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One Player Short

Updated: Dec 22, 2023


The Alpena NEWS

NOV 18, 2023


Everyday Faith

     When I was a kid going through high school, I was an absolute baseball fanatic!

     Unfortunately, the high school program I was a part of didn’t have a strong tradition in baseball, but the group of guys that I went through with was a great group of athletes. As we developed over the years, we all believed that our senior year we were going to win a conference championship and make a run in the state playoffs.

     In my junior year, we had a decent squad that finished around .500, but we relied heavily for the success we did have on the junior class.

    We had two high-quality pitchers on that team — a right-handed pitcher who threw in the upper 80s and a left-handed pitcher who threw nothing but junk and was absolutely crafty. With those two guys stepping on the mound for us, we would always have a shot at winning!

     Along with those two pitchers, we had a game-changing catcher who blocked everything, threw out almost every attempted steal, and had a strong bat for the middle of our lineup.

     Each of those guys were all-state-caliber players in their own right. We were primed and ready to go for a great senior season.

     But something happened during that approaching year to our senior season.

     I don’t know if our catcher got senioritis, was tired of the demand of playing sports, or just lost interest in the game. What I do know is that our catcher never even tried out for the team our senior year. I don’t know if the coaches or other players tried talking to him to get him to come back and play — I just don’t know.

     What I do know is that the course of our season changed because of his decision not to play.

     The new starting junior catcher was a good friend of mine who walked into the season believing that he was hardly going to play for the year. Instead, he found himself starting for those two strong pitchers. My buddy was a good catcher, but he wasn’t nearly the same player as who should have been there.

     The biggest difference that whole season was that we couldn’t stop runners from stealing on us. The way we had to play our games defensively completely changed because of that.

     Well, we didn’t win the conference championship, and that season was much more of a struggle than it should have been.

     As we neared the state tournament, we eyed that up as our opportunity to still do something special for our school.

     Back then, districts consisted of 16 teams, not the four-team districts that we have today. To walk away as district champions back then meant that you would have to win four games in a row in the state tournament.

     By today’s standards, if you won four games in a row in the state tournament, that would more likely than not put you in a regional championship — the final 16 teams in the state.

     Even with our flawed team, we believed we had enough juice in our squad to make that happen.

     We went through two pre-district games, winning both of them handily. That put us into the final four of our district, and we won the next game, too.

     We were excited that we were going to play for a district championship against a very good Marysville team that also had hopes of moving on to the quarterfinals.

     To make a long story short, we got off to a rough start that game, but battled back to put ourselves in a position to still win. That district championship game ended with us down a couple of runs, bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the last out that was made was a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch by the Marysville centerfielder on the warning track in dead center field.

     His catch saved the game for them and sent us home dejected.

     But the point of all that is really not to reminisce about the old glory days. The point is simply to share what happens when someone chooses to sit it out and not use the gifts they’ve been given.

     I think we all recognize that we are living through turbulent times right now, and it can be incredibly frustrating.

     But, as a believer in Christ, the decision to pull back and not use our God-given gifts and talents is not the answer.

     Each of us has been given a set of spiritual gifts that are intended to bless others and our world. If we choose to pull back, the world around us does not get the positive impact it should.

     If you will, it’s like losing your all-state catcher for a season. There’s just a gap that no one else can really fill.

     Keep in mind that, for that baseball team, that was only one player that impacted our team and season.

     What if that was multiplied out over and over again?

     It is essential that each of us uses our spiritual gifts — whatever they may be! The world around us needs them.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace …” — 1 Peter 4:10

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