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Major-leaguer Josh Willingham ‘the real deal’

Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham visits with Mike Lane, his coach at Northern Alabama, before Friday night’s game. (photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Blogging live from Washington
From where I sit, I can see the U.S. Capitol dome in the distance. Even better, I can see home plate down below.
I’m in the press box at Nationals Park, home of Washington’s major-league baseball team.
This afternoon, I interviewed left fielder Josh Willingham, a faithful Church of Christ member who attends the Cross Point congregation in Florence, Ala., in the offseason.
While I talked with Josh in the clubhouse, Nationals catcher and future Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez took swings in a nearby batting cage. I confessed to Josh that I’m a longtime Texas Rangers fan and that Pudge is one of my all-time favorite players.

Bobby Ross Jr. on the field before Friday night’s game. (photo by Erik Tryggestad)

When Pudge finished hitting, Josh introduced us and we exchanged a few pleasantries. Very cool (for a baseball fan)! I hope they don’t revoke my media credentials for stargazing …
Coincidentally, Josh’s college coach, Mike Lane, who spent 25 seasons at the University of Northern Alabama, is at the ballpark this weekend to watch Josh play. We met on the field during batting practice, and I asked coach Lane about Josh.
“He’s the real deal,” coach Lane said, referring not to the former Northern Alabama star’s baseball talent but to his Christian faith and character.
Look for my interview with Josh — and Erik Tryggestad’s photos — in a future issue of The Christian Chronicle.
Erik and I are in the D.C. area this weekend for the Associated Church Press awards banquet Saturday night.
While we’re here, we plan to work on a few other Chronicle stories. Stay tuned.
And now, batter up!

Erik Tryggestad takes photographs at Nationals Park. (photo by Bobby Ross Jr.)

Filed under: News Extras Travel Reports

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