Texas in October is absolutely perfect! Slightly cloudy skies, a gentle breeze, and temperatures in the upper 70s… how could you ask for better weather? Our vacation certainly could have been a few days longer.
One reason (the main reason!) we went to San Antonio was to see my beloved sister-in-love Julie and her family. It happened that her son/my nephew Evan had a baseball game on Saturday while we were there. So, all of us (me, hubby, father-in-love, mother-in-love, another sister-in-love, her beau and his son, and of course, Julie’s group) loaded into the vehicles and went to the ball park to cheer on Evan and his team.
As we sat on the oh-so-comfortable bleachers (insert sarcastic face here) and the game started, some thoughts began flowing about what was happening on the field and what was happening around me. So guess what?! These thoughts turned into lessons that apply to life as much as baseball. Guess what else?! I am going to share them with you.
- The first concern I had as soon as the game started, was suddenly this chorus of coaches sounding, not out of the dugout, but from the bleachers. I immediately wondered how in the world those boys and girls on the diamond would ever know what to do with the flood of words. Too many coaches, too many voices to listen to from the sidelines. The players have to learn to distinguish the voice of the coach from all of the other voices, and to follow what he says to do.
- The umpire for this game was very intentional about teaching how to play baseball correctly, and was very intentional about his kindness in teaching. He explained different aspects to the players. One bit of wisdom I heard him share – “Don’t kick dirt onto home plate. It blocks the view of the pitcher using it for guidance.” Whatever the goal is, whether it is throwing a strike over home plate or choosing to go to college, don’t block the vision of the seeker.
- The next concept is also from this umpire. It may be just a game, but to the little guys and girls it can feel like life and death. Be encouraging!
- Respect the umpire/person in charge. Even if you don’t always agree with the call or the decision, it is still his or her call or decision to make. You should always be respectful of authority, and when you disagree, disagree without disrespect.
- Those on the sidelines don’t always know the game plan. This particular coach moved the players around to different positions during the game, letting them have a try at catcher, at pitcher, at shortstop. In this way, he was able to give each player the chance to experience the different positions since this was the first year for many of them, and he could also see how each one performed in the different areas. Unless those of us on the bleachers knew that, it looked like a jumbled mess. Within his plan, it is working well to bring out the best in each player.
- Every position on the field has its own peculiarities. The pitcher has a certain style and follow-through to execute, the catcher has to tag the batter with the ball after the third strike, the runner has to tag up to the current base when the hit is a fly ball. If the pitcher went to tag the batter after the third strike, chaos could ensue.
The last one is probably my favorite part I witnessed.
- Always be willing to give someone who is down a hand-up and a second chance. The time limit for the game was up. Our team had no runs and the opposing team had fifteen runs. The game was a runaway skunk. We had four players that never even got to bat, including Evan. After a conference between the coaches of both teams and the umpire, a phone call to the organization over the ball park and league, and the pleading of the seven family members from Indiana who wanted to see our boy bat, it was decided that our team could have last at-bats. Such a cheer rose from the crowd! (At least on our side and probably mostly from the Hoosiers) Did it hurt anyone to make that concession so these kids could bat? No. We scored two runs, which we didn’t do before the time was up. Did it make a difference? Yes! Those batters got to play and the family has a great memory of the day.