I had the opportunity to take some Lamar students to Minute Maid Park a few weeks ago for Methodist Night with the Astros. We had a great time with families and friends and got to see a lot of other folks from across our Annual Conference. I bumped into one of our favorite pitchers (now retired) who was also there to watch the game, and the Astros even managed to squeak out a win!
One of the best parts about any trip to see the Astros is how excited my kids get. It’s great to see Ben and Ellie really interested in the game: excited about seeing batting practice, trying to catch a fly ball, root-root-rooting for the home team, and building friendships with kids and grown-ups alike at the great American pastime. I really like teaching about the different aspects of the game, such as showing how a well-executed bunt or sacrifice fly can score the winning run.
Craig Biggio, in his last season, reflected on how he learned so much about how to play the game of baseball as a rookie for the Astros. John P Lopez, writing for the Houston Chronicle, described Biggio’s rookie days:
After games, Astros veterans would order Biggio to the training room to fetch a cooler of beer. Biggio would drag the cooler to second baseman Bill Doran’s locker, where players such as Nolan Ryan, Harry Spilman, Mike Scott and Larry Andersen would set their Astrodome locker room chairs in a circle to talk. And every night, Biggio set a chair outside the circle and listened.
“I didn’t say a word,” Biggio said. “They’d talk about the game or baseball. I’d sit there and go, ‘They were thinking about that? Whoa.’ It was stuff I never thought about. It was talking about if you get a hit, then the lefty’s going to come in and then this guy is going to pinch-hit. How do we approach that? How should we have done that different? I just realized how much I didn’t know.”
[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=locker+room&iid=5291303″ src=”e/1/9/d/Lockers_in_a_d172.jpg?adImageId=12726731&imageId=5291303″ width=”234″ height=”234″ /]And if you ever watched Biggio play during his 20 seasons with the Astros, you know that he learned in that locker room just what it meant to be a baseball player, to play this game with hard work and hustle and joy.
Faith isn’t a solitary pursuit. And it isn’t something that we can try for just an hour a week and expect to find growth and excellence in a short period of time. So for all of you who are graduating from high school this year…or a college student…or a young adult living on your own for the first time…what’s your “locker room?” Is there a place where you can go and listen to people who might become mentors? Biggio found a group of people who taught him how to play the game he thought he already knew. I hope we all can learn from his example, and how to live our life with the same hard work and hustle and joy.
Originally appeared in Wesley United Methodist Church’s Circuit Rider on 6 May 2010.