I just got back from the College World Series tent-camping for $11 bucks a night with my youngest son, Caleb. We had a great time. I love all college sports but baseball has a special place in my heart. Unlike a lot of sports, it’s still so pure. Very few players on the teams have scholarships. Most will never play in the Majors. They just love the game. There’s a fresh naiveté about it every season.
I can hear the crack of the bat, the ball hitting with a heavy thump into the catcher’s mitt, the sound of a swooshing slide across home plate. I can see the sheer beauty of a diving catch, a perfectly turned double play, or a 12/6 sinking curve ball. Every time I go to a baseball game I experience the little bit of heaven portrayed in the Kevin Costner classic, “Field of Dreams.” I can hear James Earl Jones’ voice as Terrence Mann talking about baseball consistently marking the passage of time as other things have changed about America. Catch a replay and savor the moment! I cry every time – can’t help it.
This game has remained largely unchanged. The numbers still count. Slugging percentages, On Base percentages, E.R.A’s, R.B.I.’s, R.I.S.P., and batting averages all play their part with the added bonuses of baseball’s quirky antics and superstitions to which no other sports can hold a candle. Seventh inning stretches and singing “Take me out to the Ballgame” is a beloved ritual. The cracker jacks don’t come in boxes any more, but I just had a bag with a prize inside the other night. All this is to say that the adage about the U.S. being all about Mom, baseball, and apple pie is pretty darn true.
Caleb and I had a great time together at the ballpark and at Lake Manawa State Park. I was able to read two N.T. Wright books: Simply Christian and Simply Jesus. They were excellent. I did my share of catching up on some favorite novel authors that mix history and mystery. It was pretty hot during the day and we weathered a couple of rough storms. The nights were cool enough to have a campfire. It was good, simple yet profound. Classic!
I’m refreshed to be back on site greeting new clergy and thinking ahead to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. I am grateful for a few days of Baseball Bliss in Omaha, Nebraska. Play Ball!!!