Most men never discover what they’ve got inside. A man has to face up to trouble before he knows.”
–Louis L’Amour (The Daybreakers)
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
–Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
“We loved the game, even doubleheaders–especially doubleheaders. Oh, how I loved them! They gave us the chance to play two games instead of only one. If they had wanted us to play three, we would have been happy to.”
Baseball! For a decade of my life I lived and breathed baseball. If I wasn’t playing or practicing I was watching it on TV and if it was the off-season I had a game I invented. I had 5 or 6 teams and kept stats over the season. I could tell you almost every player on every team. If you ask me now, I would struggle to name a handful.
It was my dream, my passion, and my hope. It wasn’t until I went into the military that the Lord finally changed my priorities. Even then, at my first assignment I played on three fastpitch softball teams. But things changed, time has changed, the game has changed–I have changed.
I rarely watch a game anymore. So many changes to the game! There are very few students of the game. Now it is “digital”, meaning, feed information into the computer and adjust your defense accordingly. What happened to studying the way the person stood in the batter’s box, the way he swung at a fastball?
Can you imagine Ty Cobb playing today? Some said he was a dirty player, not so, but he played with determination to win. I remember I couldn’t wait to wear steel cleats. The first time I covered second base with someone stealing, his name was Russ Hyder, he cut me across the shins. No, I didn’t sit down and whimper and cry, or throw my glove down and throw a tantrum. It was a lesson learned and I figured a better way to cover the bag. But, that wasn’t my last or only cut.
I think of the likes of Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale. They would be persona non grata today for the person at bat after a homerun would definitely be knocked down. It was expected, it was part of the game. I remember reading what 300-game-winner Early Wynn said. Someone told him that he would knock down his grandmother if she went to bat against him. He was very solemn with his answer, “Only if she was digging in.”
I don’t mind watching the Houston Astros too much. At least they do some of the things that make the game and they have fun. Are they digital? Yes.
Let me close this out with some great baseball quotations. Yes, they are from players from a by-gone era–my era and before.
“Baseball has a funny way of giving us treasured memories.” (Brooks Robinson)
“When you watch baseball at its best, there’s a tendency to forget the real world.” (Mickey Mantle)
“Baseball is like church. Many attend, but few understand.” (Wes Westrum)
“Nobody ever said, ‘Work ball!’ They say, ‘Play ball!’ To me, that means having fun.” (Willie Stargell)
“The only real game in the world, I think, is baseball.” (Babe Ruth)
After I quit playing, I didn’t touch a baseball again for another decade. I did coach for several years, but it was then I began to notice the change. I had few with talent, and I had even fewer that would take the time to work on their talent. Strikes in the pros–demanding more money and mercy, asking these players to play a doubleheader today would be a ridiculous request; it would be too physically demanding. I saw a question on TV about what baseball records would never be broken. I would say for sure Cy Young’s record of 749 complete games. After so many pitches, the pitcher is gone. Oh well…
How is this a spiritual devotion? First of all, what you find yourself doing and thinking about is who/what you love most. Do you find yourself living and breathing the Word of God? Hmmmm. You need to be a student of the Word; “Study to show yourself approved.” Perhaps you are negligent or even flippant when it comes to the Word of God. Hmmm. Are you into your Bible, and I don’t mean the phone you carry around, or perhaps you are a “digital” Christian? You do what you want, and then when the Scripture brings conviction you pass if off and say that’s just your opinion.
Just don’t hand me a baseball…I might start to cry.
“What a great day for baseball. Let’s play two.” (Ernie Banks)