A Close Call
Recently my brother Rickey and my oldest son Doug and I had the honor of being asked to umpire in the Okaw Valley Pony League Baseball tournament. As the teams were eliminated one by one, it finally came down to the number one seeded team versus the number two seeded team for the championship. Both of the teams were well-coached and highly talented up and down their lineups. The contest turned into a very close, nerve-wracking and nail-biting affair that see-sawed back and forth, the type of game one would expect when the two best teams in the conference squared off to face one another.
With the home team trailing 9-8 with two outs and the tying run at third base in the bottom of the sixth inning, a young man came to the plate and blistered a shot between first and second base. It appeared to be headed towards right center field for at least a single when out of nowhere the first baseman dove to his right, snaring the ball in his glove, and making a fantastic play. He then scrambled quickly to his feet with the intent of firing the ball to the pitcher who should have been covering at first base for the out, but the pitcher was not there. With the game on the line, and nothing else left for him to do, the first baseman raced towards the bag at first as the batter came flying from home. And I, the first base umpire for this game, positioned myself so that I could have the best possible angle to see the play in order to make the proper call that inevitably was going to be extremely close.
As it turned out, it WAS extremely close, and so close that the batter and fielder literally crashed into each other as they simultaneously reached the base. I immediately signaled the runner SAFE!, not only because a tie goes to the runner, but also because it appeared to me as if the fielder stepped on the orange runner's bag next to the white bag instead of stepping on the white bag. (The orange bag is ONLY for use by the runner, and not the fielder.) The runner from third scored the tying run, and I immediately called time out because during the collision of the runners as they reached the bag, the batter ended up severely breaking his right arm at the wrist.
I called the mother of this young man the next day to see how he was doing, and she told me he was very disappointed because he was looking forward to the Junior High School baseball season that would start in two more weeks. It now appears as if he will miss the entire fall season.
This whole episode gave me pause to consider just how uncertain things in this life can be. Just as this young man never expected that playing in the championship game of this tournament would lead to him breaking his arm, we, too, are never sure just when or where the next volley of slings and arrows from Satan will come. But we can be prepared! How? By making sure that we are in Christ! "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58) And how can we know if we are in Christ? "For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27)David Ferguson