Were you to have grown up in my home in the 1950s, and early 60s, sports would probably not have been a very large part of your life. Yes, the occasional World Series game may have been watched (television was nothing like today). But besides that there was little interest in professional sports.
I can still remember running home from 1st grade with the sign up paper in my hand. Can I play baseball!? Please, I really want to play! Well, my parents agreed, and that weekend we drove downtown to Dick’s Sports Shop to buy me my first ball glove. In those days they were short and fat because they had so much padding. They had not come up with the style that we have used now for years.
I was thrilled to be an official team member of the Hawthorne Hawks. We practiced and worked, day in and day out, all summer long. We began to learn how to play baseball. After my dad would come home from work he would set me up in front of the chain link fence and fire the ball towards me at full strength. He actually expected me to catch them! At first I would sheepishly back away and he would holler “if you want to play baseball put that mitt up and catch that ball!” Then there would come another blazing ball right behind it. He was not a bit gentle about it. He wasn’t raising any sissy.
It wasn’t any time and I began to stand up and catch those balls. The first year I was just a regular player. It was nothing to make you want to invite friends and relatives to come and watch you. At least my parents came to watch. In year two I became a better player. In between seasons I had a glove and ball always in my hand. I had dreams of being a great baseball player. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were my childhood heroes.
In the 3rd grade we moved to a different area and had to change schools. The first thing that I did was get my name on the roster of the Billy Mitchell Bombers. We had a great coach in Hal. He worked hard with the team and he took a special interest in me. The first two seasons I had no regular posistion. Now I was the official 1st baseman. My batting improved greatly. I finally had become a bigger asset to the team.
Fast forward to the 6th grade. A seasoned player was I now. The Bombers had led the league for the previous two seasons. We were red hot! At the end of each season a member of each team was named King of the team. The team also chose a Queen from our class. Well, you’ll never guess who in a million years was chosen as King. None other than yours truly. And the Queen selected was Teresa Burton, the prettiest girl in school.
The night that we were crowned was something that a kid could only dream of. The ceremony was in a very large, lights blaring stadium. It was jam packed full of spectators. This was so different from our regular games on the diamonds behind the school. Finally, our names were called, and with sweat pouring I escorted the pretty Teresa Burton around the bases before receiving the trophy. Camera flashes seemed non stop. I had never felt so important before, or maybe sense. I had received my 10 minutes of baseball glory. It has been 50 years ago now, and it has been long forgotten by all. I have not thought of it myself for a long time.
But any glory that I receive these days goes to Another. Paul spoke these words to the Galatians:
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal.6:14a).
A year or so after this incident The Lord saved me by His grace. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin. I realized that was heading for hell. There was no baseball crown that was going to save me. The grand slam home run that I had hit to win the big game earned me no merit. I now realized that the only merit that I had was because of Christ, and His righteousness, which had been imparted to me as a free, unmerited gift. He even gifted me the faith to believe in Him. (Eph. 2:8).
When you compare the 2 events, only the last one has any eternal importance. My baseball glory was fun. It was a major event in my young life. But the great salvation gifted to me I have still never gotten over it. Now any glory that comes I want Him to receive it. For only Christ is worthy to receive honor and glory! Thank you Jesus for your grace!