About Me

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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

On Birthdays and Baseball

On Sunday, I am the worship leader for our congregation. The worship leader leads the congregation in our "Prayer of Repentence" which the entire church says in unison. The WL is also responsible for presenting a little talk before calling for the offering called "The Prayers and Thoughts of the People" which is our church's attempt to have the laity add something to the worship experience. The WL can talk about anything. This is what I am presenting tomorrow.

On Birthdays and Baseball

Tomorrow, around 12:26 in the afternoon, Spring begins. A few days after that I will be my birthdate. I’m not telling you this to get sympathy or presents. I simply wish to talk about the fact that as a child, I was happy that my birthday fell a few days after the beginning of Spring because that meant I could usually persuade my parents to give me some type of baseball equipment for my birthday. Sometimes it was a new bat or glove. Sometimes it was simply a new baseball. Having a baseball in my neighborhood was very important because that meant that you could always get into a game regardless of your playing ability.

Once I was privileged to live in a city that had a major league team. For a couple of years in the early 60’s, my family lived in Kansas City where the Kansas City Athletics played in old Municipal Stadium. One game I particularly remember happened in August of 1961, the year of the Maris/Mantle homerun race when I got to see the New York Yankees play. Roger Maris hit his 51st homerun of the season in that game.

My clearest memory of that day came before the game when I got to go down into the box seats to see the players during batting practice. That’s when I stood no more than 6 feet away from Elston Howard, the Yankees’ All-Star Outfielder/Catcher, and their first black ballplayer. I did not know then that Howard once called Municipal Stadium his home ballpark having played there for the Mighty Kansas City Monarchs, probably the greatest team in the history of the Negro Leagues. Elston had played with legends like Buck O’Neil, Cool Papa Bell, and Satchel Paige.

The baseball has taught me many lessons. While I won’t say that "Everything that I needed to know, I learned from Baseball", the great American Game has, at least, taught me this much:

1. If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to leave home and get out there where it’s not so safe. But, do take advantage of the safe places when you can.

2. No one succeeds all the time. In baseball, if a player over the course of a career fails two out of three times at bat, you know what happens to him? They put him in the Hall of Fame.

3. Life doesn’t always play it straight, so be prepared for when Life throws you a curve, or even a slider. Above all, look out for the screwballs.

4. It’s possible every now and then to hit a homerun, but more often, you’re going to need to have someone help you around the bases. In fact, baseball is one of the few sports where assists, know as RBIs, are a more important statistic than Runs scored.

5. Every now and then, you will be called to sacrifice yourself for the good of the team.

6. If all goes well, and if you work together with your team, you will be finally brought home in triumph where everyone will be very glad to see that you made it back safely.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it this morning, and again when I read it.
Play Ball!