Tag Archives: baseball

“Damn Yankees”

 (Proper 13B )

John 6 verses 24-35

After Jesus fed the multitudes, these five thousand men wanted a repeat miracle.

But Jesus quite bluntly said to them, as we heard today, that they should be thinking more about God’s wonderful grace, rather than their stomachs.

How true that can be – when we think more of own comfort rather than our souls.

No wonder so many people today are discontented, lacking the vision to see beyond their immediate and personal physical needs.

In the 1950s, there was a popular musical called ‘Damn Yankees’

 

damn-yankees-logo-450x380

The leading character is a middle-aged man named Joe Boyd, who from childhood has dreamed of becoming a famous baseball player.

Then it happens – one night a mysterious character, a Mr Applegate, walks into Joe’s life, and tells him that he has the power to make Joe’s dream a reality.

Mr Applegate can turn middle-aged Joe Boyd into ‘Joe Hardy’ a young, athletic and gifted baseball player who will transform the team, and take them to dizzy new heights.

At this point, we had better note that the mysterious Mr Applegate is none other than the devil in human form.

Joe, of course, soon learns that there’s a catch to all this.

In exchange for stardom, he must sell his soul to the devil.  (c.f. Dr Faustus)

Joe finds the offer impossible to refuse.  He agrees to it, but on one condition: that he can back out of the agreement, if he wishes, just before the team has secured the championship.

The devil, believing that once Joe has tasted success, he’ll never want to give it all up, agrees to his request,

So Joe writes a short note, kisses his sleeping wife goodbye, and leaves home to begin his new life.

And what a life!  He becomes an overnight success.  Fans cheer him wildly, youngsters idolise him, and older people think of him as the son or grandson they’ve always wanted to have.

Joe relishes every moment of it.

Gradually, however, something unexpected happens to Joe.  All the fame and fortune begin to grow stale.  Deep down inside him there is an emptiness that he cannot quite explain.

Finally, the deadline date with the devil arrives.  The prospect of major success for the team is there.  But, after much soul searching, Joe invokes the get-out clause in his deal with the devil, and gives it all up.

Perhaps, at the back of his mind, he hears the echo of Christ’s words: ‘what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself’

Whatever the reason, Joe disappears from the baseball world as mysteriously as he arrived.

A few days later, he turns up at his home again, kisses his wife, and goes back to being Joe Boyd again, the middle-aged man who once dreamed of being a baseball star.

 

 

The fictional Joe Boyd would surely agree wholeheartedly with what Jesus says to the crowd in today’s Gospel:

‘Do not work for the food that goes bad, instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life…

 I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never be thirsty’

What Christ is saying, what Joe Boyd experienced, can be summed up in a single sentence: ‘the human heart has a hunger and a thirst that nothing on earth can satisfy’

Only Jesus Christ brings true satisfaction.  For he is truly the bread of life.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

A real oldie – but worth re-telling

image

Leave a comment

October 24, 2014 · 09:34

Two Choices

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?’

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning..’

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt.. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the Plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first!

Run to first!’

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . The smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third!

Shay, run to third!’

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team

‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the ‘natural order of things.’

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:

Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

“Will a person gain anything if he wins the whole world and loses his life?”

A popular musical of the 1950s was ‘Damn Yankees’ which was made into a film.

The leading character is a middle-aged man – Joe Boyd – who from childhood has dreamed of becoming a famous baseball player.

And then it happens – one night a mysterious character, a Mr Applegate, walks into Joe’s life and tells him that he has the power to make Joe’s dream a reality.

Mr Applegate can turn middle aged Joe Boyd into Joe Hardy, a young athletic and gifted baseball player who will transform the team and take them to dizzy new heights.

The question, of course, in Joe’s mind is “Who is this enigmatic Applegate person?”

Well, as you may have guessed, the mysterious Mr Applegate is none other than the Devil himself in human form.

It’s then that Joe learns that there’s a catch to all this.  In exchange for stardom, he must sell his soul to the devil.

Joe finds the offer impossible to refuse.  He agrees to it, but on one condition – that he can back out of the agreement, if he wishes, just before the team has secured the championship.

The devil, believing that once Joe has tasted success, he’ll never want to give it up, agrees.

So Joe writes a short note, kisses his sleeping wife good-bye, and leaves home to begin his new life.

And what a life! He becomes an overnight sensation.  Fans cheer him wildly, youngsters idolise him, and older people think of him as the son or grandson they had always wanted to have.

It’s an unbelievable experience, and Joe relishes every moment of it.

But, as the story progresses, something unexpected happens to Joe.  Gradually, all the fame and fortune begin to grow stale.  Deep down inside him, there’s an emptiness that he can’t quite explain.

Finally, the deadline date with the devil arrives. The prospect of major success for the team is there….but, after much soul-searching, Joe invokes the escape clause in his deal with the devil, and gives it all up.

 “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits himself?”

Joe disappears from the baseball scene as mysteriously as he arrived.

A few days later, he turns up at his home again, kisses his wife, and goes back to being Joe Boyd again, the middle aged man who once dreamed of being a baseball star.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Dark Confession

A woman takes a lover home during the day, while her husband is at work. Unbeknownst to her, her 9 year old son was hiding in the closet. Her husband comes home unexpectedly, so she puts the lover in the closet with the little boy.

The little boy says, “Dark in here.”

The man says, “Yes it is.”

Boy- “I have a baseball.”

Man- “That’s nice.”

Boy- “Want to buy it?”

Man- “No, thanks.”

Boy- “My dad’s outside.”

Man- “OK, how much?”

Boy- “$250.”

In the next few weeks, it happens again that the boy and the mum’s lover are in the closet together.

Boy- “Dark in here.”

Man- “Yes, it is.”

Boy- “I have a baseball glove.”

The lover, remembering the last time, asks the boy, “How much?”

Boy- “$750.”

Man- “Fine.”

A few days later, the father says to the boy, “Grab your glove. Let’s go outside and toss the baseball back and forth.”

The boy says, “I can’t. I sold them.”

The father asks, “How much did you sell them for?”

The son says “$1,000.”

The father says, “That’s terrible to overcharge your friends like that. That is way more than those two things cost. I’m going to take you to church and make you confess.”

They go to church and the father makes the little boy sit in the confession booth and he closes the door.

The boy says, “Dark in here.”

The priest says, “Don’t start that sh*t again.”

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic