Major League - Classic Characters, The Old Veteran Catcher 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 Major League!
Let’s be clear from the start - Major League isn’t a Christian baseball movie. As I watched the film again and sought ideas for connecting faith to such a typical baseball movie, the subject matter wasn’t hanging off the tree on a low branch. Last week I talked more about a personal story around the movie than the movie itself. As I looked on the higher branches of this tree of ideas, I discovered something that I hope blesses you.
These characters are our teammates. They are very human. They are flawed. Most important, maybe, is that they are relatable. We’ve had these teammates in our lives. I’m not sure what has created these archetypal characters within the game, but they’re there. For the rest of the Major League series, I’m going to focus on those classic baseball characters. This week - the old veteran catcher.
Have you ever noticed how many former catchers are now big league or minor league managers? I’m sure anybody who has observed the game for any amount of time has noticed that. This must have included the writers of Major League as Jake Taylor played such a pivotal role in the film as the old veteran catcher.
Taylor provides a level of wisdom and mentorship for the younger players. He’s still a dreamer (remember him rounding the bases in front of an empty stadium just before the season) and he’s hoping for “one more good year under the sun.” He counsels the younger players and those players are looking to the veteran. Jake understands what he is fighting for, something that all men fight for - respect.
But this old veteran is trying to make up for past mistakes, on and off the field. He’s giving it his all and we would only expect the valiant effort he gives in the end. You would expect nothing less from a man fighting for respect to give everything he has towards winning the whole thing in the face of adversity.
There were two things that I saw in Jake Taylor that a faithful coach or player could take away from observing his character. The first is from Ecclesiastes 5:2 when Solomon writes,
Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
I don’t think Jake was always this way, and I don’t think many of us are this way when we are younger. It’s obvious that he’s matured and is still maturing. Jake’s words are few, but they are powerful (and often hilarious). What an important principle for us to grab as early as possible! For the sake of full disclosure, I’m still working on this. As I’ve worked down the road of being slower and slower with my speech and my reactions, things have gone better and better for me. As a young man, I would have needed to say the first thing that came to mind. Now, I’m learning the value in waiting, processing, and letting my words be fewer.
Secondly, in Hebrews 13:7, the author says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”While Jake didn’t speak the word of God to his teammates, he is worth remembering for his teammates. He did lead and his faith in those men was worth remembering. What great value men who lead and are worth remembering bring to a baseball clubhouse.
As I said, at the end of the day, Major League is far from a Christian baseball movie. But, when we look to find goodness and points of connection from such relatable characters, we just might find opportunities to be a greater witness to our teammates.