With the Fourth of July just a few days away, I want to talk a little bit about that wonderful American sport of Baseball! Well, actually, I don’t want to talk about baseball itself – although I really love watching the game and listening to it on the radio! Today I want to talk about three baseball players, who demonstrate the integrity and personality that made America a great nation.
Madison Bumgarner, Cal Ripken and Brandon Phillips – these guys just make me smile.
Of course I’ll start with my favourite team, the San Francisco Giants! Giants’ pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, is only 21 years old and he’s a promising young player. But June 21 wasn’t a good day for him – in fact, it was a record breaking bad day for him, and for Giants’ baseball.
In only 25 pitches, Madison gave up nine hits. He faced ten batters and the Minnesota twins scored eight runs. And that was only the first half inning – the Giants hadn’t even come up to bat! We sat listening, as stunned as the announcers themselves! John Miller and Dave Fleming underscored the terribleness of Bumgarner’s trip to the mound by telling their listeners that this had only happened twice before in the history of Major League Baseball.
So of course, manager Bruce Bochy took Madison Bumgarner out of the game. And what do you think the young man did? He watched the rest of the game from the dugout. That just makes me so proud. Only 21 years old, and instead of running off to the locker room to hide, or cry, or beat his fist into the wall, he had the integrity and guts to stay in the dugout throughout the game, and cheer and encourage his fellow Giants.
Courage and responsibility – I love it.
And Cal Ripken. I’m glad I can have a baseball hero among the Baltimore Orioles, since my daughter, Monica, now lives in Maryland, and will soon marry a die-hard Orioles fan. Besides being a good baseball player, steady Cal Ripken just “went to work” every day for sixteen years. He set a baseball record by playing in 2,632 consecutive games. And then he quietly retired.
Integrity and a great work ethic – I love it!
And finally, Brandon Phillips. This really makes me smile because I grew up in Cincinnati and the very first time I ever heard about baseball – the first time I became aware of it as a team sport – was an animated conversation between some little boys on the playground of my elementary school. (“The Reds are gonna win the pennant!”)
I’ll take a small segue here to talk about when my son, David, was about the same age as those little Cincinnati fans. David was a catcher on his little league team, and his biggest baseball hero was a catcher on the San Francisco Giants. We took him to a Giants’ game when this catcher was playing, and of course David took lots of pictures of his hero behind the plate. Later he sent him an enthusiastic fan letter and told him how much he liked him, and and was inspired by him. He enclosed a picture and asked the catcher if he would please autograph it for him. But he never got a response.
Contrast that with Brandon Phillips, second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. This young man has the reputation of being the most fan-friendly player in baseball. I was so delighted when I read a story about a teenager who tweeted a message to Brandon Phillips and invited him to come to his little league game – and Brandon came and watched the game and met the kids and posed for pictures.
Graciousness and humility – I love it!
So as we celebrate the Fourth of July – and baseball and apple pie and motherhood – this mom is proud to celebrate these three baseball heroes who give us a little vignette of some of the attribute that have helped to make America great!