Jeremy Affeldt speaks with the media.
Jeremy Affeldt speaks with the media. Josh Spasaro

Jeremy Affeldt transforms hate in San Francisco

AS he stands one game away from being a part of a third World Series triumph, with game seven of the World Series in Kansas City this morning, San Francisco Giants relieving pitcher Jeremy Affeldt has revealed he once hated the game of baseball.

He hated a lot of things, in fact.

But it was also the game of baseball that allowed him to totally transform his thinking - from living his life with the mission of helping himself, to now helping others.

The 35-year-old makes some stunning revelations in the book he released last year - To Stir A Movement.

One is that he had such strong homophobic feelings, he refused to leave his hotel room, aside from going to the ballpark whenever he'd play in San Francisco - a celebrated liberal city - as an opposing player.

Affeldt struggled for acceptance in school, fuelling the rage he possessed, once trying to punch one of his big-league managers, and he blamed others for his struggles.

He grew to even hate baseball - his livelihood - because he was unclear of his purpose in the game, and tired of thinking he had to pitch his heart out, to solely entertain fans and the media.

But getting traded from the Kansas City Royals, who he is currently opposing in a thrilling World Series, to the Colorado Rockies in 2006, gave him a much-needed fresh start and saw him approach his life differently.

One of the things that I've done in baseball is I started to hate the game, because I didn't understand the point of it.

Moving to San Francisco to play for the Giants in 2009 further expanded his horizons away from the pitching mound.

Affeldt joined an organisation called Team Free2Play, pledging a portion of his salary to help build orphanages and hospitals.

He also started a non-profit organisation in his hometown of Spokane, Washington, called Generation Alive.

The organisation creates young leaders, committed to serving others and responding to the needs in their community, such as poverty and human trafficking.

Affeldt said he will never forget one day he was holidaying in Thailand with his father, before a man grabbed him by the hand and tried to pull him into a building.

Only years later did he understand he could have been kidnapped and sold into the sex slavery trade.

With a new lease of life after joining the Giants, Affeldt also lost his homophobia.

Nowadays, after finding God, he lives by a tattoo he has on his left arm, which the left-arm hurler looks down at before every pitch.

It says, "No man shall live for himself".

After once harbouring so much hate for fellow human beings, Affeldt now wants to help those in need - as much as he wants another World Series ring.

"One of the things that I've done in baseball is I started to hate the game, because I didn't understand the point of it," he told APN.

"But once I started knowing the success I had on the field can bless other people and help others, that gave me the purpose to continue playing."

Affeldt said it hasn't been a problem juggling his commitments between turning out for the Giants, in the most competitive baseball competition in the world, and his charity projects.

"I've learned to separate both of them. I do a lot of stuff in the off-season, and then in-season I do stuff where it's not going to affect my job," he said.

"I do a lot of stuff in the poverty world - we do hunger initiatives, we fight human trafficking.

"We do well-digging, we do orphanage building.

"And we just try to create opportunities for people in poverty, to have opportunities to become successful and be leaders in their community."

Life after The Big Show is rapidly approaching for Affeldt - a devoted father of three - meaning he will soon be able to throw himself more into helping others, once he stops throwing baseballs.

"I've got one more year on the contract here and we'll see," he said.

"It's year to year and it'll be a family decision after that."



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