I had first heard the story of Jeff Weaver and Mike Sweeney's baseball brawl from Fr. Francis Mary Stone, a Franciscan Missionary of the Eternal Word, and the host of "Life on the Rock" on EWTN. Fr. Stone brought the incident up during a talk he gave at a day of prayer for men at the Most Blessed Sacrament Friary in Newark, NJ, home of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Fr. Stone used the story in the context of accountability for our actions; Sweeney called Weaver a few years after the brawl and they made peace with each other.
I heard it this time from the mouth of Mike Sweeney himself on the DVD Champions of Faith, produced by Catholic Exchange. This 65 minute DVD focuses on a handful of Major League baseball players and coaches; more specifically, it focuses on their Catholic faith in Jesus Christ which has helped them in their hardest times and given them the strength to excel in their passion, baseball. Sweeney's story is only one of the heart-warming (and sometimes tear-inducing) testimonies to Christ in Champions of Faith. Another truly touching account recalls God’s power to work across time and space to give a terminally-ill young woman words that would strengthen the faith of her family after her death.
In addition to the in-depth personal accounts of players and coaches, the DVD also covers aspects of the faith, such as the Eucharist – the Real Presence of Jesus Christ – attending Mass, and the importance of prayer. On the topic of the Real Presence, Mike Sweeney says, "a lot of people say, 'well, how can you believe that?' and I'm gonna say, 'well, why can't you believe that?'" Numerous players mentioned the temptation to skip Mass with their busy schedules, but that making that sacrifice to wake up an hour earlier or drive a little further is always worth it. They all recognize the worth of prayer and its role in their lives.
The DVD is inspiring for youth and adults. It encourages the younger generation because they can see their baseball heroes professing the same faith they themselves are growing in. It encourages adults because they can see busy professional baseball players finding the time and the courage to live out their faith in their public lives. All in all, I give the DVD 4 out of 4 stars, based on its content, its effectiveness, and its truth to the gospel of Jesus Christ upheld and proclaimed over the centuries by the Catholic Church.
See also the Italian Catholic's review of Champions of Faith.