The Word: It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.

Published 1:29 pm Friday, April 14, 2023

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Rev. J. Cameron BaileyThis past week, San Diego State University (SDSU) lost the men’s NCAA basketball tournament to the University of Connecticut (UConn). The game wasn’t even close. UConn dominated the entire game. Fun fact for you about San Diego State: The university’s all-time assists leader for their basketball program is Anthony Keith Gwynn Sr. A.K.A.: Tony Gwynn. Who’s Tony Gwynn (I gasp as I type that fearing some of you may not have ever heard of this man)?

Tony Gwynn is one of the greatest professional baseball players of all time. For 20 years, he played right field for the San Diego Padres (my favorite team). While at college he played basketball and still holds the record for assists with 590 (also the SDSU record holder for single season assists with 221). On June 10, 1981, the San Diego Padres and the NBA San Diego Clippers both drafted him.

Gwynn was a first-team All-American outfielder as well as a record setting point guard. He went to college to play basketball. After his freshman year, he decided to play baseball as well. Drafted by both leagues in 1981, he decided to go the baseball route and began playing in 1982 for the San Diego Padres where he’d remain for all 20 seasons. He’s named “Mr. Padre”. That’s 20 seasons, eight NL batting champion titles, 15 All Star appearances, 5 Golden Glove awards and 7 Silver Slugger awards. He was also chosen for the Roberto Clemente Award in 1999, given to the person who demonstrates “sportsmanship, community involvement and a contribution to his team.”

Gwynn was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 97.6% first ballot votes (That 2.4% who didn’t vote should be ashamed). (Stats and figures from Sports Illustrated and Wikipedia).

Tony Gwynn had 10,232 plate appearances, only saw an 0-2 count 709 times (6.9%), and his career B.A. was .338. He could have gone 0-1,199 at the end of his career and still retired a .300 hitter. One of the most consistent hitters of all time, started off in basketball…not baseball. It doesn’t matter how you start, but how you finish.

This past Sunday was Resurrection Sunday. Easter. An event we should celebrate daily. Jesus gives us a chance for change. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been like or done. God wants you. Tony Gwynn said, “What drives me is trying to be perfect.” The great news is, God doesn’t desire you to be perfect. He simply desires you. Gwynn also said, “I’m a chemistry guy. I believe you’ve got to play together to have a chance to win.”

No matter where you are in life…come home to God. Get plugged in with a team where together we can win those who don’t yet know. It doesn’t matter how you start; only how you finish. (Matthew 11:28-30).

Rev. J. Cameron Bailey is pastor of Kenbridge Christian Church. He can be reached at