Ricky Horton (web)

Ricky Horton

By Steve Raymond

News Report Staff

Some remember Ricky Horton when he pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and helped them win National League pennants in 1985 and 1987.

Some may remember when he pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers and helped them win a World Series championship in 1988.

Still others recognize his name, face and voice as a current part of the Cardinals broadcasting team on KMOX radio and the Fox Sports Midwest cable TV station.

But how many know he is a dedicated Christian and has served as director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter in St. Louis since 1993?

Horton was the guest speaker at the FCA Night of Champions banquet last week in Effingham. He did share some stories from his playing days, from college through the Major Leagues.

But his emphasis was on FCA and his personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Sports are a big deal in our culture,” Horton said. “I’m not sure it should be, but it is.

“Did you know 98 percent of all Americans follow a sports team?” he asked. “FCA was formed because sports are so important. Our focus is on athletes and coaches. We want to influence our teams for Christ.”

Horton was an engineering major at the University of Virginia. He said he was the type of person that needed everything proven to him. He also pointed out that a Christian life was something he wasn’t familiar with at all.

“I learned about that from a teammate in college,” Horton noted. “That’s how I came to Christ. I know how powerful it can be to have a teammate share the gospel. And that’s what we’re hoping to develop through FCA.”

Horton talked about the importance of a team aspect, which he said is one of the reasons FCA appeals to so many youth. He also noted the key parts of TEAM – Togetherness, Encouragement, Acceptance and Mentoring.

“The gospel is true and simple,” Horton said. “God is God and we’re not. We’re sinful and need a Saviour. Christ paid for our sins. The choice is ours to believe by faith.”

He also talked about the important role the coaches play.

“They serve as mentors that are standing and pointing athletes in the right direction,” Horton emphasized. “These coaches can have a tremendous impact on the youth. It’s important they love the sport they coach and that they love their kids.

“A large number of the kids that come to the FCA Huddles are not involved in a church at all,” he added. “But FCA gives them a chance to hear and learn about Christ.”

Horton encouraged those in attendance to support FCA through their prayers, finances and time.

“FCA wants to surround people with the gospel,” he said.

Kyle Stortzum and Kimberlin Michaels, the local FCA staff members, also spoke briefly.

“Our schools are filled with kids that don’t have much hope,” Stortzum said. “As a parent, I want my child surrounded by people who love Christ. One coach that loves Jesus can make a difference.”

“We see the impact the coaches are having,” Michaels added. “God is at work in so many ways. We want our coaches to go beyond just winning games. Our goal is to work with and help every one of those coaches.”

It was pointed out there are more than 200 coaches in the Effingham area.

Tom Fish, a member of the FCA Board of Directors, served as the emcee.

He noted the FCA was founded in 1954. He pointed out that FCA celebrated nearly 50,000 decisions for Jesus Christ in 2017.

“There is a purpose and reason for FCA,” Fish said. “FCA is here to stay.”