Charlie Ruud is a star pitcher for the St. Paul Saints. (You may recognize the team from its various wacky promotions - the Michael Vick dog chew toy, for one.) During his four seasons with the Minnesota-based minor league club, Ruud has set team records for the most wins (32), most starts (60) and most innings played (397).
But Charlie may soon be giving up his dreams of major league glory so he can answer an even bigger call-up.
The ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS reports that Ruud is also a theologian who just received his master’s degree in divinity last December. And the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has called him up, ready to assign him as associate pastor of the Bethel Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minnesota, starting this September.
And his time with the Saints has helped Rudd prepare for dealing with his soon-to-be own congregation:
Ruud said his greatest strength will be assimilating the people skills he acquired navigating the melting pot of a baseball clubhouse. “I’ve been able to meet people from so many different places and different lines of thought, to hear what makes them tick and enter into that dialogue and challenge or prod or just listen,” he said.
But don’t think Charlie’s the type of churchman who’s always constantly chastising everyone:
Four years into his tenure in St. Paul, he still challenges misconceptions of him as a finger-wagging, Christian crusader out to convert a clubhouse of 20-something dudes, some of whom chase more skirts than curveballs.
Ruud admits to cussing on the mound, not out of pride but because he is confident his salvation is not threatened by uttering a four-letter word after surrendering a home run.
“I know that I’m a sinner, but I know there’s a God that loves and forgives,” he said.
Ruud’s mission means avoiding moral absolutes and embracing believers and nonbelievers in communion because, he says, “we’re all in need of a little love.”
And he should really kill ‘em during church league softball games.