By John Pierce
There is a proverb that says, “Raise up a child to appreciate baseball and when she is on her college break she’ll go to spring training games with you.”
I might have paraphrased that just a little. But this past weekend my daughter Meredith, on break from the University of Georgia, and I enjoyed two baseball games at the Braves spring training complex at Disney. It was a perfectly good time.
With less than two weeks before opening day, there is a great sense of anticipation for those of us who love being around baseball. We imagine settling into our seats to watch a game not rushed or limited by a clock.
Fellow fans and I are now sending text messages and posting observations and hopes for the fresh new season. We have endured enough of the dreaded off-season.
One of my favorite recent baseball-related readings came from my fellow Braves fan and a longtime baseball coach, Don Brewer, who serves on the Baptists Today Board of Directors. It was a column by Atlanta Journal-Constitution sportswriter Carroll Rogers.
She shared the compelling story of Braves announcer Don Sutton who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. He won 324 games pitching for five teams, mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Sutton, a native Alabamian, tells of playing high school baseball in Pensacola, Fla., where he shared with a close friend and teammate that Cooperstown was in his future. He traced the dream — perhaps more of a goal — back to an earlier experience.
When he was born, his parents were tenant farmers living in a one-room house and surviving on $25 a month. When they moved to another house, Sutton said, he found a baseball glove on the roof.
I imagined some kid tossing his — or more likely a friend or brother’s — glove high into the air and it landing on the roof. I couldn’t imagine not finding a way to get it down.
But that gift on high, if not from on high, set the course for Sutton’s life in baseball. From that moment on he was chasing his dream.
There is something about that story that intrigues me. Perhaps it comes from the joy I recall in obtaining a second- or third-hand glove, with the stuffing coming out, that would become my favorite childhood possession — along with a cracked bat with the handle wrapped in electrical tape and a waterlogged baseball with some of its 108 stitches dangling.
Or maybe it is in wondering if we should all check our roofs a little more often. There could be something hopeful up there.
Or, perhaps, I am just hoping that the weather is glorious on Easter Sunday this year — and on the day after.
Hope is always a good thing. It sets us on a better course.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.