NEWBERRY — The finale of the YMCA prayer breakfast concluded with Billy O’dell pitching some stories and encouragement to the youth Friday at Newberry College.
O’dell is a former major league baseball pitcher and Newberry native. He was born in Whitmire.
Now 79 years old, O’dell continues to speak to groups and at Friday’s breakfast, he had to condense years of stories and wisdom into mere minutes.
O’dell has played baseball since high school and says, “Baseball is good to me and everything I am is from baseball.”
He recalls a fellow baseball player and friend from San Franciso Giants who O’dell could count on as a friend.
O’dell says, “He was different than most men I’d met… He was a Christian.”
“We became great friends,” said O’dell who relays stories about him going to church and inviting him one night where the friend was to give his testimony despite speaking little English.
O’dell recalled how he wondered how his friend was different from him as far as being a Christian goes. He found out one night about what it takes to be a Christian and said he made a confession which changed his life.
O’dell had gone to church but that realization changed his life.
O’dell recalled stories from when he played in the major leagues using his sense of humor to draw out laughs for the youth.
YMCA director Eric Nelson ended the prayer breakfast series by thanking Jerry Coffee for starting this prayer breakfast tradition and hopes to continue it for many years.
He encouraged the youth to tell their friends and informed people that next year will be another great year for the tradition.