Family Friday #11 ITFDB

March 22, 2024 0 By Mirm
  • It’s Time For Dodger Baseball

Both Jim and I grew up as baseball fans. Actually we both grew up rooting for the Dodgers. We also grew up in the era where baseball cards were clipped into spokes and “ruined” for the completely unique and motorized sound, when going to sporting events was affordable for the whole family to enjoy, and when girls sports were not well known or supported. We lived in time when the golden voice of baseball was (and it will ever be) Vin Scully. I learned how the game was played as I learned to keep score watching my brother’s little league games. I followed players like Hank Aaron, Willie Mayes and Catfish Hunter, along with my favorite infield (Garvey, Lopes, Cey, Russell). In Calabasas I had a friend named Kelly Drysdale whose dad’s name was Don! My mom lived in Cooperstown during college and we went to the Hall more than once. I remember when my brother David’s favorite player Lou Brock was walking away from Dodger Stadium and while he wouldn’t give my brother his autograph, he very willingly gave it to me! We were privileged to meet and/or know several star baseball players over the years.

When we moved to Arizona, we moved to the land of the Cactus League! Spring Training became a regular rhythm and there were plenty of junior high kids and visiting friends to enjoy the sounds and sights, relishing the accompanying atmosphere, with us. We also enjoyed the Phoenix Firebirds although it was not always to root for the Giants farm club! I took my students to card shows and waited with them at the edges of fields for autographs and photos. It was a ministry pathway, along with incentive programs like Grand Slam, GridIron, Ironman Triathalon and Miler’s Club among others. We took youth group trips that usually included a professional ball game, and even those who didn’t watch even a minute of the game have memories of the event. Here is one such comment:

Vicki B – So many good times! I remember a First Baptist trip where Mirm drove us to San Diego. What did I care about going to a Padres game? But running around and joking in the parking lot after, with that crew, that’s what I remember!

I remember many family vacations driving across the country where we saw stadiums and games. Later, with a son of his own, Jim and Clayton set out on a quest to visit all 30 baseball stadiums for a game, usually to watch a game against the Cubs. They (we) got 2/3rds of the way through the ballparks before Jim left earth. We have watched countless hours of games, seen amazing and memorable feats of athleticism and eaten more than a fair share of peanuts and hotdogs!

Even though we were avid fans, most people don’t follow sports. I know my dad used to say that if any sports team was counting on him for ratings or financial support the entire industry would go under! And yet he was an avid Auburn vs. Alabama football fan. He learned to enjoy soccer and came to every one of Clayton’s games he could, often sitting next to me and making random and silly comments, expressing the obvious. Whether or not sports get too much attention

As some might say, God can be found everywhere, even at athletic events. And probably more dumb prayers from the sidelines have been prayed for victory. Perhaps there are as many atheists on sports fields as there are in foxholes! There are some similarities to people of faith and sports fans. And after “participating” as a soccer mom I can say I have witnessed the formation of character as well as the sense of community, relationship and teamwork in powerful ways, often more meaningfully than in a church group.  I have learned many lessons both watching sports and listening to some of the coaching my kid has received.

The intro to the Wide World of Sports included the words, “…the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”. This is perhaps a metaphor or at least a related perspective to a wider reality in life! I don’t want to over spiritualize this. And it is not my intent to make sports lovers of anyone. I am just noting that we grew up avid sports enthusiasts, loving games and competition, even though we were not athletes. I will also note that somehow – almost always – when Jim was leading games and competitive activities with students, it almost always ended in a tie! And almost everything became a game.