Triples to Dead Center and God's Happy People

2478083945_2f3a54eb0d_o.jpg

During the summer of 1989, I had the responsibility—are you kidding . . . the fun—of attending about a dozen major league baseball games.

That spring, my company had published Out of the Blue, the story of Orel Hershiser, the Los Angeles pitching phenom.  The previous fall, he had almost single-handedly guided the Dodgers through the National League Championship Series against the Mets and the World Series facing the mighty Oakland Athletics.  With the newly-released book just hitting the marketplace, I had the chore—a dirty job, but someone had to do it—of escorting Orel to television interviews and book signings all around the country.  Going to games before or after the interviews was all part of the duty.

One perfect June afternoon, I was sitting in a lovely box seat at Dodger Stadium.  We had several interviews lined up after the game and, as was his custom, Orel had given me a really good ticket, right behind home plate on the second deck . . . the section where players’ families and friends sit.  Just before the Dodgers took the field against the Houston Astros, a man and woman made their way down the row where I was sitting and took the seats right next to me. 

They introduced themselves as Dave and Jan Hotchkin, good friends of the Hershisers.  I introduced myself to them.  Dave sat next to me, and by the time the first pitch was thrown, we knew the line-up of each other’s children, hometowns, and occupations.  Dave was a likeable guy. With the traditional introductory bases covered, we were both ready for baseball.

Orel’s first pitch was a slider that nipped the outside corner.  Strike one.

By the time we got to the bottom of the sixth inning, there was still no score.  The game was turning out to be a classic pitcher’s battle, a boring kind of baseball game to some, but not if the guy on the mound is your friend.  A remarkably successful batter for a pitcher, Orel stepped to the plate.  The first pitch was high and tight, a little telegram from the opposing hurler.  Orel leaned back ever so slightly to avoid being grazed.  Ball one.

The next pitch was the one he was looking for . . . a belt-high fastball.  Wasting no time, Orel turned on the pitch, sending a screaming line drive to dead center field.  The loyal Dodger fans erupted as the ball rocketed over the center fielder, Gerald Young’s, head.  Moments later, Orel slid into third base.  Safe.

In that moment, something very strange happened.  Dave Hotchkin, whom I had known for approximately ninety minutes, became my closest friend.  We embraced, stepped back to high-five a couple times, then embraced again.  All of this was followed by a solid minute of dancing, screaming, hooting, and obnoxious racket.  Our friend had tripled into center field, and Dave and I were instant comrades.  Jan shrugged, rolled her eyes, and excused herself to get some nachos.

Psalm 67 challenges “all the people” to praise God.  And if we do, it promises, “the land will yield its harvest.”

That afternoon at Dodger Stadium if, after the sixth inning, someone had given Dave and me a task to do together, our level of cooperation would have been flawless.  The “harvest” would have been plentiful because we had joined each other in mutual celebration.

This is a snapshot of God’s people.  When you and I realize how worthy He is of our adoration, our relationships with each other are sealed, and the work He asks us to do on His behalf will be accomplished.

Worship him enthusiastically, and you’ll find someone to high-five in the process.  Don’t you just love baseball?

For more devotionals with biblical truth . . . and references to all kinds of life experience as a man, a husband or dad . . . including a few tips of the hat to America’s favorite pastime, check out the Dad’s Devotional Bible, now available for purchase in my store.