Brian Shouse, the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher and a Washington resident, spoke to a group of 283 people at the Washington Chamber of Commerce’s 15th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast early Thursday morning.



His message to everyone was one of perseverance and faith.


Brian Shouse, the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher and a Washington resident, spoke to a group of 283 people at the Washington Chamber of Commerce’s 15th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast early Thursday morning.

His message to everyone was one of perseverance and faith.

“I knew when I was 12 years old I wanted to live my life according to God,” Shouse said.
Shouse, who played baseball at Bradley University from 1987 to 1990 and is in the Bradley Braves Hall of Fame, said he thought it would be an easy ride in the Major Leagues when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990.

“It didn’t quite work out that way,” he said.

After a lot of ups and downs in the Major Leagues, he was 30 years old when he went to play for the Kintetsue Buffaloes in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Osaka, Japan.

Like many baseball players, he said he believed it was the end of his professional baseball career and that he would have to come home and move on with his life.

“After my family left, I was in Japan for about six to eight weeks by myself and I spent a lot of time alone,” Shouse said. “I had my Bible with me and I really got closer to Christ and realized I had to put him first, in front of baseball.”

When he returned to the U.S., Shouse signed a contract with the Kansas City Royals and has been playing in the Major Leagues ever since.

“Putting Christ first took the pressure off me; God tells us, ‘Follow me and I will take care of you.’ God helped my family hold it together throughout the years,” Shouse said.

After his speech, audience members asked questions about a variety of topics including his favorite stadium in which to play, who is the easiest and most difficult player for him to strike out and advice for parents with children interested in sports.

He was also asked why he and his wife, Trish, chose to live in Washington with their three daughters, Haleigh, Emma and Daisy.

“We felt we needed to make roots somewhere and be near family for their support,” Shouse said.
He and his wife moved to Washington from Peoria, where her parents, Ron and Julia Whittaker currently live, five years ago.

Shouse signed baseballs for everyone after the breakfast.

Also present Thursday morning were Mayor Gary Manier, Morton Mayor Norm Durflinger, East Peoria Mayor Dave Mingus and Pekin Mayor Rusty Dunn.

Manier said he thought the attendance of so many regional leaders was great.

“They believe not only in this community but of this entire region,” Manier said. “And this region is not afraid to pray.”

“These men believe in one another. We’re not competing any longer. Mayor Jim Ardis said it best:
‘What’s good for Washington is good for Peoria. What’s good for Morton is good for Peoria, what’s good for East Peoria is good for Peoria and what’s good for Pekin is good for Peoria,’” Manier said.

He also recognized Bob Summer, whose wife, Joan, was in attendance. Summer started the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Washington 15 years ago after attending Peoria’s Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

“Today at city hall, we fly a flag in honor and memory of Bob Summer,” Manier said.

Dave Snell, the voice of the Bradley Braves, was master of ceremonies.

He spoke about the influence of John Bachman on his life.

“He told me to be as good a broadcaster as I can be, but to be an even better person. Dave Snell is a Christian first and a play-by-play broadcaster fortunate enough to do what he loves, a distant second,” Snell said.