Life is a lot like baseball. Former slugger Frank Howard put my point well: "The trouble with baseball is that by the time you learn how to play it, you can’t play it anymore." So very true.

Yeas of dedicated hard work, constant repetitions, and honing little things into real skills for the long haul all go into learning this game. It all looks quite easy on television but believe me it is never easy. I stepped into a batting cage a few weeks ago at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. I was never a great hitter I assure you. But I had not seen a ball thrown toward me, with a thirty-four ounce bat in hand, for more than twenty years. And the machine threw it at only forty-five miles an hour, half the speed of a major league fastball. I flinched, ducked and moved back on the first pitches I saw. After dinging a few harmlessly I finally found a groove and hit a few hard. Hooray for me. Then in my sense of pleasure I realized, "This is only at half-speed!" Whew,there is no chance I could ever hit a real pitch.

Like life baseball also involves the need for a clear mind. You have to think a great deal if you are to succeed. Concentration, eye-hand coordination, and mental toughness all go into it. And fielding is no picnic either. You have to fearlessly stand in front of a blazing batted ball and remember where to position yourself, what base to throw the ball to if you get it, and when to do it all.

Yes, life is a lot like baseball. You go into slumps. You strike out, sometimes a lot. And you make errors at crucial moments, sometimes physical errors and sometimes mental ones. Some people even boo when you fail. If you succeed then the fundamentals will first have to be pounded into your head so that you can face the game head on, and handle the really tough situations. There will be moments when clear insight and determined perseverance will finally pay off big time. Just like life.

And baseball, again like life, is truly a team sport. It requires keen execution, knowledge of how to make things work like the hit-and-run play, and paying attention to the signals you’re given by others. Individuals can make a difference in baseball but teams always win.

Come to think of it many churches could learn a lot about life through baseball so I better press this analogy more often. I do love baseball. I’ve been to five new major league ballparks this summer alone. I’ve got six to go in order to reach every major league park presently used by the thirty big league teams. When I reach my goal next summer I will then have a few hundred minor league parks to tackle so the game goes on. All in all I think it is a great way to relax and learn more about life in the process.

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  1. Steve Scott August 18, 2005 at 3:45 am

    John, I couldn’t agree more. Not just what happens on the field, but the fans in the stands, the vendors, and even the ticket scalpers outside lend to the life experience.
    Okay, you’ve got me really curious! Which six haven’t you been to? Hmmm, maybe RFK in Washington, Petco in SD, Citizens Bank in Philly?

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