Lookouts infielder uses baseball for God’s glory

Lookouts infielder uses baseball for God’s glory

By Bill Sorrell
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Ryan Walker kept his eye on the LSU Tigers during the College World Series in June, as did a lot of people. His younger brother, Eric, was a starting pitcher for the Tigers with 78 strikeouts over his freshman season.

But the elder Walker, a utility infielder for the Chattanooga Lookouts, has a lot of eyes on him, too — and that’s something he says he wants to use for the glory of God.

Through 60 games this season, he has scored 29 runs and had 58 hits including eight doubles, five triples, two home runs and 22 RBIs. He has batted .265 with a .381 on-base percentage, a slugging percentage of .388 and seven stolen bases.

He helped the Lookouts finish first in the North Division the first half, assuring a playoff spot in September.

But to Walker, that’s not as important as being consistent in his faith and who he is, on and off the field.

“You realize wherever you go, you can always be the same as long as you are grounded in your faith,” he said. “I have realized that every move you make, you have a little bigger platform. It’s one of those things that is exciting and you realize how much you can influence.”

Walker was drafted by the Twins in 2013 and played for Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League and Fort Myers in the Florida State League before joining the Lookouts.

Chattanooga pitchers Mason Melotakis and Nick Burdi said Walker adds a lot to the team.

Melotakis called him the “ultimate utility guy,” saying you could put him anywhere and he “can get the job done.”

But Burdi said it goes further than that — Walker brings a “strong, kind of mellowed-out environment for us.”

“His faith is pretty cool to see,” Burdi said. “He is one of the guys I have been with since I signed. You see him carrying himself that way and it’s good to see when you have someone that inspired in their walk.”

Walker was baptized at Lake Arlington Baptist Church at age 9 and influenced spiritually by his parents, Dean and Tammy Walker, whom he calls role models. But Walker became more involved in his faith toward the end of his college career at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“Going to college was definitely a great experience to grow in every aspect,” said Walker, who was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes his first two years.

“We are not here to hit a round ball and make that play,” he said. “We are here to spread the gospel and tell the good news. In baseball, it’s how we live our daily life and what you involve yourself in. I know that is my goal.”

Walker said his faith is challenged daily but he has a lot of support.

“We have a pretty good group here,” he said. “We pray together. We have Bible studies.”

With the daily grind, Walker has to work hard to make time to read the Bible.

“That is one thing I try to do better every year, daily being in the Word. It’s easy to get in the routine,” he said. “We will have an early morning game and you are tired. There are a lot of excuses you go with. But the heart wants what you feed it.”