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Baseball player turns dream into home run

Mountain Grove Baptist Church in South Boston gave a warm welcome to fellow member and retired Major League Baseball player Tony Womack on Sunday when he came to speak at the church’s black history celebration.

“I came back to celebrate Black History Month with my church family and to let them know if I can touch anybody to help fulfill their dream, I’m here to help,” Womack said.

Womack said he understands the importance of Black History Month and appreciates those who have paved the way for him and others like himself.

“The achievements of black people during Black History Month is to be honored by us because they laid the foundation for where we are today, and we must say thanks. As a celebrity myself, I’m hoping I can open bigger doors and create better paths for the ones behind me,” Womack said.

The topic of Womack’s speech was “How do you want to get to where you want to go? Your desire, dream and vision.”

“There are three things that are going to make you successful in life: one is how hungry are you; two is what kind of picture are you painting; number three is if you’ve ever seen a horse race, they don’t look backwards. They only see one way — that’s straight ahead,” Womack said.

Womack said the hunger he had was proving to himself he was good enough to do it. The picture he painted was he didn’t want to work every day, and when he looks ahead he said he doesn’t look at the money. He sees the finish line and what he has accomplished.

“When you have the desire, when you have a dream, that vision, there’s nothing that can stop you from getting where you want to,” Womack said.

Womack recognized three people he felt had the desire, dream and vision.

w The first was Jackie Robinson, and Womack confesses if it weren’t for him, he wouldn’t be in the position he is in today.

w Second was Michael Jordan who he actually had a chance to meet.

w Third he credits his family for keeping him happy and where he is.

Womack’s message to the younger people is to “go for what you want and through thick and thin offer no excuses, play like a champion.

“I hope the audience understands that you have to have a plan to get where you want to go and to believe in it and stick to it,” Womack added.

He said he knows this first hand after having a very successful career in major league baseball.

Womack   started playing organized baseball at the age of 14.

“Before that I was just playing in the back yard with family and friends,” Womack said.

Womack was drafted in 1991 by the Pittsburgh Pirates his junior year at Guilford College which he notes as his biggest accomplishment in baseball.

“The biggest accomplishment for me in baseball was getting drafted. If I hadn’t gotten drafted, I wouldn’t have had a chance to create personal accomplishments,” Womack said.

In 1997 he played in his only all-star game. Womack played for the Pirates until 1998 when he was traded to the Arizona Diamond Backs.

In 2001, Womack earned a World Series championship with the Arizona Diamond Backs.

Womack won the Lou Brock Award for leading the league in stolen bases for three seasons and also received the Roberto Clemente award for his work with in the community while playing for the Pirates.

Throughout his 13-year career, Womack played for six other Major League Baseball teams including the Colorado Rockies, the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds.

“The most important thing I enjoyed about being a professional is that I’m at the highest level there is for a sport no matter what city I’m traveling to,” Womack said. “The least thing I enjoyed was being away from my family.”

Womack has been married for 17 years to Janet Womack, and they have two children, Jessica and Alsander.

Womack has learned much during his years as a professional athlete and hopes to instill what he has learned into his own children.

“The biggest life lesson baseball has brought to me is, through all the good and bad, God is an on-time God, and he is never late. That faith and belief and hard work will get me where I want to go. It has helped me today as I now have to instill these values in my kids,” Womack said.

Womack donated a baseball field named “Womack Field” after his father who passed away over 10 years ago. The field was donated to Mountain Grove Baptist Church where his mother, Ramona Womack, continues to faithfully attend.

“I only donated the field because baseball is all I know, and we need to keep our kids active whether they use the field for practice games or for just pure exercise,” Womack said.

Known for stealing bases, Womack is now stealing hearts.

Since his retirement, Womack has been working with his charity “Stealing Hearts,” which he and his wife established in 2009 to provide outreach worthy causes in the community.

“You have to give back to your community so the tradition or cycle continues for the younger generations. To me, this is one cycle I would truly love to be a part of and to continue,” Womack said.

He also plays golf, gives baseball lessons and even finds the time to take his children to school.

To Womack the future looks crystal clear.

When asked about these plan, he replied, “My plans for the future are simple, enjoy my family and take life to the longest and fullest and be the best family man.”