Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A New Seminarian

Jeff Fletcher over at
Major League Baseball Fanhouse
has a interesting article up this week on a pro baseball player who is giving up his career to study for the priesthood.

The A's have been desperate for power in the lineup, and now they are losing one of their top power prospects ... who is apparently going to follow a higher power.

Grant Desme, who hit 31 homers in 2009 in Class-A, is retiring from baseball, and he plans to pursue a life in the priesthood.

"Last year before the season I really had a strong feeling of a calling and real strong desire to follow it," Desme said. "I just fought it. As an excuse I went into this year as a test, to see, just hoping and praying about it. As the year went on, God blessed me, and I had a better year than I could have imagined, but that reconfirmed my desire because I wasn't at peace with where I was at."
Desme, 23, rocketed up the A's organizational depth chart. On the heels of an MVP award in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, Desme was named the No. 8 prospect in the A's system by Baseball America.

"Every time I saw the guy he was hitting the ball off the wall or over it," a scout who saw Desme in the Arizona Fall League told FanHouse. "He was a good hitter. He'd have been a major leaguer for sure."

The scout went on to say that Desme had the talent to be an "occasional All-Star."

Still, when Desme played his final game in Arizona, he said he knew that his future was not in baseball. He applied to a seminary in Southern California, and he was accepted this month. Desme told A's general manager Billy Beane of his decision on Thursday.

"I was interested to see how I'd react, knowing that when I was done with the call, I'd be done with baseball for the rest of my life, and I experienced a great amount of peace," Desme said. "It reconfirmed my decision."

Desme said the A's were surprised, but supportive.

Desme obviously did not come upon this decision quickly. He said he grew up Catholic, with a strong religious background. A 2005 letter he wrote to the Daily Mustang, the student paper at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, illustrates the point.

Desme said the seeds of this decision were sown in 2008, when he missed much of the season with an injury. A lifelong Catholic who grew up with a strong religious background, Desme said the injuries "were the biggest blessing God has ever given me. Baseball has always been my life, defined me... When baseball was taken away from me, it was a shock. I did some soul-searching of who I was and who I wanted to be, and this is where it's led me."

Although someone on this track might seem to be out of place among a bunch of minor league baseball players, Desme said he actually enjoyed the chance to help influence his teammates.

"Whenever I was able to talk to someone about God, or help someone, that made coming to the ballpark more enjoyable," he said. "I looked forward to that."

Now, Desme faces what he said is a 10-year path to becoming a priest.

"It's like I'm re-entering the minor leagues."

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