Fluvanna Community Church Newsletter
by Scott Kindberg
But all is not what it seemed.
“Baseball controlled my life and I had developed a mind-set that I was going to chase this dream until I reached all the goals I had set for myself,” the Jamestown native said. “I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way. When you’re starting out in a career, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that attitude, but ultimately it’s going to lead to disappointment.”
During an Expos’ road trip to San Francisco in 1986, Lunetta sat in his hotel room and realized there was “something missing from my life”
“There was this black hole and I couldn’t put a finger on it” he said. “I really felt lost.” So he called Tim Burke, a Montreal relief pitcher, and asked him for help. Burke, a Christian, was in Lunetta’s room within five minutes. The meeting changed Lunetta’s life.
“You have to understand Tim to know what a special person he is,” said Lunetta, who is now the director of minor league administration for the Florida Marlins. “I saw something in him that was very special and I was drawn very much to the things he was saying to me. That night I accepted Christ, and from that point on I began a program of Bible studies and started to learn about scriptures.”
His life no longer revolved around baseball and having a good time. Rather, it puts Jesus Christ front and center. “I never reverted back to the life I had lived prior to that time,” Luneta said.
Yet, as he found out a Christian isn’t immune from problems. Two years later, in 1968, Lunetta was out of baseball, walking away from Montreal and the sport he loved.
“When I realized I was allowing baseball to control my life, God started to work in some very (unusual) ways,” Lunetta said. “He started to pull some things away from me. I didn’t realize what was taking place. In retrospect, at that point in my life, my spiritually wasn’t strong and really hadn’t been tested. All of a sudden some things started to be pulled away from me… I understood that God was working His way into my life to allow me to see some things I hadn’t been able to see. I was blinded because I’d poured so much of myself info baseball.”
Lunetta’s “ultimate crash,” as he calls it, came when he resigned from the Expos and spent six months away from the game.
“Baseball wasn’t bringing to me what I always thought it would,” he said. “All of a sudden, there was shallowness, emptiness. When I left the game, I had to come full circle with who I really was and who I stood for. It was very, very painful time in my life, and I didn’t enjoy going through. Looking back, I’m able to say how valuable a learning experience it was. I had something that I dearly loved taken away.”
It was then Lunetta realized he needed to evaluate where he was in his spiritual life. After plenty of introspection, he recognized he needed to lean only on God. “At times people claim to use their spirituality and faith in God when they’re going through difficult times and people will say it’s a crutch,” he said. “It’s not a crutch. If there’s one area in our lives that can provide all the stability we need, it’s our faith. That’s an area in life where we should never be disappointed, because God will never disappoint us.”
Six months after leaving the Expos, Lunetta found work as the traveling secretary to the Cincinnati Reds. Then he was back in the game. His prayers had been answered. But it was hardly baseball’s answer to paradise.
“Working for the Reds was my single most difficult challenge,” he said. “Every day spent with Cincinnati was a new challenge. What compounded that was fact we went through the ordeal with Pete (Rose).”
Rose was eventually banned from baseball and Lunetta, like so many others in the Cincinnati front office, was let go. He eventually ended up in Rochester, a Triple A farm team of the Baltimore Orioles, for one season before landing his current job with the Marlins in the fall of 1991.
Now married, Lunetta and his wife Jhoanna are expecting their first child in September. They live in Melbourne Florida, and attend First Baptist Church of Merritt Island.
Life couldn’t be better.
“We sometimes don’t see how God is working in our life until we’re brought around full circle or he shakes us up with something painful,” Lunetta said. “We have to endure some pain and heartache to appreciate all that we have.”
Lunetta appreciates he family and close friends for their continued support. “I’ve been incredibly blessed to have the people around me that I do,” he said.
He’s also very thankful to have God in his corner.
“Every time I have drifted, a little or a lot, I’ve always reaffirmed my belief that God has His hands on me.”
The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.