Roberto Clemente was one of baseball's all-time greats. The day he swung his bat for his 3,000th hit, he almost didn't play.
The year was 1972. It was the last day of the season, the last game, the last few pitches to arc across home plate. There would be no more, at least until next season, and Clemente had 2,999 hits.
That's when Clemente decided not to play. He told his friend Bob Prince, "It's good for marketing if I wait and get my 3,000th hit next year. It would help season tickets and a lot of things."
But Bob was a prophet and knew what all prophets know about the future: it is often unknown.
He explained that to Clemente and told him he should go ahead and play if the coach would let him.
The coach did so Clemente played. Clemente swung! And number 3,000 rocketed into the history books to the thunderous applause of all the fans.
A few days passed. The days turned into weeks and Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash en route to Nicaragua with aid for earthquake victims.
For that great man, the last day of the season, the last game, the last few pitches were indeed the last. There was no next season.
My hat's off to you for swinging when you could, Mr. Clemente. Thank you.
Now listen to God in his Bible: "Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16.
Why not take today to do what needs to be done: to get things right with family, to forgive, to say "I love you," to be right with God.
Don't wait until next season or the next pitch. Do it now. Some day someone may come up to you and say, "My hat's off to you for swinging when you could. Thank you."
Rick Cupp is a minister at the Kenai Fellowship Church of Christ, Mile 8.5 Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai. The church is changing soon from its summer to its winter schedule. Call 283-7682 for times.
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