By Bill Sorrell
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist
Taking a swing with his baseball bat, Stuart Turner got a hit but not where he aimed.
Splitting his eye open, he went to a nearby veterinarian to get the cut glued shut so he could get back in the game.
“I played that night,” said Turner, who was nine at the time.
A catcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts, Turner continues to play for a cut above.
“I pray that I glorify and honor Him in all that I do so others see Him and not myself,” said Turner, a Eunice, Louisiana, native. “Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He died on the cross for my sins to where I can live a Christian, holy life glorifying and honoring Him, knowing that I have a spot in heaven.”
Since he was 12, Turner has played as a diabetic. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was in the seventh grade.
“I try to stay on top of it. I try to do the best I can with managing the blood sugar. I check my glucose and take shots as needed every day,” said Turner, 24. “I have made it this far with it. I like to say that it doesn’t affect or challenge my game in any way. If you manage it, you should be good.”
As a professional baseball player he has faced challenges on the field. His 2016 batting average of .239 was not where he wanted it to be. But he did hit six home runs, scored 40 runs, had 41 RBIs and 22 doubles among his 77 hits and had an on-base percentage of .322 and slugging percentage of .363.
After winning the Southern League championship in 2015, Chattanooga, the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, failed to make the playoffs this past season while finishing 75–65. The Lookouts won the North Division title in 2014.
“It’s definitely fun to make that run in the playoffs,” he said.
“Times like through this season you experience the low of the lows. This season was one of those in the fullest sense (with) major ups and downs.
“You always pray and know that He has a plan for you. Just the game of baseball has plenty of struggles. It is a daily mental grind.”
Chattanooga third baseman Niko Goodrum said of Turner, “He is always ready to play. In ways he is the captain, controlling the pitchers, controlling the energy on the field. He is always giving 100 percent, a great effort every time.”
Turner said, “I try to be a leader by actions and let my play take over on the field and be the best catcher I can be. Sometimes it’s tough trying to control yourself and control your anger on the field but that is what I strive to do.”
During the National Anthem, Turner prays.
He hopes by his actions and the “kind of person” he is off the field that people will see that his faith is strong.
His parents, Randy and Mindy Turner, have been role models.
“They have laid the path out for me and showed me what it is like to go about my business in the right way and be a Christian. I was pretty much raised in the church (New Hope Fellowship Assembly of God, Eunice, Louisiana). I can remember going to Sunday School with my parents every weekend. They have a strong faith in Christ Jesus. I always had it instilled in me,” Stuart Turner said.
His family and friends provide inspiration.
“They want to see me succeed,” said Stuart Turner, whose strengths are “hard work and belief.”
“I think it (God’s plan) is to be at this level and continue to put His story out there. My goal is to continue to play as long as I can, be the best that I can be and let others see Christ in me and not myself. I want to be a better person and help lead others to Christ.”