Boyer calls mission trips 'life-changer'

Brewers reliever opens up about undercover work overseas

Boyer calls mission trips 'life-changer'

ST. LOUIS -- The most captivating part of the story may be the notion that two Major League Baseball players, active players in the heart of their careers, could wind up in brothels on the other side of the world, conducting undercover surveillance in an effort to rescue teenage girls from lives as sex slaves.

How did Blaine Boyer and Adam LaRoche get to that unlikeliest of positions last November? For Boyer, a Brewers reliever, the journey began five years ago in Arizona when he met a man named Matt Parker, the founder of an organization called Exodus Road committed to countering sex trafficking.

"His whole organization, their ministry, was extremely compelling, obviously," Boyer said. "You talk about modern day slavery, I think anybody would feel a pull or a tug to that."

Three years ago, Boyer introduced Parker to LaRoche, who was profiled this week in ESPN The Magazine and mentioned his undercover work with Boyer.

Boyer was initially reluctant to discuss the matter further, citing security concerns. But after reflecting for a day, Boyer, wearing a T-shirt with an image of his wife and two children, sat with reporters in the dugout at Busch Stadium and spoke with conviction about a cause that he called "a life-changer."

"It's something Adam and I are going to do for the rest of our lives," Boyer said. "It was an incredible experience with a group that's just absolutely amazing, what they're doing."

He prefers to share only a few details. The destination for the 10-day trip he took with LaRoche last November is secondary, Boyer said, because "the sex trafficking world is not just in one, small location, it's all over the place."

Asked what level of training he and LaRoche undertook before going undercover, Boyer said, "I'm going to stay away from that one, but there definitely is training involved."

What was the mission?

"Without getting too specific, we're looking for minors, people that might be held against their will," Boyer said. "That's probably all I want to elaborate on that, but that's the mission. To locate them, find them, and ultimately get them out."

Exodus Road, Boyer said, is only a small part of a massive, worldwide effort to rescue minors from trafficking. Based on reports he received later, Boyer is certain he and LaRoche made a difference in the lives of specific individuals.

After their story spread Wednesday, many wondered: Why would two ballplayers, with millions of dollars at stake, take such an enormous risk?

Boyer offered a quick answer.

"The simple answer to that is it has everything to do with our faith in God," he said. "I feel like we were compelled, and I feel like there was a stirring in our hearts. This is a fight that's going on. If Adam and I were to sit on the sidelines, I think there would be a way bigger issue. That's sitting on the sidelines rather than getting in the fight. I think anybody that was faced with what was going on and seeing what was going on, they would act accordingly.

"It was life changing, completely life changing. No doubt about it. This is something we're in for the long run, in whatever capacity it may be. We're in this."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.