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Start spreadin' the news. I'm, leaving today. I wanna be a part of itNew York, New York

Joe was pursuing a degree in engineering-as well as a post behind the plate for the Wildcats' baseball team. "I remember when I first met Kim," says Joe. " I told my friends 'That's it; she's the one I want to marry!' She brought l aughter and excitement into my life. She was a Christian

AM ILIAR WORDS

tO a Frank

and had a j oy that I didn' t understand." After his senior year in college, Joe entered

Sinatra song became reality

..

for Joe and Kim Girardi on

professi onal baseball 's giant funnel- the

a November day in 1996.

minor leagues, hoping to fulfill his lifelong

A fter 3 years behind th e

dream behind the plate in the majors. But

pl ate for th e Colorado

every field of dreams has its nightmares. Joe found himself in Win ston- Sa l em,

High City in a trade that sent him

North Carolina, playing Single A ball for the

east to don the Yankee pinstripes.

Chicago Cubs. He was away from Kim, fami -

The Girard is had no idea what

ly, and friends. Driven by a haunting sadness,

was ahead, but with excitement and a bit of

Joe struggled with the death of his mom, who

anxiety they changed the message on their

had passed away during his sophomore year

answering machine to greet callers with, "It's

of college. " I felt like I was playing to keep her alive," says Joe. " I knew she was dead,

up to you, New York, New York." "I was in a comfort zone in Colorado," says

but I played to keep the memory of her going.

Girardi. "Getting traded was a faith-builder,

Finally, I broke down." Joe quit the team and

and as the season progressed I began to see

returned home to a safe place and to a person

what God was doing in our lives." As Joe speaks, he looks at wi fe Kim and smiles, knowing that she has shared equally in his j oy and his pain. For this Chicago-based couple, baseball, trades, and even winning the World Series all run a distant second to the highest goals of their lives: loving God and loving each other.

Atrade to New York looked like bad news, but Joe Girardi and his wife saw it turn into acelebration

could help him. "We were sitting in the base-

By Gari Meacham

experi enced some fru strating and lonel y

he trusted- his girlfriend Kim. When Joe returned to Northwestern to see Kim, she introduced him to Someone else who ment of the Tri Delta sorority house," recalls Joe. " Kim explained salvati on to me, and I silently prayed to receive Jesus as my Savior." With new hope, Joe returned to his minorleague team to finish the season. Although he

But it's not been easy. The daily pressure of performing at Yankee Stadium has done in many players. Plus there were other distrac-

~

times, one year later he was suiting up for

tions: media pressures, labor disputes, adjust-

~

opening day with the Chicago Cubs. The beginning of a new season always holds

ing to life in a new, unfamiliar city. Beyond the fl ashes of glamour that come ~ mixed with the challenges lay the hearts of

,

meaning for rookies who are freshly initiated into the brotherhood of baseball, but opening

a major league ballpl ayer and his wife, as

day 1989 was exceptional for Joe and Kim. " I

they stru gg le to remember and maintain

asked Kim to marry me on opening night,"

what's importa nt. " Sometim es we look

says Joe. "We were in a restaurant after the

back at the events of our career and mar-

game, and the waiter brought the ring out on a

riage, and we are amazed at God' s good-

platter." Kim decided it was an appetizing dish

ness and mercy," says Kim . " He has

and accepted the proposal. Eight months later

brought us a long way."

Kim and Joe were married, launching together

Kim and Joe met at Northwestern University. Kim was acti ve in her sorority, and

into the flurry of professional sports. For most couples the excitement of the pros SPORTS SPEC TRUM - MAY 1997

13

1997 may  
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