One of the greatest moments in baseball history comes from one of its true power hitters.
It isn’t a grand slam, nor is it a home run or even a hit. No one gets on base and no one scores, but it makes a difference.
The year is 1947. The Cleveland Indians send to the plate the first African-American to ever join the American League Larry Doby.
As you can imagine, he is extremely nervous as he eyes the pitcher.
The ball hurtles his way. He takes a giant swing.
Doby misses the ball by a foot.
Strikes two and three follow in quick succession.
Doby’s bat is never even close to the ball. He slinks back to the dugout, head held low, and slouches, alone, in the corner.
Next to step to the plate is Joe Gordon, one of the greatest second basemen to ever play. He is in his prime and is a feared power hitter.
With fire in his eyes he takes a giant swing.
Three giant swings, three strikes, and the bat couldn’t have been farther from the ball on each pitch.
Gordon returns to the dugout and sits down in the corner next to Doby, never saying a word.
No one ever made a comment to Gordon. No one ever asked if he struck out on purpose.
We know only two things: From that time on, Doby never went out on the field without first picking up Gordon’s glove and tossing it to him; and, Doby went on to become one of the strongest hitters in major league history.
We often speak of someone being a close enough friend to “go to bat for us.”
Ever have a friend so close he would strike out for you?
Ever have a friend so close he would slouch down in the dugout with you, sharing your weaknesses and shame, still true to you?
The Bible tells us Jesus is such a friend. Hebrews 2:10-18 tells us Jesus came to this Earth to suffer with us and feel our weakness and even taste death alongside us.
He did this to free us from death’s power and sting and offer us the forgiveness of God.
It also tells us something just as remarkable: “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them (us) brothers,” Hebrews 2:11.
If we come in faith to Jesus, he is not ashamed of us.
He is not ashamed to sit alone with us in the corner in our shame and failure.
Though he never sinned, he knows intimately the weakness of everyone who ever stood in public and heard those horrifying words, “You’re out!”
Kind of makes you want to pick up his glove, toss it to him, and go join him for yet one more inning, doesn’t it?
Rick Cupp is a minister at the Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 of the Kenai Spur Highway. He can be reached at 283-7682, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Services are Sundays at 11:15 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Bible classes for all ages are Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
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