If you’ve read this blog at all, or if you know me personally, you know that I love God, I love my family, and I love baseball. When everything is stripped away from me and my family, those three thing are who we are.
In the book A Guide to Biblical Manhood, Randy Stinson says baseball
…is something I’ve found to be a distinct tool for building Christian character and cultivating biblical masculinity.
I realized a while back that neither I nor my sons would play this sport forever. At some point, our participation in the game of baseball will pass and my boys will move into the realm of living life – career, marriage, family, church, and so on. And, since we put so much time and energy into playing this game, I knew that there must be a lasting effect to the long hours of practice, games, frustrations, joys, winning and losing.
In other words, there’s a lesson in life everywhere in this game we know as baseball…how to handle failure, how to work hard toward a goal, relationships with teammates and coaches, the authority of umpires, and so on.
Stinson gives 11 connecting points between the game, biblical masculinity and Godly character. He begins with this introduction:
Since the game is played at a slower pace than some sports, each play, and player, is highlighted on every pitch. You do not need to watch the game film later to know who missed a fly ball, who struck out, or who got thrown out stealing second base. I can easily observe what my sons do when they miss a ground ball, when they strike out, and when they are put in to pitch under a pressure situation with no outs and bases loaded.
The game is so full of subjectivity that I can easily see them in situations when they are treated unfairly. A ball is called a strike. A safe slide into third is called out. And most of the time, because of the easy access to players in the dugout, I can make mid-game character corrections, without waiting until we all get home.
I can see what they do when they lose big, when they win big. It gives me an opportunity to see what comes out of them in situations that I cannot possibly manufacture at home. I am not living for the day when my sons become the next Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez. In fact, I would generally not wish the life of a professional baseball player on anyone. And although we love to play the game, we are not living for it. It is a parental tool that also happens to be really fun.
Stinson closes his article with this sobering thought:
Baseball requires at least two people. You cannot play catch with yourself. You can’t pitch to yourself, and you can’t hit grounders to yourself. Normally this is where dad comes in. But where is he? Is he working too much, abandoning his family altogether, or is he just emotionally absent?
Over the next decade, fewer and fewer boys will enjoy the incredible father-son moments of playing catch, hitting grounders, spending hours discussing the nuances and character-building aspects of the game.
And, I will add – go play some catch with your son.