of a sudden she was diagnosed with brain cancer.
PE: What are
some lessons your mother taught you that you will pass on
to your children?
My mom always taught me to be humble. That was always a big
thing with her — be humble and be friendly to people.
She was always kind to everybody she came across. She never
had a bad thing to say about anybody, and that’s the
biggest thing I learned from her example. She was a very giving
person. She had a huge heart. That’s something I definitely
want my kids to have. She took me to Kelso (Wash.) First Assembly
of God and taught me the importance of Christianity. She brought
me up the right way, even when I was young and didn’t
want to be in church Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday
night. I look back at those memories and I’m thankful
for the way she raised me.
PE: When did
you accept Christ as Savior?
When I was a young child at a church camp. Two days after
high school graduation I was sent to rookie league with the
Braves. I was 18. I didn’t have church anymore on Sunday
and I didn’t have church on Wednesday. I went off and
did my own thing. We had somewhat of a curfew, but I was around
all these guys who had already been in college, and they were
22, 24, 25 years old. That was my first time on my own, without
any family or anybody to answer to. For a couple of years
I went through that and it was the worst time of my life.
No doubt about it. I got so miserable. It wasn’t until
the winter of 1997 at home in Kelso that I really turned my
life over to Christ. I got down on my knees and opened a Bible
that my mom had given me a long time ago. I started reading
it, and all of a sudden everything made sense. I had read
the Bible in the past, but it didn’t make sense to me.
All of a sudden, everything clicked.
PE: Tell me
about your great-uncle, G. Raymond Carlson. (Carlson was general
superintendent of the A/G from 1986–1993.)
He married my wife, Bethany, and me in 1997. He was a man
I had always looked up to since I was young. I remember him
coming out to visit. They’d run out of their way to
get us birthday cards every year. He had a great heart for
God, and he’d call me periodically to let me know he
was praying for me. I remember one time he called and told
me, “I know you’re in Arizona right now playing
the Diamondbacks. Here’s a church you can go to if you
get a chance.” He would let me know about churches I
could go to in different cities.
PE: What do
you do to remain faithful to God while you’re on the
We have Baseball Chapel. Every team has one, and it’s
a 20-minute service. We get seven guys or so that show up
to it. They have fliers they send out every week, and we go
through different chapters in the Bible and study different
things. I also try to make sure I keep in touch with friends
of mine like Tim Cash in Atlanta and another friend of mine
in Florida, and we’ll read Scriptures over the phone.
My mom was really big in helping me out with things like that,
too. You need other people to keep you in check every now
and then because playing Major League Baseball is such a crazy
PE: How do you
share your faith with others?
Once a month we do a thing called the “J Zone.”
We get about 300-500 kids to come out. We buy them all tickets
to the game, sit in the upper deck and witness to them before
the game. Not only do they get to hear the gospel, but also
all the fans that are walking by get to hear. That’s
just one of the things that, when I’m a little down,
motivates me back into the Word. When we don’t have
church, that’s always there for me. When you get a chance
to witness to other people, it really brings your spirits
up. Witnessing makes me pick up my end of the bargain a little
PE: What is
the career highlight of your life?
I used to tell everybody it was the World Series. But after
my mom passed away, I flew back to San Francisco and pitched
against the Chicago Cubs. I really didn’t know what
to expect. I had so many emotions. It was a very tough time
— it still is. But I went out and threw my first shutout
of the season. [He struck out a career-high 12 batters in
the 5-0 victory over the Cubs.] For me, that was something
that I felt like I did for my mom.
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