Last night, I came upon a choice post called “Baseball for Beginners #Kill Me Now” at The Number Kevin. Kevin humorously describes his effort to find meaning and purpose in baseball game. His reflections prompted me to write a rather long response that was just too good not to share (in a slightly redacted form).
This post really brings a smile to my face. I came to know baseball before I came to know Christ (and for many years grew much closer to it than him).
I’ll never forget going to a Cincinnati Reds game when I was at seminary with a group that included a South African man who had never even seen a baseball before.
There was a rain delay and I (on his left) and a friend (to his right) spent 3 hours instructing him on the intricacies of the sport – the deceptive flight of a curve, the infield shift for a lefty hitter, the blasphemy of the Designated Hitter.
He just smiled and kept repeating, “I see. Okay.”
The game finally started and nobody could get a hit. It was boring. By the 7th inning, we realized Tom Browning (for the Reds) had a perfect game going.
So, putting our love of the game above our Christian ethics, we gathered our South African friend and snuck down to watch the end from some abandoned seats along the first base line.
We carefully whispered to him the significance of the event without jinxing it by saying the actual words “Perfect Game”.
With two outs in the ninth, we were bursting at the seams. The third batter grounded out to third. Our South African friend was the first to jump up and scream repeatedly at the top of his voice,
“PERFECT GAME! PERFECT GAME! PERFECT GAME!”
Yes, I witnessed one of the rarest feats in all of sports. There have been over 132 seasons of major league baseball. Currently, 30 teams play 162 games each, which amounts to 162 x 15 contests (it’s too late for me to do the math). The number of teams and games have expanded over the years, but a low estimate would be 132 x 150 x 12 = ? .
Do you know how many perfect games there have been? 23. I saw number 12.
23 out of (aw heck, I’m going to find a calculator) 237,600. Roughly speaking, that means the odds of you seeing a perfect game when you go to the ballpark are 1 in 10,000. (That’s about as likely as a politician campaigning on a tax hike).
And I saw one. More than this, my South African friend, who had never even heard the crack of a Louisville Slugger walked right into Riverfront Stadium that night and witnessed history being made. This would be something akin to a guy who just happened to be on the moon with a film camera running to catch Neil Armstrong take “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I may never win the lottery (especially since I don’t buy tickets). I may never write a best-seller (especially since I cringe at graphic sex and violence). But, by golly, I have seen a perfect game.