Take a Swing at It
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“Take a Swing at It,” New Era, May 1990, 29

Take a Swing at It

This is not your basic story of a super-achieving LDS family where everyone gets straight A pluses, wins international symphony competitions, trains for the Olympics, and trudges ten miles through the snow to get to seminary every morning. No. This is the story of a family that simply steps up to the plate and swings, regardless of the challenges they face.

Challenges don’t intimidate the Drummonds. They never have. When Heather decided she wanted to go out for baseball, she didn’t think twice about the fact that there are no girls’ teams in her area. Today the petite 15-year-old with long dark hair and bangs is the only girl playing on boys’ teams in her league, and she’s doing pretty well.

Then there’s tall, thin, 17-year-old Christopher. He didn’t let the fact that millions of boys all over the country dream of being a batboy for a professional baseball team stop him. He went right up to the personnel office of the California Angels, applied, and landed the position. It wasn’t half as difficult as he thought it would be.

Heather and Christopher take their cue from their father, Tom Drummond, who, when he got custody of his two children over 12 years ago, decided he would be the best parent he could be, with or without the support of a wife. And later, when he was introduced to the Church, he decided to take on the challenges and blessings of membership and hopefully share them with his children.

Heather was the first one to follow his lead. “I took the discussions and started going to church with my dad,” she said. “I knew some of the girls at church who played on my soccer team, and they were really nice. Everybody seemed really nice there, and joining the Church just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Christopher took a little longer. “A couple of sets of missionaries taught me, and I just didn’t know about it. But then one came along who helped me see everything was right in the Church. He talked baseball, and he showed me things in the scriptures too, and I knew. Then my dad baptized me.”

Good Sports

By now, it would be impossible not to note that sports, baseball in particular, play a big part in the Drummonds’ lives. Heather and Christopher have both been playing since they were about three years old, and since they live in southern California, they’re able to play in leagues all year round. Tom, a self-employed architect, makes it to almost every single game.

Baseball has formed a strong bond in their lives, even though Christopher takes some flak because his sister is the only girl playing on a boys’ team in their league—“You better watch out, Christopher. Your little sister’s gonna take your place!” And Heather says she doesn’t see a lot of her brother because he’s usually either working at Anaheim stadium or playing ball. Baseball is still a common interest that ties the family together, when they could be going in some very different directions.

When the gospel came into their lives about four years ago, it brought an even stronger bond. There’s a lot more to share now than box scores and batting averages. They share prayer, church meetings, scriptures, and a concept of the eternal unit their family is. “We have family home evening,” says Christopher. “I really like that. We talk or read or play games. Sometimes we go out to dinner or a movie or over to another family’s house. That’s a really good thing.”

Not All Talk

The Drummonds are not the most outspoken kids in the world. They’re doers rather than talkers. But they will open up if you ask. Heather, for example, will tell you that she doesn’t feel short-changed by not growing up with a mother. “I’ve lived with guys all my life, so I do the things they do,” she says. “But I also do girl things. My best friends are girls. I don’t think growing up only with guys has hurt me.” Heather has her own ways of asserting her femininity. In the dugout, for example, even though she tucks her long brown hair up under her cap and wears a bulky uniform like the rest of the players, you can’t miss her because she’s the one wearing pink lipstick. And sometimes, when the other players lose their tempers and start swearing, they’re quickly reminded that a girl is present when Heather tells them, “Hey—watch your language!” And, she says, “They usually apologize.”

“Some of the guys I play with are kind of mean,” says Heather. “They say the only reason I’m on the team is because the coach doesn’t know how to cut a girl. I have to play extra hard to overcome that. I’ve been tempted to quit, but when I am, I just tell myself I have to stick in there, because everyone would think I can’t handle it. I can handle it,” she says with conviction, and you don’t doubt her.

When prodded, Christopher will tell you some of his deeper feelings, too. Things like his biggest fear about serving a mission is not that it will break up his baseball career, but that he will never know enough about the gospel to teach it to other people. “Missionaries know so much,” he says. He seems relieved to learn that the Spirit blesses missionaries with special knowledge as they strive to learn and grow.

Surprisingly enough, he’ll also tell you that working with some of the greatest baseball players in the world, and even, on occasion, getting to travel with the team, is not as big a deal as some people would think. “Oh, the players are really nice and everything—especially Wally Joyner—he’s Mormon too. But it’s just a basic, normal job. I’m paid by the hour, minimum wage. The food is good though. We get to eat with the players, and the Angels have one of the best chefs in professional baseball.” Still, Christopher says he likes the ballpark hotdogs about the best.

Making the Grades

As involved as the Drummonds are in sports, you might think their grades would suffer a bit. But not so. “They’re both on the honor roll,” says their dad. “They have to maintain B averages. That’s my rule. And no underwater basketweaving or sandwich making courses, either.” He then goes on to recite their schedules—solid, difficult classes every one, with the exception of baseball, which the Drummonds take very seriously. Of course, since Tom made the rules, he’s always there to help his kids accomplish them. It’s not uncommon to find the family studying together in the evenings.

The Drummonds just seem to look right through challenges. They’re not afraid to take on demanding classes, to be the only girl on local baseball teams, to work with professional baseball players, or to join a church that outlines a brand-new lifestyle. Quietly, solidly, without a lot of fanfare or hype, they step up to the plate and take their swings at the good pitches that come their way.

Photography by Lisa A. Johnson

“I got good enough to play with the guys by playing all my life. And I’ve gotten help from my dad and my brother. If I believe in myself, that really helps, and the Church helps me to do that.”—Heather

“A lot of the players (on the Angels) are really nice, but, they’re not my role models. My dad is a role model, I guess. And there are a lot of great people in the Church. I have a friend there who will do anything for you. He’s a good example to me.”—Christopher

“I’d had some contact with the Church before, but when I started coaching my kids’ baseball and soccer teams, I noticed a lot of the other kids involved were Mormon. I asked their parents about it, and before I knew it I was reading the Book of Mormon and going to the meetings.”—Tom