Baseball, my boy, is a beautiful sport, and I thank our gracious Lord that I had the opportunity to play it for quite a few years. Basketball is the GOAT, football is incredible, but baseball—baseball is beautiful. Some say soccer is beautiful, but don’t listen to them. Baseball is aesthetically delightful. Yes, it’s slow, and so what? Fortnite is slow…and repetitive. As for baseball, every game, every player, every umpire, every ballpark is different and beautiful.
No, I wasn’t very good. I Bucknered a lot and lost some fly balls “in the sun” (sometimes the moon!), but I loved and love America’s pastime. You have no clue who Sammy Sosa is (ignore the pictures floating around the interwebs lately); or Frank Thomas, Kerry Wood, and Mark Grace, but — be assured — they were my favorite. Ken Griffey was cool, and Mark McGuire was a steroid-monster-who-hit-baseballs-to-the-second-heaven, but they weren’t CHICAGO baseball. They were “The Others,” the enemy, the wannabes.
I remember daydreaming, probably in math class, of hitting a homer and doing Slammin’ Sammy’s homerun trot, just like I used to daydream that one day, I would watch the son God gave me run up the first-base line after blooper to right. I’ve waited years for this moment that has officially come upon us, and WOW, the Lord has allowed me to see it.
But I know that in my flesh there is no good thing. Until Christ comes on the clouds and I receive a new, sin-free, glorified body, I will find myself needing to repent of many things when it comes to your sports career, however long or short it is. When it came to sports, my dad was, seemingly, the perfect Christian example. Well, as perfect as a sinner-saved-by-grace can get. When I reflect on my somewhat-short career in sports, Dad was steady. He was gracious and merciful. Dad was at every game, and he always told me he was proud of me, regardless of my performance. To dad, my performance was low on the list of things he was concerned about. He wanted me to keep a good testimony and work hard.
As long as I was his son though, he loved me.
I’ll fall short of the holiness God calls me to as your “Biggest Fan.” This makes me a little anxious as we get ready for your first game.
I’ll be tempted to make baseball all about me, rather than using it as an opportunity to shepherd you and point you to Christ in your ups and downs. When you do well, I’ll be happy, when you struggle, I’ll be upset. This will happen because I will have rested my identity as a dad on you, rather than on Christ. What an awful thing! I must die to myself.
I’ll be tempted to complain when I have to take you to practice, or I’ll grumble when when the umpire makes a bad call. I’ll be tempted to look, sound, and act like the world. What a disgrace! Philippians tells me to do all things without murmuring so I can shine like a light in a dark, crooked world. I must crucify the flesh.
I’ll be tempted to clam up during practices and games because, in myself, I am ashamed of the Gospel and the Lord who purchased me with his precious blood. Appearances, when I walk in the flesh, are more important to me than the eternal destiny of those around me. May “To live is Christ, but to die is gain” be my confession continually.
I’ll be tempted, son, to allow baseball to dominate our conversation in the car and at home. Temporal things, like stat-lines, are, somehow, way easier to talk about than our gracious King. May it never be!
I’ll be tempted away from thankfulness and joy, even though God saw fit to give you lungs to breathe, legs to move, eyes to see, and an arm to throw. Though you don’t deserve it, God gave you a body that can move and play. May we always remain grateful to have the privilege of glorifying Him through activity.
Son, I want you to have fun. I really, really want you to play free, knowing that, no matter how you perform, you are accepted in the Beloved because you were saved through faith. You were dead in your sins, but now you are a child of God. As far as I know, Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, or Kerry Wood never had this kind of freedom from fear and anxiety. Who cares what others think about your athletic ability? You are in Christ, and He is in You. You already have the greatest treasure.
You can laugh at your mistakes on the field because you are loved unconditionally by the One who created you. This is a blip on the radar; you are a vapor. Your citizenship is in Heaven. Even if you bat .001, your inheritance is in Heaven, imperishable, undefiled.
Son, let’s enjoy these years together, and may our joy in this beautiful game be driven by the Gospel, not by my sin nature.