Goldeyes catcher shares faith with hometown crowd
By Scott Taylor | Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Photos by Shawn Coates.
WINNIPEG, MBLuis Alen may be quiet, but the Goldeyes catcher had fans' attention when he shared his faith story after a recent game in Winnipeg.
Close to 100 people showed up for the post-game Faith Night event at Shaw Park to hear Alen's story about growing up as a young baseball player in Venezuela and his subsequent journey to Canada.
Lorne Korol, who leads Baseball Chapel for players every couple of weeks, says Alen's speech to the 2012 Faith Night crowd "was riveting."
"We had Ace (Walker) and P.K. (Price Kendall) come out and we've had them as guests of Faith Night at the ballpark before," Korol says. "They're always great, but we hadn't had Luis come out before. He's a pretty quiet guy so I kind of wondered how he'd do.
"Well, was I surprised. He was just tremendous. His message was clear, genuine and from the heart. His strong relationship with God really came out in his interview. He really impacted those in attendance. And the people there were hanging on every word."
Alen, who was raised a Roman Catholic in his South American home, has been the Goldeyes regular catcher and sometimes first baseman and designated hitter since 2010. Prior to that he spent some time with the New York Mets who signed him after a stellar 2007 season, also in Winnipeg.
But his career with the Mets wasn't to be. Two nightmarish seasons later, he returned to Winnipeg.
Despite his troubles on the field, Alen held on to his faith. And since his return to Winnipeg, he has been the best catcher in independent baseball for the last two seasons.
He told the Faith Night crowd at Shaw Park that there weren't many people who believed he'd ever be a pro ball playerbut because of his personal relationship with Jesus Christ, he always believed.
"I told them about my life and how I fell in love with baseball," Alen says. "I told them how it was for me. I didn't get a lot of support when I was growing up. People didn't believe I could play the game. People told me I'd never play pro baseball and that I should do something else.
"But all of that just gave me more strength and more desire to be successful. I told them that you can do anything with Jesus. That's the most important thing."
He has certainly found success in Winnipeg. After hitting .333 in 2007, he came back in 2010 and hit .290. Then last season, he hit .322. After a slow start on the season-opening road trip this year, by mid-June Alen was hitting .266 with a home run, five doubles and 10 runs batted. In his career in Winnipeg, he's hitting .312 with a .455 slugging percentage.
He's also quite enthused with the way the Goldeyes are playing this year. Not only is Alen at the top of his game, but his team is also playing better than he ever remembers.
"I always get off to a slow start but it usually takes me about 100 at bats to get it going and I feel like I've started earlier this year," Alen says. "The thing is, this is about the best team I remember here. This is a really, really good team. We're aggressive and we've proven that we can score anytime."