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Bernie Carbo: A Major League Confession

CBN.com It’s one of baseball’s most memorable moments. Bernie Carbo blasted a three-run homer in game 6 of the 1975 World Series, leading to a Red Sox victory. While the world of baseball applauded Bernie, there was one person who never acknowledged his accomplishments…his father. 

“I remember in Detroit playing one game where I hit a home run into the upper deck," Bernie tells The 700 Club. "I mean, I crushed. I came out of the ball park, and my dad’s talking about being better than Jimmy Rice and Freddie Lynn and me. I said, "Better than Freddie Lynn? Better than Jimmy Rice? Better than me? There’s one difference between all three of us men. I played in the big leagues. I’m playing in the big leagues. I just hit one in the upper deck. When are you going to say, good work, son, I’m real proud of you playing in the big leagues?'"

Bernie grew up playing baseball in Detroit. His parents’ relationship was constantly on the rocks largely because of his father’s drinking and infidelity.

“When my father would come home at night in the early part of mom's and dad’s marriage, he would smell. I knew my mother knew that he was committing adultery.”

Bernie desperately sought the approval of his father, but his dad showed little interest in anything he did.

“I was an only son. I was the apple of her eye. She loved me very much. I became my mother’s everything, because of the choices my dad made. I think my dad became very resentful because my mother catered to me.”

Bernie channeled all of his energy into baseball and in 1970 made it to the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. During his rookie season, Carbo hit 21 home runs and had 62 RBIs. He was an instant success. But with all the accolades came the pressure to perform every single game. So Bernie turned to drugs and alcohol to take the pressure off ,and it quickly became an addiction. 

“When you experiment with drugs, the first high that you receive from the drug that you are taking, you try to emulate that same high. It’s impossible. When I’d get up in the morning, I’d smoke a couple of joints and drink a couple of beers, then eat and then smoke a couple of more joints. Go to the ball park. If the cocaine was available, I would probably do cocaine from morning ‘till night.”

In 1974, he was traded to Boston from St. Louis. Still Bernie’s father showed no interest in his son’s accomplishments. Bernie was hurt and angry. So to hide his pain he took more drugs.

“I said that I would not have an unhappy day in my life. If that meant smoking and drinking and chasing women and doing cocaine and crystal meth and mescaline, I was going to live my life to the fullest.”

Over the next five years, Bernie’s play on the field began to spiral down. He moved between five different teams until his big league career came to an end in 1980. After baseball he went into business for himself. Then in 1989 he received news that his mother had committed suicide and two months later his father died.

“I took a lot of the responsibility for my mother’s suicide because of the drugs and the alcohol and the money that I was taking from them to support me. This is when I really realized that I had a problem. I took all that I had inherited, which was $118,000, $125,000, [and] I spent it in two to three months on cocaine and crystal meth, drugs, and things. And this is where I came to a point in my life that I no longer wanted to live.”

Then one night Bernie decided to take his life. But an anxiety attack sent him to the hospital instead.

 “I thought I had a heart attack, because that was the first time that I had an anxiety attack. I ended up in the hospital. I ended up with this old man, and he asks me question. He said, 'Do you know God and do you know Jesus?' I looked at him and said, no.”     

For the next two days Bernie’s hospital roommate talked to him about God.

“He started teaching me the things that I needed to understand by faith. Believing with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength. God loves you. God created you, Bernie Carbo, to love God. And He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross. His blood was shed. The resurrection is that I can turn away from my sin and run to Jesus. So for the next two days I was like a little boy sitting with my grandpa, learning the Word, and I just wanted more and more of it.”

Bernie gave his life to Jesus Christ. He’s 63 years old now, happily married to Tammie, and together they help run the Diamond Club Ministries, which focuses on teaching kids and all who will listen about the love of Jesus Christ.      

“This is where my heart is to tell people no matter what you’re going through, no matter what’s happened in your life, through the Lord or God, our Jesus Christ, our Savior, the healing power of Christ, you can heal. You can turn away from the world. You can turn away from the weakness. You can have victory in all the things that have happened in your life.”

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