The Bible and Baseball

May 09, 2014 -- 5:38am

"The Bible and Baseball"

(Charlie Rood -  May 9, 2014)


On Saturday, May 10, the Detroit Tigers will participate in "Home Plate 2014".   Various groups will join the Tigers to experience a special pre-game program.

"Home Plate 2014" is when several players (active and retired) will speak about their careers in baseball, and more importantly, their faith in Jesus Christ.

Why do players do this?   Perhaps you've heard and seen many professional ball players  express thanks and praise to God after winning a game or playing well.   Cynics will say God had nothing to do with who won a game or how they played, that it's nothing more than a performance of talent and skill.   Faithful followers know it's God that blessed these players with the talent and skill, plus gifts, desire, and will to perform individually and as part of a team.

During the baseball season, numerous road trips and games every Sunday don't allow players to regularly attend church services.    Many players on all teams are active in their faith through "Baseball Chapel".   

Did you know "Baseball Chapel" got its start in Detroit?   In 1973, a sportswriter from Detroit approached the commissioner of baseball asking for permission to start a chapel for players.   "Baseball Chapel" has grown over the years to ballparks across North America, Latin America, and Japan.

"Baseball Chapel" is for more than players.   It's for all staff, from front office executives to broadcasters.  

The Tigers had a prime example of a broadcaster with faith by the name of Ernie Harwell.    On the radio, Ernie was the voice of Tigers baseball for many years.   He was loved by fans and players, making and maintaining numerous friendships throughout the baseball world.   Ernie was known to lead "Baseball Chapel" gatherings even before chapel received the blessings of the commissioner.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ernie a few times.   I once humbly thanked him for his commitment to Christ, as I was just starting to experience my walk with the Lord, and told him I was inspired by his faith.   I asked him what his secret was to his long and healthy life, his continued enjoyment of working in baseball, and the fact he and "Miss Lulu" (as he called his wife) were able to have such a successful marriage.  

"It's no secret," Ernie said, "I'm faithful to God and that allows me to be faithful in everything else."

At the start of every baseball season, when Ernie would broadcast the first spring training game, he would start by reciting a Biblical passage from the Song of Solomon, 2:11-12,  "For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.  The flowers appear on the earth.   The time of the birds singing is come and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land"

Miguel Cabrera of our Detroit Tigers has worn a T-shirt to practice that displays a fallen Jesus Christ with the cross on his back struggling to lift himself from the ground under the words "Lord's Gym."

Longtime Tiger and Detroit native, Willie Horton, now hands out baseball cards with this inscription on the back:

Much of my life has been spent striving to be the best baseball player I could be. I wanted to be like the Negro League heroes my Dad highly respected. At 20 years of age, I made my major league debut. While I enjoyed success on the baseball field, I found myself straying from the religious upbringing my parents sought to give me.

In 2003, at the age of 60, a nephew of mine was battling cancer. I tried to talk with him about how he was feeling, and he told me not to worry about him. “You should be worrying about your own soul,” he said. His words hit me like a fastball to the ribs. I was stunned to receive a call a couple days later informing me that he had died of a heart attack. The day after attending his funeral, I received the news that another nephew had been tragically killed. At the church for his funeral, God’s message of love overwhelmed me. I knew it was time and I received Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Happiness and joy surround my life these days. Along with working for the Detroit Tigers, I have the privilege of confessing the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. I find my daily strength in God’s Word. I have found a peace in my life. I’m closer to my team, my family and my God. My life seems complete.

“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” Matthew 16:26

Willie Horton is scheduled to appear at this "Home Plate 2014" event.   His testimony is one of the reasons why I titled this message, "The Bible and Baseball".

I pray it may help further strengthen your faith, renew your faith, or perhaps even start your faith, and in the future, perhaps the title will be:   "The Bible and You"!



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