Baseball injury brought death to his dream, but renewal of faith

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By Allie Scribner –

A torn ligament in his arm threatened to derail Matt Carpenter’s MLB dreams when he was only a junior in college. His recovery and return to the field didn’t go spectacularly.

“I was awful,” he told Sports Spectrum. “I cried myself to sleep. I was distraught.”

Faced with the specter of losing his dream, Matt decided to trust Jesus with his future, and He brought the turnaround.

Matt Carpenter was born in Galveston, Texas. His father, Rick, played baseball in college and his mother, Tammie, played softball when she was young. His older brother, Tyler, was a minor league baseball player with the New York Mets. So Matt was born into a family of baseball players.

Carpenter was a star at Elkins High School. He was a three-year first-team all-district performer and two-time all-state tournament team selection. He holds his high school record for most career hits.

Carpenter went to play at Texas Christian University (TCU); however, his freshman season was rough with only a .289 batting average. In the next season, however, he was the second-best batter on the team with a .349 average.

Carpenter expected to have an incredible Junior season at TCU, but in the eighth game, he suddenly tore a ligament in his elbow while throwing to home plate from first base.

He needed a “Tommy John surgery,” which takes a ligament from your arm or leg to replace the torn one. The surgery is most common for pitchers and is actually rare in other positions in the field. He was the first player at TCU to undergo that surgery.

Carpenter began to gain weight. His grades began to fall. He lacked discipline in his life.

Carpenter had grown up in a Christian home. He simply didn’t carry an active faith into college for the first few years.

The injury caused him to reexamine his faith. He began going to church again. He believed and hoped and prayed for a return in baseball.

Unfortunately, he fell flat. Carpenter despaired.

“It was that moment I realized, this isn’t about me,” Carpenter said. “There was so much relief there. From that point on, it literally changed me. I went into (the next season), I played with a new fire, just completely different.”

Due to his injury, Carpenter was granted two more seasons – a so-called “medical redshirt.” When he was a junior, Carpenter was named second-team all-conference at third base with 48 runs scored.

Carpenter was on a roll. During his senior season, he led the team to the College World Series with a batting average of .333 and 11 home runs.

Carpenter ended his college career by being named second team all Mountain West Conference in 2006, 2008, and 2009. He broke school records for playing the most games at 241.

After college, he didn’t know if he would play baseball again. He wanted to play MLB but was not sure he would make the cut.

But Carpenter was not worried because he trusted God.

“This might have been the last baseball game I could have ever played,” he said. “I was ok with it.”

That same year, the Saint Louis Cardinals drafted him in the 13th round.

Three years later, Carpenter was nominated as the Cardinals’ Organization Player of the Year.

He led with the most hits, runs scored and doubles in 2013 in the major leagues. He was given the Silver Slugger Award, the first second baseman in the Cardinals franchise history to win it.

Carpenter has also played for the New York Yankees, the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. He is still playing, back at the Cardinals, in 2024.

“The game of life, I have no control over,” he says. “The game of baseball I have no control over. All I have is my faith.”

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

About the writer of this article: Allie Scribner lives in Santa Monica and studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy.