JENA, Ala. (WBRC) - Growing up in Tampa, all Sam Marsonek wanted to be was a baseball player. His wife Kristen had dreams of becoming a physician. They both made it. Sam went all the way to Yankee Stadium before an off-field injury ended his dream, but another was about to come true for the couple.
“Baseball was my life, my identity, my purpose. When everything is wrapped up in it, it’s just hard to overcome it when that’s all you feel like you have. I went on a mission trip to The Dominican Republic and God radically changed my life.”
His wife Kristen explains the story from her perspective, "Sam was like, ‘You know I really think The Lord’s calling us up to Alabama.’ "
Sam remembers, "I said, ‘What do you think about moving up here and running this baseball ministry called Baseball Country?’ And her first response was, ‘If that’s where God wants us, we don’t have a choice.’ "
“Not on our radar of what I thought we would ever do but here we are,” Kristen says with a smile. “A lot of the kids who come here don’t have a father and a mother figure in their home and so I do love to show them what that looks like, what marriage looks like.”
Of course, Sam still teaches lots of baseball at the camp called Baseball Country in Jena in Greene County. “We still, obviously, do lot of baseball, softball, different types of camps but everything kind of touches these rural communities that don’t have a lot of hope.”
Kristen has found her former life’s work helpful as well, “We’ve done a lot of front porch exams, a hurt arm or a finger or a cut or whatever it is. So that’s kind of been neat to at least pull from my former life as a physician.”
Now the Marsoneks are taking the outreach of Baseball Country beyond the diamond.
“We started an outdoor ministry, calling it Creator’s Outpost. This mentorship program is going to include twenty kids from Greene County. They’re going to a learn a little bit of everything and they’re going to have some skin in the game, so it’s going to be pretty cool.”
While a popular movie once centered around a corn field and baseball, Sam and Kristen are busy building their real-life Field of Dreams although Kristen confesses, “Are you gonna believe it if I said I haven’t seen it? I know there’s baseball fields and corn fields and I know if you build it, they’ll come. That’s all I know!”
Yes, there are corn fields here and baseball, but this is a field Kristen and Sam never dreamed of. Sometimes dreams come true in mysterious ways.