It never occurred to him

Ah, the baseball playoffs! I think they’re still playing baseball, right? There are some cities where baseball is being celebrated because their teams are still contending. Not at the home of the Braves in the ATL. In fact, we’ve been called Losersville for our inept efforts to either contend in or to support major sports. In Atlanta, we have a professional sports condition. If it isn’t terminal, it’s close. Some will say at least we have soccer. Some will remember that we used to have hockey. Some won’t say anything because it’s just too painful.

Let’s go back to baseball for a moment, shall we? Do you remember Babe Ruth? A few people do remember. Most of us have heard stories about the “Great Bambino” – the “Sultan of Swat.” He used to be a Brave, a Boston Brave, before he was traded to the Yankees. He was brash and profane but he came along when baseball really needed a boost. Scandals like the “Black Sox” affair had tainted the game. Then Babe Ruth stepped to the plate. He put fans back in the stands.

The story that seems to typify his persona was his legendary called shot. Some say it never happened. Thousands claim to have been there when he did. On October 1, 1932, the Yankees were playing the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs’ bench had been riding Ruth unmercifully during game 3 of the World Series. The video made from old film is not clear whether he was pointing his bat at the Chicago bench, pitcher Charlie Root, or at the center field bleachers.

The game had reached the fifth inning with the score tied. Root threw a strike. Cubs’ players and fans hooted. Ruth held up his hand, and pointed his bat. Then he took strike two. The noise was deafening. He pointed again. Root fired another pitch, a curveball, that Ruth deposited at least 440 feet from home plate in center field.

Did he call his shot? Root said he would have put the next pitch in his ear if he had pointed the first time. Ruth never denied what became a legend. Someone asked him, “Wouldn’t you have been really embarrassed if you had struck out after making that gesture?” (After all, Ruth did set the strikeout record, something we’re familiar with in Atlanta). Ruth replied, “That never entered my mind.”

It never occurred to him. Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of confidence in your own ability? Paul wrote about confidence, not in his own ability, but confidence in what Christ can do in and through us: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Whatever you face, you’re not alone … you’re never in the minority. You and Christ; Christ in you. I like those odds.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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