Bottom of the 9th - Legacy
by Coach Keith Wahl
Late October baseball reminds us of all the things of baseball historyâ€™s past. This yearâ€™s events, as does every yearâ€™s events, add to the narrative and commentary of a history of which every baseball player, coach, and fan desires to be a part.
In tapping into that history, three of the early minutes of the documentary series Baseball by Ken Burns, the narrative outlines legend and legacy of a series of figures:
â€œThe gameâ€™s greatest figures have come from everywhere â€“ coal mines and college campuses, city slums and country crossroads.
A brawling Irish immigrantâ€™s son who for more than half a century preached a rough, scrambling brand of baseball in which anything went so long as victory was won.
And his favorite player â€“ a college-educated right-hander so uniformly virtuous that millions of little boys worshiped him as â€œthe Christian gentleman.â€
A mill hand who could neither read nor write and who might have been one of the gameâ€™s greatest heroes if temptation had not proved too great.
And a flamboyant federal judge who first helped save baseball from a scandal that threatened to destroy it, and then became an implacable enemy of reform.
A minerâ€™s son from Commerce, Oklahoma who made himself the gameâ€™s most powerful switch-hitter despite 17 seasons of ceaseless pain.
And the tight-fisted Methodist â€“ a cross, one sportswriter said, between a statistician and an evangelist â€“ who profoundly changed the game twice.
And there were those whose true greatness was never truly measured because of the stubborn prejudice that permeated both the nation and its favorite game.
Two of baseballâ€™s best began life in rural Georgia. A swift, savage competitor who may have been the greatest player of all-time, but whose uncontrollable rage in the end made him more enemies than friends. And another no-less-fierce competitor who, because he managed to control his temper, made baseball a truly national pastime more than a century after it was born.
And then there was the Baltimore saloonkeeperâ€™s turbulent son who became the best-known, and the best-loved athlete in American history. â€œ
John McGraw. Christy Mathewson. Shoeless Joe Jackson. Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Mickey Mantle. Branch Rickey. Satchel Paige and other Negro League stars. Ty Cobb. Jackie Robinson. Babe Ruth.
These larger-than-life figures left an indelible mark on the game. We read about them, study them, and look up to their achievements. Those who contributed to the history of the game deserve our honor. The game and the players of the past deserve our humility, a humility that comes in seeking to honor others over ourselves.
When we seek to honor those who came before, the legacy of the past is strengthened but so is our own legacy. Through humility, we gain a place within the gameâ€™s storied history â€“ we earn the right to leave a legacy of our own. Seek to leave a legacy of humility in the game and watch what the Lord does.
Matthew 23:12 (NIV), â€œFor those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.â€