Bass spends summer pairing baseball with Gospel message

September 8, 2010

PLAINVIEW – Calvin Bass has grown up with baseball. Calvin played all through school and came to Wayland Baptist University, where his father, Brad, is the head coach, to continue that pattern and earn his education.

So it only stands to reason that when given options for his free summer months he’d choose to play baseball. But for the past three years, Calvin has married his passion for the game with his faith as part of the Athletes in Action ministry.

Bass recently returned from his third summer on the Alfred Thunder, a team within the New York Collegiate Baseball League based in upstate New York. A second baseman for WBU, Bass was a utility infielder for the Thunder, playing mostly first or second base and designated hitter. 

He said the team played the other six teams in their division six times each, rotating around from their home venue to road trips around the state. Most of their league rivals were within a few hours’ drive from Alfred, which is located a few hours south of Buffalo near the Pennsylvania line.

The team’s routine was not unlike that of a minor league ball club which travels and plays often. But it’s what Bass’ team did off the field that made it different.

“We’d start out every morning with a Bible study for an hour or so, then we’d head to the field for pre-game stuff and practice,” he said. “Some mornings or on our days off we’d do a service project in the community or at the church.”

Most of the team attended Alfred Almond Bible Church during the summer and he said the boys got involved with various activities there such as helping with Vacation Bible School and other efforts.

A ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, Athletes in Action provides a team composed primarily of Christian players from around the country to play in the collegiate leagues. AIA has teams in New York, Alaska and the Great Lakes area.

Besides playing baseball games against the other league teams, the AIA team takes the opportunity to share student testimonies before or after their games with the other teams. Bass said since most of the players on the other league teams were not believers, that time gave them a chance to share the Gospel and their personal faith and then leave pamphlets behind with more information. He said it also opened up conversations one-on-one with those who had more questions.

Bass said the summer impacted him by being able to share his faith with peers and it reminded him that there are other players who share his faith. He said the Bible studies really helped him maintain his discipleship.

The best thing for me was the Bible study every day that helped me stay where I needed to be. Plus, our team shared the same basic beliefs, and they were there for the same purpose: they wanted to learn and grow while playing baseball,” Bass said. “For me that was exciting to see that there are other people who want to grow in their Christian faith.” 

Bass said he enjoyed making friends on the team that he can be accountable to for his Christian walk outside of the Wayland family.

“We all have our own lives at school and in the summer on the team,” he said. “I still keep in touch with a couple of the guys, and we make sure that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

“The experience has reminded me to think about what I’m doing and try to be a better example of Christ on my campus.”

Bass said he first became interested in AIA as a sophomore in high school when his father coached the Alaska team for the summer and he got to visit. He applied after his freshman year at Wayland, was named to the New York team, and has applied to return every summer since. He recently began his senior year at Wayland and will be in his third year on the Pioneer baseball squad.