Rangers share their faith on collectibles

Friday, September 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

After 11 years in the majors, John Wetteland is used to fans clamoring for his picture and his autograph. He's happy to give out signed baseball cards, but he wants to be remembered for what's on the back of the card – and he isn't referring to statistics.

The Rangers closer, along with teammates Chad Curtis and Scott Sheldon, are among a group of baseball players who have religious messages instead of stats on their baseball cards.

"Why not give something that means something?" Mr. Wetteland said. "If it doesn't mean something, you don't learn anything."

Their baseball cards are similar to the Topps and Upper Deck brand cards collected by children and adults. They have an action photo on the front and a short biography on the back. The rest of the text focuses on faith, not baseball.

Mr. Wetteland's card lists his favorite Old and New Testament books and his favorite Bible character. His favorite Bible verse is Romans 5:1-2: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand."

Mr. Wetteland goes through 20,000 cards a year. Mr. Curtis has printed six different messages on the back of his cards, and he's passed out 55,000 of the 60,000 cards he ordered. Both players pay for their own cards, but neither would say how much they cost.

"Hopefully it makes a positive impact," Mr. Curtis said. "I wanted to do something that has a positive impact for eternity."

The message on Mr. Curtis' card says he had it printed "because I wanted to share with you something more than just my autograph." He refers to several passages of Scripture, including John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 6:23.

Infielder Scott Sheldon, in his first full season in the majors, could not afford to print his own cards, so he got help from Baseball Chapel, a sports ministry.

He ordered 3,000 cards when the season started and handed out 2,000 in a month and a half. On the back, the utility player shares his testimony and encourages readers to make a decision to live a Christian life.

"For the kids, I wanted it to be a simple message, to speak the truth," Mr. Sheldon said. "For everybody else, it's something that not too many fans can associate players with."

Mr. Curtis and Mr. Wetteland send autographed cards to everyone who writes to them. Mr. Sheldon prefers passing his cards out to fans before and after the game. "I like to talk about taking a stand for Christ," he said.

All three players said they've received little negative feedback from other players. Some fans are a different story. Mr. Curtis has had cards ripped up and returned in the mail.

"We can't control that," he said. "We just hope we can get a message out to as many fans as we can."