Eight Years of Baseball

For eight long years, my eldest son has been fighting an uphill battle to play the game he loves: baseball.

It all started when he was 9 years old.  He told us he wanted to try baseball.  Believing that at his age he should try as many things as he could to see what he might like, we signed him up for rec ball.  My husband was his coach.  My son got to try every position.  It was all experimental.  One thing seemed certain: he would never be a catcher.

The season was a bit rocky with some conflicts in the dugout.  Our boy said he didn’t want to play baseball anymore.  We asked him why, and he said it was because he had been in a fight with one of the boys on the team.  We talked it through, resolved the internal conflicts he was experiencing, and signed him up for another year.

The next season, he was on a team with a parent coach.  Most of you probably know what it means to be on a team with a parent coach.  Most parent coaches want their sons to be the star of the team to the exclusion of everyone else.  (I will digress at this point to say that my husband does not act as a typical parent coach believing that everyone should play and try every position…to a point.)  This season would mark a long struggle with parent coaches in our lives.  Ricky spent a lot of time warming the bench his second year of baseball.

The following season we decided to join a different league.  We experienced yet another year of parent coaching.  My son came home crying several times.  However, we did not believe in quitting in the middle of a season.  So my husband had a heart-to-heart talk with him.  Apparently, my husband had observed that the coach really wanted to win, so he wanted hitters.  The conclusion?  “You either hit, or you sit.”   My son decided to hit.

Slowly gaining some notoriety for his hitting, my son moved into the next season.  During an initial practice, the parent coach was deciding who the pitchers would be.  He went through all the “names” in the group and let them try.  Then he said, “That’s it.  I have all my pitchers.”  In his gregarious style, my son went up to the coach and let him know he wanted a try.  So the coach shrugged his shoulders and said, “Go ahead.”

My boy became a pitcher, only I didn’t know it yet.  Sitting at the first game, I was getting a little bored.  So I decided to head to the ladies’ room.  One of the moms stopped me and asked me why I was leaving.  Thinking this a little strange, I pointed to the restroom.  She pointed to the mound, and said, “You don’t want to leave when your son is pitching!”

“My son?!  I didn’t know my son could pitch!” I said and sat down to watch.

My boy pitched his heart out that day striking batters out left and right.  A talent was discovered.  He seemed to be a natural.  Who would have known!  He has been pitching ever since with strong showings on his varsity team from his freshman to junior years!  He even became the primary catcher on his team for his junior season, and a good one at that!

All along, my son has been fighting to play this game that he loves!  Against all odds he has fought parent privilege, politics, “names”, parent coaches, nasty players, people who didn’t think he had it in him, naysayers, injuries, and even the Ohio High School Athletic Association.  Anyone or anything that could be a barrier, he worked around.

For eight long years, my son had been fighting to play baseball.  He will be a senior in high school this next school year.  On July 30, 2019, he made a verbal commitment to play baseball for an NAIA college team!  I couldn’t be prouder of a boy who grew into a man fighting hard to play baseball!

 

Win the Day

Our thinking was that we finally had a chance!  This year we might make it further into the tournament than last year.  The first game would be a breeze, and we would move on to the next game with no problems.  That was not the case.  The team was so busy looking forward to the next game that fatal mistakes were made in the first game…the one that should have been easy to win.

During baseball camp several years ago, the theme was “This game. This pitch. This play. This at bat.”  The idea was that the players learn to focus on one thing at a time.  They needed to learn to master the moment rather than worry about the next step.  This would help them play the best and be the best at that moment in time.  The future would take care of itself.

C.S. Lewis once said, “We must try to take life moment by moment.  The actual present is usually pretty tolerable, I think, if we only refrain from adding to its burden that of the past and the future.”   How often do we worry about our next big move and forget to live the day that God gave us?  We are not guaranteed tomorrow, just like the team was not guaranteed the next game.  Some people live their entire lives for tomorrow and forget about today.  What if tomorrow never comes?

Given a chance to re-do that game day, I’m pretty sure the coach would play things quite differently.  I imagine he would focus on the task at hand, taking the game moment by moment, and making sure the moves he made would lead to a win.  He would secure the first game before worrying about the next.

What about you?  Are you so focused on tomorrow that you forget to live the day God gave you?  I know I do this often.  The thing is that we are not guaranteed the next game.  We are only given the moment.  This day, this moment, this time is what God has given you.  Win the day!

Two Kinds of Baseball Players

This time of year, baseball becomes a huge part of my family’s life.  We are what my husband calls “a baseball family.”  I never thought it would be this way.  I was never an athlete growing up, and my children did not seem like they would be either.  Nevertheless, this is the path that our life has taken.  Good thing too, because of all the sports that exist, I love baseball!

So one day I was listening to Tech Talk on the MLB channel with my son (actually, he was watching it and I was doing dishes in the background).  The host said something that caught my attention.  He said, “There are two kinds of baseball players in the world: those who are humble and those who will be humbled.”

Wow!  Those are some powerful words, and I’m pretty sure they don’t just apply to baseball.  If you really think about it, there are two kinds of people in the world in general: those who are humble and those who will be humbled.

I’m not sure if the host of Tech Talk knew it, but his words were similar to those of Christ in Matthew 23:12 (NIV) when He said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  You see, to come to a saving faith in Christ it takes humility.  You have to acknowledge your own wretchedness, your own sinfulness, and your inability to save yourself.  Without humility, you cannot truly know God.  God “adorns the humble with salvation” (Psalm149:4 ESV).  A person who believes they are “all that” won’t truly see their need for God.  Even if they may not admit it, they will somehow think they are good enough or smart enough or cunning enough that God will accept them.

God doesn’t accept us on our terms.  He only accepts us on His terms.  One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, whether they wanted to on earth or not (cf., Phil.2:10; Romans 14:11; Revelation 5).

There are two kinds of people in this world:  those who are humble and those who will be humbled.  Which one are you?

Baseball is a Game of Failure

For the past several years, my boys have participated in Cincinnati Reds Youth Baseball Camps.  During these camps, the camp director always has a memorable saying that he repeats several times a day.  The one that sticks out to me the most goes as follows:

“Baseball is a game of failure.  There are winners, and there are learners.”

Baseball is one game where the athletes fail most of the time.  A good record is to be able to successfully get a hit around 30% of the time.  That means the other 70% of the time, the athlete isn’t accomplishing what he had hoped.  Yet he never gives up!  He plays and plays with his whole heart waiting for the time when he does get that hit.  He is constantly learning: learning about himself, learning about the pitcher, and learning about the game.  Winning is great, but learning is even better!

One year my husband coached a Little League team.  The boys played their hearts out, but they just couldn’t seem to win very many games.  They were the second to last team in the league.  Then came the end of season tournaments.  Somehow the boys pulled out win after win just at the right time.  You see, even though they had not been winners all season, they had been learners.  That learning came to fruition at just the right moment, and they ended up winning the entire tournament!

Winning is great, but the moment passes.  Learning lasts forever!