"Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

My passion for baseball is almost legendary. I enjoy a relaxing day at the ballpark about as much as anything I can do for pure fun. I miss baseball after the World Series in October every year, just like clockwork. I long for Spring and the crack of the bat around March 1. Sometimes we even plan a five-day Florida trip just to see Spring Training. Photo

Since 1957 I have been a Braves fan, first in Milwaukee and now in Atlanta. I live and die with my Boys of Summer and thus I love the Braves! I have seen them win two World Series Championships in my lifetime (1957 and 2005). They should have won two more, in 1958 and 2006 but both times the Yankees rallied to beat them in seven games. I stuck with them when they were perennial losers and since I came to Chicago in 1969 I have tried to see them play each summer, usually at Wrigley Field and once and awhile, because of modern interleague play, at U. S. Cellular Field (White Sox). Last week was the Braves one and only visit to the Windy City. I saw two games. One on Tuesday evening, May 8, and another on Wednesday afternoon, May 9. The Braves won the first game 3-1 and lost the second 1-0. I saw Chipper Jones in his last Wrigley Field at bat. (He is retiring at season's end and a sure fire Hall of Famer!) It was a great moment. As he trotted back to the visitor's dugout some Cubs fans rose and cheered knowing the significance of the moment, saying good-bye to a great star. I was moved and thrilled. Of course there were several thousand Braves fans who really cheered. (In contrast, the fans in St. Louis last weekend gave him a standing ovation over-and-over but I will not go off about Cubs fans here!)

All in all you really can't beat fun at the ball park, even at Wrigley Field as a fan who roots for the visiting Braves!

PhotoBut my baseball passion was just beginning to get warmed up. On Saturday I flew to Phoenix and saw the Diamondbacks play Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, losing twice to the San Francisco Giants. I had great seats, courtesy of a Christian brother who directs sales for the team, thus I saw the game from a vantage point that I could never afford. I even got to enjoy food in a private club under the stadium (behind home plate) with a small group of friends. The whole experience was immensely fun. 

On Sunday I shared the afternoon with three young single men who are devoted Christians. We shared about life, marriage, faith and baseball. We stayed until long after the game was over and then I walked two blocks back to where I have stayed in a lovely private urban condo this week in Phoenix. 

Photo copyTuesday evening I spoke to PhoenixONE, a gathering of 20s and 30s from scores of churches scattered across the valley. I shared about the new ACT 3 Cohort group that we will begin in Phoenix this fall. Hey, I'm not totally dumb. If I plan this right I can do what I enjoy, namely teach young leaders, and also see more baseball. I admit this to be true so let the naysayers do their worst. I love making disciples and when I can do it around sharing fun at the ball park it is so cool. 

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