Lookouts’ first baseman Rooker says faith guides him

In Brent Rooker’s first year in professional baseball, he was on a road trip with his Fort Myers, Florida, team but his uniform was not.

Having left it behind, Rooker had to scavenge for extra uniforms.

“It wasn’t a really good impression on the new team I was with,” Rooker said. “Having to go to your manager the third or fourth week you are with them and say, ‘Hey, I left all my uniforms, I am going to have to wear a different number in the lineup tonight’ is not a fun thing.”

Rooker is now a first baseman for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins who drafted him in the first round and No. 35 overall in the 2017 Major League Draft.

Rooker was the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Male Athlete of the Year in 2017 at Mississippi State, the first in school history. He was the first SEC player to surpass 20 home runs, 30 doubles and 75 RBI in a single season and the second player from Mississippi State (Rafael Palmeiro was the first) to be named a National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. In 2016 he led the Bulldogs to the SEC championship with a .324 batting average, 11 home runs and 54 RBI.

“That was pretty special, the work that the team put in to come back from finishing last in 2015 to win the league in 2016,” Rooker said.

Rooker, 23, comes from an athletic family. His father, Terry, played baseball at the University of Memphis and his mother, Lynne, played on the Tigers’ tennis team. His younger brother, Josh, finished his freshman season as a catcher on the Memphis baseball team. His younger sister, Alden, who just completed her junior year at Evangelical Christian School in Memphis, has committed to play soccer at Arkansas State.

Faith has always been important.

“I grew up in church. I grew up in a Christian school. My parents have always been Christians. My dad has always been a huge influence in my life. … He has always been the Christian man I want to model myself after,” Rooker said.
Rooker is committed to his own spiritual development as well, which includes reading the Bible.

“Nothing is more important than staying in the Word, having that in your life at all times, having that truth spoken to you,” he said.

“Baseball is a trying sport. There is a lot of failure, a lot of frustration. Your faith is huge. You lean on your faith to help put those failures behind you and move forward.”

Chattanooga manager Tommy Watkins calls Rooker a “tremendous baseball player” and a positive influence on his teammates.

Watkins said Rooker’s walk-out song, “Where I Belong” by Christian band Building 429 is part of his testimony. “You can tell he’s a believer from his walk-out music,” Watkins said.

Rooker said he is learning patience as he works toward his major league baseball dream.

“I get frustrated when things are not going how I want them to,” he said. “Obviously, I have a specific path laid out for my career that I would like to follow, but I know that is not always going to happen. I have got to learn to sit back and take things how they come and … continue to trust the Lord’s plan for my life.”

He takes encouragement from Jeremiah 29:11.

“He knows the plan that He has for my life. Those things are going to come true whatever those plans may be. If I can trust in the fact that those are going to be best for my future, whatever they are, it is going to put me at peace and allow me to handle whatever situations come.”

Rooker knows he has a platform and hopes to use pro baseball as a platform to spread the gospel.

“People are baseball fans. People watch you on a daily basis. That gives you a platform to show your actions and show the love of Christ through how you act and how you handle situations.”

The goal to play in the big leagues keeps Rooker working hard, but in the meantime he enjoys the opportunity to play the sport he loves.

“It is great to be able to do something that I love to do. Being able to play baseball every day is a huge blessing.”