Fastpitch with Father Desme

Top A's Prospect Grant Desme Enters Priesthood

Grant Desme is making it to The Show. Just not the one Nuke LaLoosh dreamed about. The decision by one of the Oakland A's top prospects -- he was considered a lock for the Majors one day -- to leave baseball and enter seminary is a story that, quite remarkably, has gotten the attention it deserves by media outlets big and small, local and national.

The AP article offered the details you would expect -- Desme is a lifelong Catholic who "kept his path quiet within the sports world" -- but without much discussion of why he felt so compelled. I particularly liked this history lesson:

"Al Travers, who gave up 24 runs during a one-game career for a makeshift Detroit Tigers team in 1912, became a Catholic priest. More recently, Chase Hilgenbrinck of the New England Revolution left Major League Soccer in 2008 to enter a seminary.

It's a good story, but I can easily image the AP's Eric Gorski digging deeper into this story. That is, if the Godbeat was still blessed by his membership.

And what about the local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, which isn't exactly known for its sensitive treatment of the Catholic Church?

Pretty good. The overall story isn't significantly different than the AP's. But the structure and choice of quotes are. It starts:

"Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more," Desme said on a conference call. "It took a while to trust that and open up to it and aim full-steam toward him.

"I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things."

The decision was entirely unexpected. Desme said A's general manager Billy Beane was shocked, and assistant GM David Forst made sure director of player development Keith Lieppman was sitting down before relaying the news.

"He was right on the verge of fame and fortune and glamour, and he's denying all that," Lieppman said. "He's going in a totally different direction. Grant said it was a very powerful call, and that's much more important."

It's interesting to see a baseball front office guy refer to someone's ministerial calling. But that pales in comparison to the quote that closes the article:

"For those of us who were never good enough to make it to the big leagues, this is a head-scratcher," one American League scout said. "But during this time in baseball when there's so much lying and selfishness and hypocrisy, I've got to say I think this is very refreshing. This is someone who has his priorities intact. God bless him."

God bless him, indeed.

Desme's move reminds me of when Fernando Tatis, the only player to ever hit two grand slams in the same inning and off the same pitcher, returned to the Majors to fund the construction of a church in his native Dominican Republic, and has a story saying that Desme isn't that unusual.

If that's true, I know one church softball league I need to stay out of.

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