After the Spotlight: J.D. Drew

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, August 14th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Fame is fleeting. There’s an old military saying that the cemeteries are filled with “indispensable men.”

We read a version of that pretty plainly in the book of Ecclesiastes, when King Solomon says: “For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance.”

Public people whose names are in the news don’t stay there forever. They must return to private lives once the prime of a career is over. 

So what happens then? That’s the subject of a new, occasional series we’re launching today that we’re calling “After the Spotlight.” Whether it’s a professional athlete, a child actor, or a star musician—we’ll explore what’s happening in the second act.

EICHER: The spotlight was very bright for the man we visit today. He put up arguably the best offensive season in college baseball history. He went on to become a Major League Baseball All-Star Game MVP. And a World Series champion. 

But today he’s a homeschool dad in a small town in Georgia. WORLD Radio’s J.C. Derrick caught up with him.

J.C. DERRICK, REPORTER: When J.D. Drew left home in 1994, baseball immediately put him into the national spotlight. 

He slugged Florida State to two College World Series appearances in three seasons. He was a first-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft. And over a 14-year career, he played in the postseason eight times. 

CLIP: Back is Sizemore…Grand slam Drew!

After almost two decades in the spotlight, Drew returned home in 2011 to Hahira, Georgia—only a few miles from where he grew up. 

Now, those cheering fans have been replaced… with squealing kids. 

AUDIO: [Kids laughing, squealing]

Five kids, to be exact. 

DREW: Henry, don’t swing that around, OK? 

Jack is 13, the oldest. Then there’s 11-year-old Ella, 7-year-old Lucy, 5-year-old Henry, and 3-year-old John.

The Christian faith of J.D. and Sheigh Drew plays a central role in their post-baseball life. They’re members of Covenant Baptist Church in nearby Valdosta, where J.D. teaches middle-schoolers. He’s also an active board member for The Mailbox Club—an organization that provides Bible lessons to children around the world.

Their faith also motivates the decision to homeschool. 

DREW: Ultimately, the reason we homeschool is to give our kids a foundational understanding of Biblical principles—what God wants them to do in obedience to the Bible, and…

During the school year, Sheigh oversees the education of the older three children. And the younger two spend a lot of time with dad. 

DREW: I usually take Henry and John with me. We run a lot of errands in town. Being a baseball player, and being on the go all the time and traveling all over the country to play—for me to just sit here and do housework all day would drive me insane, so I usually take Henry and John with me. 

So J.D. spends a lot of time outdoors. When he’s not hunting or fishing, he’s often working on his 20-acre property. John MacArthur sermons help pass the time while he’s mowing on his 72-inch eXmark ZTR.

DREW: Basically everything everyone else hires out when they go to work has become my job. I told my wife, I said, ‘You’re married to the best pool guy, lawn maintenance man, chef…She’s like, ‘Yeah, I got it made!’

On this day, J.D. wears the hat of tree-trimmer. He grabs an electric chainsaw and heads to the back yard. 

AUDIO: [Sound of electric chainsaw]

The goal is to cut the limbs back enough to paint the play set. But he doesn’t trim them smoothly against the tree. 

DERRICK: Are you going to get this—that one right there?
DREW: This here?
DREW: Nah, I figure the kids will want to climb on it… I always think ahead for like climbing bars and stuff. 

After hauling the branches to the burn pile, J.D. takes his utility vehicle for a spin around the property to check on his many crops. 

DREW: So I put this little fruit orchard—this is just pear trees, and I’ve got some citrus over here. Those are like tangerines, oranges, whatever…

The Drews are basically running a mini-farm. There are grapefruit, plum, and lemon trees, plus blueberries and blackberries. He also grows beans, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, and more.

J.D. says he was even more aggressive in his farming efforts immediately after retirement but canning his own green beans and tomatoes was exhausting. 

DREW: I quickly learned the benefit of buy one get one free at Publix on certain things that I like. [laugh]

After lunch and some errands, it’s time to hit the lake with a friend. 

DREW: Oh, he’s jumping… Reel him in! … Oh, look at her! 

In less than three hours on the water, J.D. hauls in a dozen large bass. 

Back home, he immediately carves them up to cook with dinner. 

DREW: Kind of a sound of victory at the end of the day, if you get to hear this.

Soon, seasoned filets are sizzling on the stovetop. 

DREW: Hey, we had a fun day.
DERRICK: What all’s in your seasoning?
DREW: I just use a little bit of flour. Well, actually, I roll them in mustard, and then I lightly dredge them in flour, so it just has a little crust on it. 

To many, there’s nothing unusual about this dinner scene. But Sheigh remembers the first decade of their marriage. Evenings were much more lonely then.

SHEIGH: When he was in baseball, we didn’t have dinners together at night, like most normal families. So, when he retired and kinda took over my kitchen and started preparing all the meals, even to this day, there’s honestly hardly a night that I don’t sit down and just savor and appreciate that we’re all sitting down together having a dinner.

Before bed, J.D. does nightly devotions with the kids. The house isn’t spotless, but Sheigh says that’s okay. 

SHEIGH: I really like a clean, organized house. And with us homeschooling, and all seven of us being at home together all day, the house is just messy—all the time. But it’s worth it.

You might expect the house to be filled with baseball memorabilia, but there’s only one piece on display—the World Series trophy sitting on a living room shelf. J.D.’s focus is elsewhere now.

DREW: We’re called as believers to impact the home, impact the kids. I want my kids to fear God and understand that, ultimately, the purpose we’re here for is to honor and glorify him.

For WORLD Radio, I’m J.C. Derrick reporting from Hahira, Georgia.

(Photo/Drew family)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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