I took a trip today. It is the kind of trip that my wife teases me about mercilessly. It was "a trip down memory lane." I attended the Hall of Fame Luncheon for the Atlanta Braves at the 755 Club at Turner Field in Atlanta. The luncheon allowed me to relive history as we celebrated the 1995 World Championship Braves team. The Braves also inducted professional scout Paul Snyder and Boston Beaneater Herman Long into their Hall of Fame. The occasion was further used to pay tribute to some of Snyder’s former prospects: members of the 1995 World Series championship squad. The whole event was loads of fun.
During the ceremony, attending members of the 1995 team held a question and answer session. The most interesting speaker of all was David Justice, who was, and still is, one outspoken guy. DJ talked about facing your fears, about real determination to succeed, and of the serious dedication needed for a team to win. He saw all three of these as the keys to winning. He also talked about how much fun these guys had on the 1995 team and how much "they loved one another." It sounds a tad corny but grown men can and do bond in these ways.
Speakers also included general manager John Schuerholz, manager Bobby Cox, announcers Skip Caray, Ernie Johnson and Pete Van Wieren, and current Braves John Smoltz and Chipper Jones.
David Justice said the current Braves rookies are better than the group he came up with in the late 1980′s. There have been as many as fifteen rookies that have played in Atlanta in the 2005 season (an unheard of number). For me, a lifelong Braves fan, Justice’s comment was music to my baseball ears. I think I will enjoy a few more seasons of Braves’ success if he’s correct. This game is fun and the Braves are a model of success done the right way. Almost everyone in the sport, including those who do not like Atlanta, understand that this is a class organization that wins with commitment and character.
I have had a unique view of baseball, and of these Braves players and coaches, for some years. I first led a baseball chapel for the Atlanta Braves in 1978 at Wrigley Field. I have since done chapels at Turner Field as well as in road venues. I have seen the unique character of some of these guys. There are some really fine Christians among them. The temptations they face are immense. Most are very young men. The platform they are given upon which to do good is large. Some use this private and public opportunity very well.
Highly motivated and very busy people need to find ways to relax. For me, baseball is it. You may fish, hunt or just veg out. I go to baseball games and special luncheons for baseball fans. As the MLB marketing line goes: "I Love This Game!" I admit it.
So I did take a trip down memory lane today. I truly enjoyed it. And I admit to my bride Anita that I really do love baseball like a little kid. There you have it, a full and honest confession. But I also confess that I love you, my dear wife, all the more for allowing me to have such fun. You are really the light of my life, even though at times basbeall seems a close second. In reality baseball doesn’t compare. Go Braves! And hooray for Anita!!! You’re the best.