I’ll never forget the summer of 1994. These many years later, it stands out to me. It resonates not only because of a state championship won that year with great teammates. An equally vivid memory is the subsequent “summer ball” played one last time with my dad and grandfather as my coaches. It was unique, really. They were asked to help out with the high school summer team, which was something they hadn’t done before. It was my last summer as a high school player and it was the best of all.
If there’s one thing I love about baseball, it’s the fact that it has the potential to draw fathers and sons closer together. I grew up playing for my dad and being taught the game by his dad. For my family, baseball was what we did. It was our thing. Some families didn’t understand why we took it so seriously. I didn’t understand why they didn’t understand.
Baseball was my way of connecting to and honoring my dad and grandfather.
Proverbs 17:6–“Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers.”
My dad and grandfather were there every step of the way in my playing career. Papaw died about three months after my last game. I hope that in some way I was able to crown him with…
Honor. I never wanted Papaw or my dad embarrassed by how I acted on the field, although I know at times they were. I wasn’t perfect, but my goal was to work hard and play the game the right way, the way they taught me.
Respect. Papaw came to the dugout during a game only once in my career, during the state championship in ’94. I don’t remember all he said, but I do remember that he got my attention and wanted me to get my act together and go win the game. I listened and did just that.
Love. One of my favorite pictures now sits in my office. Papaw, beaming, with his arm around me after a second consecutive state championship. It was my last high school game, and the last time he would see me play with that sort of regularity close to home. I hugged him with no shame.
For players reading this, be the crown for your grandfather. Do all you can to give him the honor, respect, and love due him. Also, if possible, take pride in your own father and let him enjoy this journey with you. You will never regret it. As you honor those whose legacy you carry, you fulfill the will of God and thereby honor him.
Lord Jesus, thank you for those who have left a legacy for me. Enable me to honor you by honoring them. I submit to your authority and to theirs. Help me to crown them with honor, respect, and love, and to crown you with glory all the days of my life. Amen