Grant Desme, the Oakland A’s prospect who recently gave up baseball to consider entering the priesthood, guested on the nationally-syndicated Dan Patrick radio show today.
One of many interesting and somewhat quizzical comments from Desme to Patrick:
It was, um, I could just tell from prayer. Praying is just…especially after having such a…I mean, God blessed me with an amazing season and an even better fall league. And it just wasn’t, wasn’t it. I mean, I wasn’t really at peace with it, and I could tell, I felt like God was calling me to more, especially after having a really successful season. I really felt like if that was where God wanted me to be, I would have been at peace with it and really content.
I can’t even begin to wrap my head around why Desme made his decision. His comments to Patrick about leaving baseball for the priesthood left me a lot more questions than answers.
We’ve transcribed the complete interview after the jump and you can go here for audio.
DP: How did you inform the Oakland A’s that you were going to go into the priesthood?
GD: I called Billy Beane, and told him I figured it’d be best to inform people on top and let it trickle down rather than let it trickle up.
DP: Did he try to talk you out of it?
GD: No, he was extremely supportive and very respectful, and I don’t think he could have handled it any better than he did.
DP: How long have you been considering this?
GD: Um, probably seriously for about a year and a half. Um, I almost…before last season, I was really considering retiring. I called my agent, talked to them about it, but I figured I decided it wasn’t the right time and they wanted to make sure I was making the right decision, so I went ahead and played last season.
DP: But how does that come to you, that you say, okay, I’m going to stop playing baseball. You were just named the Fall League MVP, and you say, okay, now’s the time?
GD: It was, um, I could just tell from prayer. Praying is just…especially after having such a…I mean, God blessed me with an amazing season and an even better fall league. And it just wasn’t, wasn’t it. I mean, I wasn’t really at peace with it, and I could tell, I felt like God was calling me to more, especially after having a really successful season. I really felt like if that was where God wanted me to be, I would have been at peace with it and really content.
DP: But if you look at what Tim Tebow is…he uses football as his pulpit to be able to get out a message. His parents are missionaries, he knows that he can get into the NFL and reach more people. Was there…why not give that thought that you could be a baseball player, a major league baseball player, and reach more people than maybe you could as a priest?
GD: That was definitely one of the main things that I had to discern and think about, cause yeah, baseball can be used for a great…for a lot of good. But I had to look at first the fact that there was no guarantee that I was going to be in the big leagues. I had just been in A-ball…
DP: What did the A’s say about your prospects for being a major leaguer and how’d that affect your decision to become a priest now?
GD: Um, they just…I mean, I’d been invited to big league camp, but then other than that, that was it. I was gonna stay in the minor leagues, and I was still going to have to work my way up through double-A and triple-A before I even got a chance at the big leagues. So, really just discerning what God’s will was as where I thought I could do the most good, because, I mean, he’s the one in control and whatever he wants is going to be the best for me and for everyone else.
DP: But how is it to play a game and be in the game, but really thinking, this isn’t my calling? Did you ever have those moments where you mind sort of wandered and you went, you know, I’m thinking about being a priest, not hitting a baseball?
GD: Yeah, but I really had to remind myself that I came into the season, I’m a baseball player now and this is my job, and I have to do this well, versus a Christian guy…I mean, God blessed me with good athletic ability, and at that point I still, my job to glorify him, to use it to the best of my abilities, and then at the end of the year, sit down and really consider everything.
DP: I’m looking at the numbers you put up. This is only A-ball, but you know, you’re batting .288, you got 11 homers, er, 31 homers and 89 RBIs. You got 40 steals in 131 games. I mean, those are all-around great numbers, I don’t care what – you know, A-ball, double-A, triple-A – I mean, does it make it easier or tougher to walk away from baseball when you put up numbers like that and you’re the Fall League MVP?
GD: I’d say easier, because I went out on a good note, I’m at peace with it, and I know that I’m not just…because I hit a rough spot I’m moving along to a different path. Um, that was my main concern.
DP: I’m gonna pick you when, you know, church softball, I would make sure that I got you as my first pick.
DP: Like you’d be a lottery pick. I’d go, I’ll take Grant, I’ll take Father Grant over here, please. You know, I need you though, you’re gonna bat fourth in the line-up though.
DP: Does religion have a place in sports?
GD: Um, yeah. I think we should take Christ wherever we’re at. I mean, that should be, that’s our purpose in life is to glorify him. Everything we have comes from God, and we should…whatever we’re at do everything the best that we can to glorify him.
DP: How tough was it to be in the locker room with the language? Did you ever say to guys, hey, ease up on it?
GD: Um, sometimes. I mean, it’s…you gotta really…that’s just the way things are. But you still have to live things the way that are right. And I think I tried to take the model more like St. Francis says, is, speak the Gospel always but use words when necessary. So if something came up, and I had the chance to talk to someone about something, I would. But, usually I try to live more by example.
DP: Are you surprised that we’re fascinated by this story that you would give up your Oakland A’s dreams to be a priest?
GD: Yeah, I, um…
DP: Are we the crazy ones that you’re probably going, what’s the big deal? I mean, is that how you view us?
GD: No. I just did not expect it to blow up as big as it did. I thought maybe…’cause I never really thought about it. I mean, I made this decision because I felt God was calling me to do it, and that was it. I didn’t really think about how big of an impact it would have even in the media hitting national headlines, so I just really wasn’t prepared for that type of reaction, I guess.
DP: But you don’t think you’ll get that pull back to the game? That you’ve made up your mind, that there’s no way you’d go back to try to play baseball?
GD: Um, no. I want to throw everything I have into giving everything up for God, and the only way, I mean, I’d go back to baseball is if for some reason it didn’t work out and I was still…I mean, I don’t know how things would work out, but…
DP: Do you know what to expect with the priesthood? This is a ten-year process to be a priest, isn’t it?
GD: Yeah. Um, I know…
DP: I mean, that’s sort of like being in the minor leagues though, isn’t it, before you become a priest?
GD: Yeah, no, that’s what, uh…I’ve been talking to some other media, that’s kind of the comparison I use. This is just one step to further my discernment process, there’s no guarantee I’m gonna be a priest.
DP: Yeah, you’re in single-A right now.
GD: Yeah, one of their rookie ball. So, uh, I’ve got a long way to go, and, um…
DP: This is what I want, Grant. I would like to have your glove and put it up in our studio. That way if you decide to come back, then you have to go through me to come back to play baseball.
GD: (laughs) Okay.
DP: Alright, so we’ll put the glove on display. I’d love for you to autograph it, and we put it up in the studio that we have as this show is telecast every morning. Is that good?
GD: Yeah, I can do that for ya.
DP: I would love to have that. And am I allowed to place a call to the seminary to talk to you, an update on this as we move forward on this?
GD: I don’t know. I’d have to talk to…
DP: Okay, I don’t want you to get in trouble, ‘cause there could be like a kangaroo court there with some of the other priests, right?
DP: …like you’re going to be fined. Is there any hazing that goes on there?
GD: No. It’s all about living charity and virtue, so I don’t think there’s much hazing.