Like many other thousands of missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving has made a lasting impact on the life of Utah relief pitcher Blake Whiting.
His two-year missionary service in the Dominican Republic also had a major impact on his baseball career.
It was during his time in the Dominican Republic that he received an improbable scholarship to play the sport—from Salt Lake Community College—and he was also surrounded by people obsessed with baseball.
Though he had to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture, in away, Whiting felt right at home in the Caribbean country.
While he was a student at Oakdale High in central California, Whiting wasn’t sure that a mission was right for him.
“I was really skeptical about going on a mission,” he said. “I didn’t want to go foreign and learn a new language. I was a picky eater. I never left California.”
But after he decided to serve, Whiting started researching the places where major league players have served. He found that several had served in Spanish-speaking countries.
For example, Jeremy Guthrie, a former Kansas City Royals starter who pitched for five MLB teams in 13 seasons, served in Spain. Scott Nielsen, who pitched at BYU, served a mission in Argentina. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Seattle Mariners in 1983 and played for the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and the New York Mets.
When Whiting received his call to the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission, speaking Spanish, any concerns he may have had subsided.
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