For Love of the Game - The Golden Boys
by Keith Wahl
The feedback from our "At the Movies" series and the coinciding CG Podcast has led us on a path to continue this exploration of the spiritual lessons we can learn from our favorite baseball movies. Enjoy this month's focus on For Love of the Game!
“I’ve always been a Tiger.”
One of the early scenes in For Love of the Game sets up a profound tension that is felt by every generation - dealing with change and growth that feels out of your control. Mr. Wheeler, the owner of the Tigers, is selling the team and wants to trade Billy to the Giants. Chapel’s response is the quote above.
They talk about the “golden boys” - the guys who played for the same team forever. Having grown up on George Brett and Cal Ripken, Jr., I understand this sentiment deeply. It would have offended the sensibilities of anyone who lived through the 1980s for either of those men to be traded from the Royals and Orioles, respectively. Anyone who grew up with Derek Jeter and the Yankees would understand the same thing. The important thing to remember is that these torch bearers are the exception, not the rule.
Wheeler goes so far as to say that the game stinks and that everything has changed. Chapel quickly corrects him and simply says, “The game doesn’t stink, Mr. Wheeler. It’s a great game.” And Chapel is right - it’s not that the game is changing, it’s what people value that is changing.
It’s in these times of rapid change and new growth when those of us who attempt to hold on to timeless principles feel like we’re getting dumped off the boat. Yet I wonder if those of us who espouse to faith in Christ really live out a life of Love, Discipline, Grace, and Forgiveness. Do we walk with a faith that shows that we accept that the effect of truth is rarely immediate? Do we believe that the little will become big like the mustard seed? Are we shaken too quickly by the ebbs and flows of culture?
There is a great challenge in recognizing that the world will throw us away the same way it has all of the generations before us. It’s a sobering reminder. All we can do is seek live out a long life of faith where others might say that all of those things in the previous paragraph were evident in our lives. We once wanted a long career in baseball like Billy Chapel’s and we all seem to desire a long life, but are we willing to live with all the Lord gives us through the ups and downs, ebbs and flows, joy and injuries?
I’d say it this way - may Christ hold on to us that the Royals held on to George Brett. In this case, I think Brett’s a better example than Ripken or Jeter. Brett won one World Series and that was in his 13th season. Brett never played 162 games. In fact, he only played more than 150 six times in 21 years. It was a different era but he hit 30 home runs once, and only drove in more than 100 runs four times. He was golden, but imperfect. In spite of that and how the world of analytics may view him today, he was (and to many still is) the Royals.
Our Christian community could use more of us impacting our local churches the way Brett did the Royals - with obvious imperfection sewn together with a deep desire for longevity. May we have the grace to give one another in such a pursuit as we become the “golden boys” to those around us.