Faith Observations


Are you sure of anything? Think about it a second. In this season of spin by media and culture, what is there to believe? Is it possible that you think you know but actually don’t know? What do you know about yourself? Is there anything you are really certain of?

I played the first half of my 16 years in MLB without knowing my own talent. Came from a critical background growing up so I was unable to connect with the truth about my abilities. Can’t completely explain how frustrating it was to play well and be upset about my performance. So much insecurity tied to life when you don’t know. Nothing better when you know that you know.

I was playing a game back in the 70’s when a realization of knowing happened. It was a usual hot evening in Arlington, Texas, probably in the 100’s. Good breeze out of the southeast that kept me cool, once my jersey got soaked in sweat. This built in air conditioner is what helped me navigate the daily heat.

This evening had one of its rare sellout crowds of about 38k. The old Arlington stadium was not the best but it was my home as a player and I loved playing there in front of our enthusiastic fans.

Players are generally trained to block out the noise and sounds of the game to concentrate on the task at hand. I couldn’t block out the smells of hot dogs though because of my tenacious liking for food.

My time to hit was third in the inning so I busily took my catching gear off in the dugout to prepare for my plate appearance. Not a plate of food although the thought had come to mind.

One out and I now moved into the on deck circle for the final preparation stage. A number of things go through a players head; what is the pitcher likely to throw based of previous experience, stay back (hit off back side to allow hands to freely move) and get a good pitch to hit. By the time a player gets to the batters box he’s focus on the plan, no noise, muffled sound as if your hands are over your ears. Relaxed!

My wife Janet has told me numerous times how I can block her out. My response, “it’s in my training, don’t take it personally”, said with a smile!

Pitcher winds up, pitch on the way, POW, HOME-RUN with a man on base.  Nothing like a home run in front of 38k standing fans. What euphoria! You don’t feel your feet hitting the ground as one rounds the bases, it’s an amazing experience. For one who didn’t hit many HR I was soaking it in as I touch all the bases in a respectful trot. Respect was important then toward the pitcher so that you didn’t get hit with a pitch the next time up.

As I crossed the plate, I let my guard down while enjoying the trot and receiving the applause. Then the moment happened! As I crossed the plate with 37,999 people applauding I heard one guy behind home plate yelling “negative” comments.

All of a sudden, his voice was the only one I heard. Finished my walk from home plate to the dugout as I glanced toward an angry man sitting, not standing, in about the 3rd row behind the home plate area.

I now couldn’t enjoy the applause from the fans nor my teammates affirmations. I quietly began to put my catching gear on as tears weld up. Quickly I put my mask on to cover the embarrassing moment. There no crying in baseball! It was strange to have a mask on in the dugout. Never does a catcher put his mask on until he heads out of the dugout for his position.

I had been trained from early childhood in my lack of perfection. The negative was always point out.
When I was 10 years old I hit 3 Home-runs in a game and strike out once. After the game I was quickly warned by my father that I dropped my elbow the time I struck out. A ten year old only hears, “Jim, you have to be perfect to receive my affirmations” and “you’re not that good, you failed”!

Now I sat in the dugout pondering those words against the man sitting in the third row of the stands. The man might as well been my dad, booing me for the time before when I struck out.

I decided that day to make a conscious effort, with Gods help, to escape the old messages. It took awhile but I did eventually got there. This mindset kept me from knowing my true ability. Confidence without arrogance is a good thing and I went through half my MLB career with having little confidence. And I wasn’t arrogant either, how could I be when I didn’t know what I now know.

What are you trained to see that’s keeping you from knowing truth about yourself? You might be a better father or mother than you know, a better provider for your family, better at your job than your manager acknowledges. When it comes down to it, what are some things you can truly know?

There are times where I’m not sure of things, sure of myself. While I often vacillate on knowing my personal abilities and sometimes become insecure, let’s take a look at what I know; I know that I’m a son of the King of Kings, loved deeply by Jesus, destined for eternity with the Father, Son and HS, chosen in this time for a purpose, righteous in Gods sight, free from the power of sin and so on! This doesn’t shift or change like the waves of performance. I know that I know! That’s a good thing.

What is it that you know that you know, it matters?