Jared Hughes, relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, was let go by the Pittsburgh Pirates in time for the Brewers to sign Hughes for the 2017 opening day game. No matter where he plays the game, Jared Hughes knows what is most important to him.
“My relationship with Jesus Christ,” shares Hughes, “is the most important thing in my life. Jesus gave His life for us, and my personal relationship with Him is the ability to know I am loved. No matter what, His love gives me purpose; I live for Christ.”
Christ’s love for us is reflected in the Bible verses of John 15:12-13 when Jesus said, “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend. You are my friends….”
The whole Bible is a story of God’s love for His people, and Jared has a liking for Scripture regarding love. He comments, “Any Scripture verses that express love, I enjoy. There are passages of love all throughout the Holy Bible, but the ones in the New Testament are ones I enjoy the most.”
Paul shares in Ephesians 4:1-2, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
The chaplain of the Milwaukee Brewers, Rev. Steve Sonderman, has this to say about Hughes, “I am so excited to have Jared in Milwaukee as he is such a strong leader. His faith in Jesus is contagious.”
Jared was born in Stamford, Connecticut; but at age 2 in 1987, his parents, Bill and Barbara, with Jared and sister, Kelly, moved to California. He grew up in San Marino, California. Jared went to Sunday school and worshiped at their Presbyterian Church. He shares, “I really never gave my heart and life to Christ. It was later in life after I met my wife and was playing professional ball when I really devoted myself to the Lord.” Hughes continues, “Baseball Chapel really changed my life. Through Baseball Chapel and the encouragement of teammates and friends to dive into God’s Word, I came to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.” To this day, Jared and his mother, a strong believer, share Bible verses with one another.
In 1999, Jared’s family moved to Orange County, California, where Jared attended Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Jared played both baseball and basketball. However, in the middle of his sophomore year, Jared was approached by his baseball coach, Tip Lefebvre, whose brother, Jim, was a former Brewer manager. Coach Lefebvre stated, “Jared, a 6’7” center in the NBA just might not work out for you. But as a 6’7” pitcher in the major leagues, you have quite a future ahead of you.”
Jared comments, “The next week after talking to Coach Lefebvre I quit basketball, and the rest is history. Thankfully, I stuck to playing baseball.” Jared hung up his sneakers and began focusing on baseball.
Jared remembers something his father told him, “Jared, you have God-given ability to be a baseball player. You have the talent, and you should use it.” Jared believes “those in major leagues have God-given gifts. Players have the opportunity to glorify God with the ability God has given them.”
Clint Hurdle, Jared’s former manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates, comments, “Jared is a good servant of Christ. He is also my son, Christian’s, favorite player.”
Hughes graduated from high school in 2003 and went to Santa Clara University to play baseball. The following year Jared transferred to Long Beach State University in the Big West conference where he was teammate to major league stars, Evan Longoria (Rays) and Troy Tulowitzki (Blue Jays). Jared’s record was 8-3 in 2005 and he was second-team Big West All-Conference. He followed with an 8-4 record in 2006 and was honorable mention all-conference. In the summer of 2005 Baseball American named Hughes a second team summer All-American when he was 7-0 with a 1.62 ERA in the Cape Cod League. Jared was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth round in the 2006 draft. His Major League debut was on September 7, 2011 versus Houston. His first win was on May 21, 2012 against the New York Mets and his first save on June 30, 2012 versus St. Louis. In 2016 Jared made his 300th career major league appearance. As of this writing, his Major League career record is 16-14 with a 2.82 ERA and 326 appearances.
First Corinthians 13, the love chapter, verses 4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind, love is not envious arrogant or rude, love bears all things, believes.., hopes.., endures all things”. The words patient and endure have taken on significant meaning when it comes to Jared and the love of his life, Kelly. He shares, “Kelly and I went to high school together. We met as freshmen in a Spanish class, but we did not date until later in high school. We caught each other’s eye, and it was just meant to be.” He continues, “We were apart from each other a lot. Kelly, a tall athletic hurdler on the high school track team, went to Emory University in Atlanta while I went to college in California. She then went to UCLA law school in Los Angeles at the same time I signed a professional contract that took me to North Carolina. Our bond continued to be strong.”
Kelly is a licensed attorney in both California and Texas who will go back to being an active attorney once they settle in their home in Plano, Texas. Jared and Kelly were married in 2011 and are proud parents of their son, William, born in December 2016. “Kelly is an angel who is a fantastic mother, and she is the love of my life. William is a bundle of joy who is constantly smiling. He has been a blessing to have in my life.”
Marcus Hanel, Brewer bullpen catcher, highlights Jared, “You can see the light of the Lord just light up in Jared as he talks and smiles. There is just an unbelievable joy in him. It is a pleasure to have him on our team, and he is always positive and never has a bad word about anything. What a testament to Jared showing God’s glory in all that he does.” Jared’s actions are exemplified in the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31), “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Chase Anderson, a starting pitcher for the Brewers, declares, “Jared Hughes is a solid believer in Christ first and foremost. His presence in the clubhouse is known and respected. He is a super nice and caring guy who is a great husband and father. I am excited and glad he is on our team and we have been building our friendship. I am happy to say he lives right down the street from me in Texas.”
“In everything I do,” states Jared, “I try to show my faith in my actions. I am not perfect, and I make mistakes. But my main objective is to
show love to others. I show love to my family, and I tried to show love in the community. As a professional baseball player, I can use my platform in the community to make a difference. Kids tend to listen when I share my faith and my life in general.” He continues, “Hopefully, I can help kids make good choices and to pursue their faith. When I show love in the community, I am also showing my love for Christ.”
When Jesus was asked what commandment is most important, He replied (in Mark 12: 29-31), “The most important one is this: love the
Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater then these.”
Everyone faces temptation and struggles in life, and it includes professional athletes. Jared’s faith has helped him meet the challenges he faces daily. He explains, “Christ has changed my life when I focus on Him. When I keep my Christian values as my top priority, I make better choices. When I know I am making my decisions based on my faith, I know they will be good ones. My life is much better and happier because of my faith in Jesus Christ.”
Written by Bruce Darnall, Lake Mills, WI
Photos by Scott Paulus, Milwaukee Brewers