I knew two things about Ben Zobrist before I read his collaborative memoir with his wife, Julianna.
One, Zobrist plays for the Tampa Bay Rays, one of my beloved Red Sox’s arch rivals. Two, He’s a great fantasy baseball player, as a second base, shortstop, and outfield-eligible player.
But now I know two things that are significantly more important.
One, Ben and Julianna Zobrist love and trust in Jesus Christ for direction in their lives. Two, the Zobrists have worked through their exploration of love and marriage with hearts that are scarred by the “worse” but focus on the “better.”
DoublePlay follows in a long line of sports memoirs that narrates a player’s rise through adolescence and the minor leagues until they make it to the big time. But unlike many of the memoirs, the focus is not on the big time (which doesn’t come until the last quarter of the book) but rather the courtship and marriage of the Zobrists.
Comparable in tone and delivery to Coach Tony Dungy’s books about life and faith, the Zobrists narrate Ben’s rise to stardom and Julianna’s development as a Christian pop sensation. From the outside looking in, it’s all gravy, right? But as with most stories, there are the moments of insecurity and actual trouble that the two experienced, from an early sexual assault in Julianna’s childhood to Ben’s adulthood anxiety attacks. No, this isn’t as flamboyant as the troubles of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton, but it’s more realistic for us “non-stars” to wrap our minds around.
By the end of the book, I was reflecting on my own marriage and witness, and considering the ways that I needed to be more humble, more self-less. It’s a testimony to the way that Mike Yorkey helped shape the Zobrists’ story for us to read it, but even more, it’s a witness to the life that the Zobrists live.