Jerry Sands’ professional baseball career has spanned an ocean, three countries and more than a decade.
A right fielder for the Hanshin Tigers in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan, Sands has played on four Major League Baseball teams since he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. He was the Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year in 2010 after a promotion to Double A Chattanooga in the Southern League.
Sands, 32, made his MLB debut in April 2011 with the Dodgers. In 61 games he batted .253 and hit four home runs, including a grand slam that May.
He went on to play for the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.
During his MLB career he racked up 67 RBIs, 10 home runs and a .238 batting average.
Sands went to Asia in 2018 to play for Kiwoom in the Korean baseball league. He smashed 12 home runs, batted .314 and had 37 RBIs in 25 games. In 2019, he batted .319 with 33 home runs and 125 RBIs.
After the 2019 season, he moved to Japan to play for Hanshin, his current team.
During his professional career, Sands said he has had to depend on his faith.
“You have got to rely on Him, or you are not going to go anywhere,” Sands said. “If you rely on the Lord then things are going to work out for you. Even if they don’t work out in baseball, it’s a better life through Him,” Sands said.
His parents, Jerry and Lori, have been important influences and are his biggest role models, Sands said.
“They have worked hard all their lives for everything they have gotten,” he said. “They’ve supported me through my life, and I would not be here without them.”
Sands has displayed those same work habits each place he’s played baseball.
“I have had a lot of successes, and a lot of failures that have helped to build the success,” he said.
A self-described “pretty big competitor,” Sands admitted he’s disappointed with each loss but is glad he’s still in the game. He doesn’t want to hold anything back in a game he has loved for years.
“You can’t play every day and not love the game,” he said.
His wife, Morgan, has been influential in his faith walk. When they were dating, she would text him Bible verses and tell him to keep his head up, that everything was going to work out through Christ.
Married in 2011, he and Morgan have two sons, Eli, 5, and Tucker, 3. They attend Watkins Chapel Baptist Church in Middlesex, North Carolina.
In addition to reading the Bible and learning how it applies to daily life, Sands said his faith has grown through participation in Baseball Chapel.
“On the field I am not much of a vocal leader,” he said. “I lead by actions; the way I carry myself, the way I go through everyday life. I feel like you represent the Lord more by your actions than by what you say.”
Sands has seen “the Lord come out in people” through guidance they’ve provided him and in everyday situations.
Developing skills and faith
“Every day you are always going to see the Lord acting through you or through other people. You’ve got to remember what you believe in and make sure your actions are speaking louder than your words,” he noted.
Being a better Christian and a better player are two of his goals, Sands said, and on two continents he continues to develop his leadership skills and faith.
“I feel like I am a pretty good leader on and off the field. That is something that you can’t teach,” Sands said. “I want to continue to use the talents that God has blessed me with. I can see where [faith] is affecting my life.”