Author gives insight into faith as performance-enhancing drug

Author and journalist Tony Castro gave a lecture on Thursday about the importance of faith in sports and on the recent addition of his research to the Texas Collection. Photo Courtesy of Carlye Thornton

By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer

In a world of endless performance enhancers, author Tony Castro considers faith among the most effective.

John Wilson, director of the Texas Collection, welcomed guest speaker and Baylor alumnus Tony Castro on Thursday by explaining that Castro’s relationship with the Texas Collection began when he called to ask if Baylor would have an interest in archiving his papers after he had received interest from the University of Texas.

Castro is working on a dual-biography of baseball legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He is a native of Waco and a graduate of Baylor University. His work as a journalist and author has earned several awards. His most popular works to date include “DiMag & Mick,” “Looking for Hemingway” and “The Prince of South Waco.”

“In my research, I’ve found piety has become an unregulated performance enhancer in modern-day sports,” Castro said. “From pre-game prayers to skyward points after a home run, we’ve made the Lord an unwitting, yet amused spectator.”

Castro used Astros second baseman José Altuve as an example. He pointed out that Altuve does the sign of the cross (because he’s Catholic) and points up at the sky before every at bat.

“He was pointing up to the sky,” Castro said. “He wasn’t pointing up to Nike or any of his endorsers. Who could he be pointing up to?”

Castro also talked about how many of the athletes who take a stand for their faith get ridiculed for it. He used the example of Tim Tebow, who became known for “tebowing,” which is “to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.” He even went so far as to call Tebow his hero.

“Unfortunately, religion in sports is something no one wants to hear about,” Castro said. “Sports writers don’t want to hear about it. Movie writers make it the butt of jokes.”

Castro said he thought that Baylor should use its athletic teams to publicly demonstrate its beliefs.

“Baylor is the largest Baptist university in the world,” Castro said. “Wouldn’t it be something if the football team would represent that?”

Since Castro is a Waco native, many of his friends and family were present for his lecture, including his wife and aunt. Castro was excited to be back at Baylor and to receive a tour of the “new” campus.

“We were so excited to add Tony Castro’s talk to our fall lecture series,” said Carlye Thornton, communications coordinator for Baylor Libraries. “Aside from welcoming him back to his alma mater, we got to hear about his take on religious presence in sports. His unique realm of research is a wonderful addition to the Baylor Libraries.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story had an image of John Wilson, director of the Texas Collection, who had been misidentified as Tony Castro.

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