Fa­ther­hood, adop­tion helped deepen the faith of Rangers’ Wood­ward

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY STE­FAN STEVEN­SON ssteven­[email protected]­gram.com

Chris Wood­ward didn’t need a wake-up call or come-to-Je­sus mo­ment. He was al­ready liv­ing a life of pur­pose and pas­sion. The Texas Rangers man­ager was an in­field prospect in the Blue Jays’ or­ga­ni­za­tion in the late 1990s de­spite the long odds of be­ing se­lected in the 54th round of the 1994 draft. Just as his base­ball ca­reer was tak­ing root, how­ever, he was dealt a deeply per­sonal blow that shook his world. At just 21-years-old, Wood­ward had to deal with the death of his father. His faith was tested. “He tried to rea­son his faith and faith doesn’t work like that,” said Erin Wood­ward, Chris’ wife. A few years later, af­ter mar­ry­ing Erin in 2000, they had their first child, daugh­ter So­phie. But con­ceiv­ing an­other child was dif­fi­cult. Erin suf­fered more than 10 mis­car­riages dur­ing an eight-year span. His base­ball ca­reer was hang­ing by a thread in De­cem­ber 2006. He was a free agent look­ing for a team. The cou­ple had talked about adopt­ing when they were dat­ing and now, nearly a decade later, they pur­sued it. “Our dossier was pre­pared for

a baby from Tai­wan,” Erin said. They got a call from the adop­tion agency about a mother from Guatemala who was to have a baby soon in At­lanta. The Wood­wards were there when Ma­son was born. In fact, Erin, who is trained as an emer­gency room trauma nurse, helped de­liver him. “It was an un­be­liev­able turn of events. Chris had no con­tract at that point,” she said. Two days later, he signed with the Braves. “It was a God mo­ment for him,” his wife says. So­phie, now 17, ex­cels at dance and is pre­par­ing to at­tend col­lege next year. Ma­son, 12, plays the pi­ano and as­pires to be a chef. Grady, 10, is en­joy­ing Lit­tle League with mom as his head coach. They’ve bonded like only sib­lings can bond. So­phie, Chris Wood­ward said, has been fiercely pro­tec­tive of Ma­son when an­other kid might clum­sily ask about their re­la­tion­ships. He’s her brother, she tells them. Wood­ward spent only one sea­son with the Braves, but it was a turn­ing point in his per­sonal life. He spent time with four teams in 2008 and hopped around some more be­fore tran­si­tion­ing into coach­ing af­ter the 2012 sea­son. “There are cer­tain things that hap­pen in every­body’s life that make you ques­tion things,” said Wood­ward, who turns 43 on June 27. “And that was one of them. It just didn’t make sense to me. Meet­ing [Erin] kind of gave me a pos­i­tive hope and then we had my daugh­ter and af­ter we adopted Ma­son that kind of changed my spir­i­tual per­spec­tive.” The adop­tion of Ma­son helped re­mind Chris that life’s events, per­haps, do hap­pen for a rea­son. Both his sons and wife Erin will be with him Sun­day for his first Father’s Day as a ma­jor league man­ager. So­phie has a dance com­pe­ti­tion back home in Ari­zona. “You’re let­ting some­thing else lead your life,” Erin said. “We had no con­trol over that sit­u­a­tion and the out­come and the way things were go­ing to go. It was such a pre­car­i­ous adop­tion with so many mov­ing pieces to it that were re­ally be­yond our con­trol.” The or­deal brought him closer to God, Erin said. “It was a real faith mo­ment where he was able to see the hand of God in our lives,” she said. “To see a man who was al­ready so fun­da­men­tally and morally well put to­gether … he al­ways be­lieved and he al­ways had a spir­i­tual con­nec­tion, but to see God work­ing in his life like that … I think God has to stir your heart and stir your soul some­times to re­ally make an im­pact and for it to hit home. That’s what I saw in him, that spir­i­tual move­ment, mov­ing the spir­i­tual nee­dle in him to kind of com­plete this al­ready awe­some man.” Two years af­ter they adopted Ma­son, son Grady was born. All three sib­lings are as tight as could be. In fact, the mere men­tion of So­phie leav­ing for col­lege next year brings tears to her broth­ers’ eyes. Ma­son wasn’t in­ter­ested in base­ball. He plays pi­ano and hopes to be a world­class chef. That’s just fine with the Wood­wards. He loves to watch “Top Chef” and “Mas­ter Chef Jr.” and gives his par­ents tips on or­der­ing when they’re din­ing around the coun­try. Erin coaches Grady’s Lit­tle League teams and the fam­ily has been all

‘‘ I LOVE THE DI­VER­SITY OF OUR FAM­ILY. I LOVE BE­ING A FATHER. Chris Wood­ward, Texas Rangers man­ager

over watch­ing So­phie in dance team com­pe­ti­tions. The Wood­wards cher­ish the dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests their kids have shown. That’s part of the joy of par­ent­ing. “I would hope that the one thing all adop­tive par­ents would share in com­mon is that you don’t think about the na­ture of your child,” she said. “You be­lieve you’re bring­ing this life into your home and this child is as real to me and as au­then­ti­cally mine as if I gave birth to him.” The bond the three kids have forged, de­spite their dif­fer­ent pas­sions, has been a source of pride for the Wood­wards. “I love the di­ver­sity of our fam­ily,” Wood­ward said. “I love be­ing a father. To see the lessons that my wife and I teach them and the em­pa­thy they show the world. The care they have for other peo­ple means a lot. Giv­ing them those val­ues means a lot to me as a father.” Dur­ing the for­ma­tion of their fam­ily, through the heart­break, con­fu­sion and to ul­ti­mately a deep bond, Chris Wood­ward’s faith, although al­ways there, was for­ti­fied. Erin Wood­ward saw it up close. She felt it too. And she saw her hus­band, as a father, grow closer to God. “He’s such a hugely morally-driven per­son. I’ve known him for 20 years and he’s never said an un­kind word to me,” she said. “He makes the right choice all the time, and it’s ef­fort­less for him to live that way. It’s a beau­ti­ful thing to watch be­cause a lot of peo­ple strug­gle with that.” For Chris Wood­ward, fa­ther­hood has helped re­mind him that some­times the ran­dom­ness of life might also be the work of a higher power. “With Ma­son, that was kind of a mo­ment — whether you want to ad­mit it or not or be­lieve in it or not — sig­nif­i­cant things have hap­pened in my life that lead me to be­lieve that there’s some­thing [big­ger] at work,” he said. “I’m not an overly re­li­gious per­son, but there’s some­thing go­ing on.”

KELLY GAVIN Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers man­ager Chris Wood­ward and wife, Erin, have three chil­dren, So­phie, 17, Grady, 9, and adopted son, Ma­son, who is 12.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.