Playing one of the heroes for the New York Yankees in the 1978
World Series was as exhilarating for Brian Doyle as it was out of
character with the rest of his big league career. During that
season, his first in the majors, Doyle had been shuffled between
Triple A Tacoma and New York five times. The next year he was
back in the minors again. In 1982, after a trade to the Oakland
Athletics and a separated shoulder, he retired with a lifetime
batting average of .161. But in that '78 Series, Doyle played the
games of his life.
Subbing for injured second baseman Willie Randolph, Doyle batted
.438 and did not commit an error in helping the Yankees beat the
Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. He finished behind teammate
Bucky Dent in balloting for Series MVP. A month later Brian and
his brothers, Denny, who played for three major league teams, and
Blake, who played in the minors, opened their long-planned Doyle
Academy in Winter Haven, Fla., providing instruction in baseball
and the Christian life to players five through 20 years old. "The
first week we opened, we were packed," says Brian, "and it was
because of that Series."
The Doyle brothers grew up in rural Cave City, Ky., and all three
married their high school sweethearts. Brian says he found Christ
in 1977, with the guidance of a minor league teammate.
Approximately half a million youngsters have attended Doyle
Academy camps (one-, two-and three-week sessions in Florida) and
clinics (one-and two-day programs around the country); Brian
estimates that 50 of them went on to play in the majors,
including J.D. Drew, Charles Johnson and Bill Pulsipher. Brian,
who lives in Winter Haven with his wife, Connie (they have two
grown children), is responsible for hiring instructors and
determining the camp and clinic regimen. Having been asked for
career advice by academy graduates over the years, the Doyle
brothers formally branched out into sports management in 2001.
They have 16 clients, all minor leaguers, and nonpaying
arrangements with 14 amateur players.
Just as Brian's faith was influential in the start-up of Doyle
Academy, it also helped him cope with late-stage leukemia in
1994. For two years he believed he was suffering from ulcers,
vertigo and other ailments. Then an arthritis specialist
diagnosed the cause of his joint pain and other symptoms. The
next day Brian began a radical course of treatment that included
two chemotherapy sessions a day for six months.
"My faith was my hope," says Brian, 48, who is in full remission.
"I remember grabbing my doctor by the shoulders--I had never met
him before--and saying, 'I've got one question: Are you here to
win?' He said yes, and I said, 'Let's go win.' I firmly believe
life is not how you start, it's how you finish. I want to be a
good finisher." --Bill Syken
brothers opened a baseball academy that they still operate.