Here's the wind up and the pitch — Jesus Christ is the answer for eternal hope and salvation.

Paul Husband, former professional baseball player and heavy hitter for the SEC Championship contender Ole Miss Rebel squad, said he never took his eye off the ball after learning what really matters in life.

Husband, a Jackson native, played for the first two years under former Ole Miss head baseball coach Tom Swayze, a strict disciplinarian. He then had the good fortune of coming under the tutelage of longtime Ole Miss baseball coach Jake Gibbs.

"He was just 33 years old," Husband recalled. "He said you've got to go out and have fun. You've got to play loosey-goosey."

Husband said his love for the game of baseball later translated to his love for the Gospel.

Husband's love affair with the sport began when he was just a small child.

Husband, who came from a family of modest means, said his father, a U.S. Marine Master Sgt. and watch repairman, made sacrifices to help further his son's interest in the sport.

"When I was just a young boy, probably 7 or 8-years-old, my daddy bought us a pitching machine and a batting cage," Husband said. "He invented the first aluminum bat."

"I was known to hit 1,000 balls a day," Husband said. "I hate to tell you this, but baseball became my god. Baseball came first."

Husband was offered a "full ride' scholarship to the University of Mississippi.

Before going to Ole Miss, the high school stand out had been drafted by the California Angels.

"My parents wouldn't let me sign," added Husband.

Husband would go on to play for four years at Ole Miss, go to the College World Series and play for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Husband's lucky break in life came, however, when he was discipled by a fellow player who was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

"I got saved my last year at Ole Miss," Husband said.

Husband added that he wasn't saved during his early years at Ole Miss.

"It was a party school," Husband said. "I was lost as a goose. A friend of mine went to the Campus Crusade for Christ and got saved."

A sobering experience occurred when three Ole Miss baseball players died in a head-on collision in 1970.

For Husband, accepting Christ was a life-changing experience.

"I had been the black sheep of the family," Husband said. "I was as crooked as they come. I had a day-night conversion. I came to know that the fruit of Jesus Christ in your life will produce faith, hope and love."

"God radically changed my life," Husband said. "The next three years, I had the best three years playing baseball. Any success I have is because of Jesus Christ. He is good and gracious and will take care of us."

Husband, who would go on to achieve a PhD. in church history, has spent the past 28 years as pastor at Tunica Presbyterian Church.

The father of four sons, two of whom are missionaries, quoted from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Phillipians.

"I forget those things that are behind me and press forward to the prize of the high calling Christ Jesus," Husband said.

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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