ATLANTA (BP)—There’s no telling how many hours Scott McHugh and his wife Teresa have spent watching their son Collin play baseball over the years.
From little leagues, to high school ball in the hot Georgia sun, to his college years at Berry College, to five seasons in the minor leagues, Collin toiled through wins, losses, triumphs and failures —with his parents never far away.
Now they can say they watched him pitch on an even bigger stage, as Collin took to the mound for the Houston Astros, playing in his first World Series. He appeared in game 5 as a middle reliever, helping the Astros take a 3-2 series lead before heading back to Los Angeles, where the Astros claimed their first World Series title in game 7.
“It is a joy and delight for us to see him on that stage, all because we’ve watched him over the years and the process that he has gone through,” Scott McHugh said. “It is still surreal to us. It’s hard to imagine that your son is playing in the World Series.”
A former Southern Baptist pastor, Scott came to the Lord as a 20-year-old in college preparing for a career in the medical field. Within a couple of weeks of his conversion, he knew that the Lord was calling him into the ministry.
He left school in 1973 and began working in youth ministry a few months later at a church in Atlanta. Over the years he served in a variety of roles at churches in the Atlanta area before returning to college at Toccoa Falls to complete his undergraduate degree. He then graduated from Southwestern Seminary before moving to Naperville, Ill., to become a pastor.
In 1994, McHugh said he and his wife felt a strong call from the Lord to return to the Atlanta area. He started a church in Alpharetta and is now doing international work in Israel as president and CEO of Patriarch Global LLC.
The New York Mets drafted Collin out of Berry College in 2008. Over the next four years, he worked his way through the farm system—a sometimes grueling experience, especially for players like him who were drafted late, got small signing bonuses and often existed on little pay, lousy food and long bus rides. But then Collin got the call in 2012.
“Just to see that turn was an amazing thing,” Scott said. “We believe it was a God thing, that (God) has really given him not only determination but favor in the system.”
When Collin made his big league debut with the Mets—an impressive start in which he pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out nine and giving up just two hits—Scott and Teresa were there at Citi Field in New York.
Collin moved on to Colorado the following year for a brief stint before being released. After the Astros acquired him in 2014, he pitched just a few innings in the minor leagues before sticking with Houston for good. He won 11 games that year before an exceptional year in 2015 (19 wins, a 3.89 ERA and eighth in the Cy Young Award voting).
Collin suffered an elbow injury, causing him to miss most of this season, but he returned to win five games down the stretch. In the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, he pitched four scoreless innings in a loss in game three.
“In all of this, Collin and (his wife) Ashley have kept their love for the Lord and their understanding that they have a platform and, really, a responsibility to honor Him and to stay focused in their walk as well as manage this highest level baseball career,” Scott McHugh said.
In a recent Sports Spectrum article, Collin talked about how he continues to cling to God during the ups and downs that invariably come in baseball and in life.
“If I had a terrible year this year or got hurt this year or won the Cy Young or won the World Series, if any of these things happen, all the variables that could happen in baseball, it’s not going to change the way (God) feels about me, it’s not going to change anything,” Collin said.
“For me, this year, I’m just trying to enjoy the time God has given me to play this game that I really do love. Everything is kind of icing on the cake at this point. Obviously, I’m going to go out there and work my hardest, and give it everything that I have and try to do some great things in this game, but He has already given me so much that I want to tell people about it.”