Imitating the way players ran and walked made teammates think Todd Doolittle was a pretty funny guy, but imitating Jesus has made him an example to others.
“I ask God every day to open up my heart and let Him lead me in the direction I need to be going,” said Doolittle, a former professional baseball pitcher in the Florida, now Miami, Marlins organization. “Getting into (pro) baseball brought me closer to the Lord.”
From Meridian, Mississippi, Doolittle became a Christian when he was 13, led to Christ by his mother, Debbie Bresnahan. He was baptized at Northcrest Baptist Church there.
At 5’10” and 175 pounds, Doolittle said he was underestimated as a young player.
“It was a tough thing. You get looked at as a small guy, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ Sometimes it hurt when guys picked on me. I always had a big heart,” Doolittle admitted.
But playing with heart made others take notice, said Doolittle, a right-hander who pitched to his strengths.
Doolittle was all-state and a four-year starter at West Lauderdale High School in Meridian. He was 13–0 as a senior with a 0.97 ERA, 126 strikeouts and team MVP. At Meridian Community College in 2002 and 2003, Doolittle led the team in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched.
And finishing his college career playing for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Doolittle’s skills were evident once again. As a senior in 2005, he started 14 games and ended with a 5–8 record, 3.72 ERA and 66 strikeouts. He was SEC Player of the Week twice, selected as a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and named to the SEC All-Tournament Team.
After playing for Mississippi State, Doolittle signed a free agent contract with the Marlins. He played eight seasons in professional baseball from 2005 until 2012. He had a 29–23 overall record, including 3–2 in Triple-A with New Orleans, the Marlins’ affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, with an ERA of 2.93 in 24 games. His career ERA was 3.03 and career strikeouts were 454, with 42 saves.
But throughout his baseball career, Doolittle prioritized his faith, which expanded as he attended baseball chapel and formed closer relationships with teammates, he said.
Pitcher Kris Harvey was Doolittle’s teammate and roommate at Jacksonville, the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate in the Southern League, in 2010.
Harvey said Doolittle set a good example through his actions and the way he lived his life.
Another Jacksonville teammate, pitcher Jay Buente, said he was impressed with Doolittle’s strong faith by the way he put his trust “in the Lord and not in the game.”
One of Doolittle’s biggest trials came in March 2009 when he had surgery on his throwing arm. Questions entered his mind: Was he going to be out of baseball? Was he going to be released? Was he going to have to sit out a year? Would he even come back?
His faith and his arm got stronger through rehab, and he returned later that season.
“To be able to throw a pitch every day was very important,” Doolittle said. “I have had some ups and downs … a lot of downs. It was tough. I learned to be humble.”
Through the hard times, he learned to trust God more.
“It’s a big thing. You put your trust in Him [praying] that His will be done. He has a plan for everybody. There is nothing I can do that is going to change that plan for me,” Doolittle said. “I have faith knowing whether I have success or failures [if I] continue to trust in Him things are going to work out.”
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