The Game and the Gospel
by Michael Aubrecht
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First, let me warn you, this is the first time that I've done this. No it's not my first attempt at writing as my resume (as a baseball historian) currently includes 4 online books, numerous player tributes, team studies, program bios, fan club newsletters, sports satire and the occasional poem. It is however, my first attempt at writing something from a "Christian point of view". In other words, this is the first time that I have ever expressed my faith using the written word and frankly I'm a little nervous. For all of the countless hours and hundreds-of-thousands of words that I've composed over the last 8 years, I've never, ever written anything down in regards to my faith.
My story is like many of yours. I was raised in a traditional Catholic church, attended CCD and was Confirmed. Then started college and focused more on my career over the next 10 years than I did on my religion. I worked hard (too hard at times), got everything I ever wanted (and more) and was blessed in more ways than I can count. Finally, through the help of my wife, I "awakened" one day to realized who was ultimately responsible for my success. Surprise-surprise it wasn't me! Now I regularly attend our local Presbyterian Church as well as a weekly Bible study and have been basking in the glow of the Holy Spirit ever since. I love it!
I also love baseball and it is this childhood obsession with a piece of lumber and a ball of cork that has led to my freelance career as a writer and historian. In addition to my work at the Pinstripe Press and Baseball-Almanac, I have also filled the role as Editor and Publisher for a fan-based eNewsletter called The Highlander. It is that publication's immense success that prompted the birth of GoodNews. It seems that people love to share their passions with other people. This got me thinking...
"What if we could do another Highlander but with a REAL purpose?" I asked myself. "What if I could get FANS of the Gospel to share their insights and ideas? What if I could continue to share baseball's history - but with a more meaningful message? Could it work? Would it work?" I think so.
But why baseball? Some people have compared our National Pastime to a "religion" of sorts. After all, what is the essence of the game, but people coming together in a ballpark "cathedral" to witness an exhibition of "competitive grace" while praying on the wind-up of every pitch when the game is on the line. Over the years, many writers have attempted to capture this so-called "spiritual" experience witnessed both "on the diamond" and in the stands. John S. Bowman and Joel Zoss stated in The Pictorial History of Baseball "As part of the fabric of American culture, baseball is the common social ground between strangers, a world of possibilities and of chance, where 'it's never over till it's over.'" That's some pretty deep stuff for a mere sport.
I understand that baseball is only a sport - but a sport nevertheless that has evolved into an American tradition that is rich in legends, folklore and history - a never-ending story where every game is a new nine-inning chapter and every player has the chance to be the hero. That's what baseball means to me.
Baseball fans love the "known" and live for the "unknown". Sound familiar?
It kind of reminds me of the Gospel. We (as "fans" of Jesus Christ) know what we are expected to do according to the Bible, and we do our best (most of the time) to live our lives in His favor while anticipating that "unknown" journey that awaits us. Life is "our game" and I believe that God wants us to hit one out of the ballpark every time we go up to bat. Like baseball, the Lord's goal remains the same - to bring everyone "home".
So if you're like me, you'll spend a little extra time at the "batting cages", practice as much as you can and swing away at every pitch that life throws you. Yogi Berra was right "It ain't over till it's over" and I plan on making every one of my innings count!
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