Well as of last night, the 2019 High School Baseball season is over for our Varsity Team. It should be a sick day for Baseball Coaches and Players (a holiday for moms – no more baseball unifomr laundry turn around in less than 8 hours), the disbelief that the season is over, the thought of what am I going to do from 2:30 to 5:00 everyday, the “wish I should have could haves” to simply keep playing another day. But the stark reality is the older I get, the more I realize all things come to an end…sorta…
Last night I watched 3 seniors play High School Baseball for the last time, and there friend – who was the manager, was there for their whole Sr. Year. I watched a young man that accepted a role that he had never done before, performed sacrifice bunt after bunt – yet again, the way he had done so many times, and he did it well! I watched a young man sit in the dugout for 7 innings, with an injury, support and love on his team that he had played as a starter for the last 3 seasons. And then I watched a young man that has been an incredible hitter for years, not get a hit in his last game, but left his heart and soul on the pitchers mound – a complete game win (12-4) with 9 Strikeouts and 133 pitches. Yet, it ain’t over for these 3…boys, it ain’t over…It is only just beginning!
Then there was the 4 coaches, in which fortunately I get to be one of them… An evening of last barbs to each other, confirming or questioning each other for the best move for the team, the final handshake and hug of the 2019 season, and the promise to be back and be better and be there for each other for the 2020 season. Then there was the coaches photo to simply obligize a grandmother of one of our seniors…
Those 4 seniors, us 4 coaches, you in your life – will all see seasons come to a close. But remember there are always seasons that are about to start. People to do life with, Places to visit, and Tasks to accomplish…seasons that are new and exciting, adventures filled with the unknown, and people that will bring value to your life. Seasons that will bring new expressions of purpose, meaning, and dedication. Seasons that will stretch you and prove valuable as you learn and grow. Seasons that will exercise your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual mechanics. Seasons that will prove to be fundamental as you round the bases for the next season after that, and the one after that, and the one after that…
Sometimes in those transitions of seasons, the game of life can feel like it has left you all alone. Sometimes, those same times can you leave you feeling ill prepared for what is next. Sometimes, the yearning and the desire to go back in time, because it is known and comfortable – is so very overwhelming. Sometimes the next season will have a new set of doubt, fear, and pain that you will have to play with. But, I want to challenge you today, every season you loved, started with many of the same emotions and realities, but you and I played through those sets of doubt, fear, and pain. And we made it through that season, to the next.
Well, I leave with you this…from my favorite playbook ever…the Bible…
“For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert!” Isaiah 43:19 (The Living Bible)
God knows your season. God promises that He will make a road through the wilderness (doubt, fear, and pain) for you. In this next season, God will make “base path” for you to round the bases and make it HOME!
Class of 2019 – Here’s to a new season! May the next season, be more adventure filled than this last one! Thank You #2, #3, and #6!
Coach JD, Al, and Sandy – not a group of guys that I would have wanted to do this season with, than you! Here’s to eyes open, what did he just say, XXL, and so many other one liners that will pass by – can’t wait for next years set…
If you know me at all, then you know that I love team sports. It is obviously not because I am good at any of them, even though at 44 I am still trying to cut into the “Bigs” – LOL!!!!!
One of the things that I love about team sports is the concept of the team! A group of people going out to accomplish a goal – WIN! Everybody functioning in the same direction and doing their part to win the game.
Within team sports is a philosophy called “play your roll.” The main idea here is that each person on the team has a primary job––a responsibility––a function. Everyone is a spoke in the wheel that helps keep the wheel moving. I think you get the idea.
You know, within relationships (whether family, church, business, etc.) the idea of “play your roll” is super important. No matter the goal, the pairing, or the objective, we all have to do our part. However, as a Christ follower, there is something a little more focused than just doing a “job” or achieving a common goal.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received (from God) to serve others (not yourself) as faithful stewards of God’s grace (Jesus, forgiveness, and life) in its various forms!”
Did you catch that?
Playing your roll is not for you, it’s for others! We are to use whatever we have been given from God to point others to Jesus and what He did on the cross! No matter who you are, no matter what your gift is––as a Christ follower, your role is to point people to Jesus!
Everybody that knows me, knows that I am a HUGE baseball fan! I love to watch it, read about it, play it, and I passionately love to coach it! Especially when either one of my sons are involved! It’s America’s game…I’m an American…well you get the picture!
Well something happened to me in March of 2011. My family had just moved to Cape Cod. My son wanted to continue playing baseball, and I desperately wanted to keep coaching. I submitted an “application”, then took some classes, and was given the greenlight to start coaching.
The BYB League (Bourne Youth Baseball) figured that since I am a Pastor, it is only fair that they give me the ‘Padres’ as the first team to coach. (Do you see what they did there? LOL!!!!) My second team was the Angels – enough already.
For my 3rd team, I wanted to coach the Yankees, no way that was happening in Boston. So they gave me the Mets… Geesh!
The Padres had the nucleus of “My BYB Team” that I would go onto coach for 4 summers. After the regular season, I got to coach the All Stars. We all came from different teams, but we all were purple. Before the summer of 2011 – I would never wear the color purple. But that was the uniform, so we wore purple. This team was the greatest group of kids ever. I will never coach a team as special as them, there will never be a group of players that move me like they do. I truly loved them, I still truly love them! We added to that team over the 4 years, but the nucleus of the team stayed together. One of their dads said, “They will never play on such a team as this again.” How fortunate they are to have their own “Sandlot” in real life!
Before I let you in on my little team, I need to thank some coaches…
Ed M., Scott R., Tim B., Bob P., and Tony V. – I Love You guys like brothers! You guys were teachers, mentors, and coaches to not just the team – but to me! Most of all, you are great friends! I owe you 5 so much! I think of you guys often, longing for the days we stood in the dugouts together. I miss you! Thanks for it all! TACO!!!!!!
If I was to write a letter to my team, here is what it would say…
To My All Stars,
When you each marched into my world, all I wanted to do was help you be better men and a woman. I wanted you to make a difference in whatever corner of the world you would eventually find yourself in. I wanted to win a few ball games. I wanted to coach my son. I wanted to build a team. I wanted have a blast doing it. I got so much more than that. I got a family that still moves my heart today! We don’t talk often, but I spy on you. I hear and listen as you get older and climb the ladder of life. What I ended up getting, was so much more than I could ever hope for or even dream of. I got each of you!
Now I am going to write you a letter, and each of you get your own paragraph. But know this, everyone of you – even though each paragraph is to one player – they all have truths for each of you. Remember, we are a team. We win together. We lose together. We are Bourne!
Em #7 – Your heart is as big as Texas! Your will is larger! You have will and determination. You set the bar so often, and you will go places that will absolutely astonish you. Never forget that the inspiration behind you are 2 parents that call you a MIRACLE! Take your life and soar to places that you never dreamed of! Don’t let the world tell you it cannot be done. Do it! Be it! Track down that fly ball, pitch that strike, and hit that line drive – you can do anything!
“Murph” #12 – Your attitude is absolutely incredible! Never a foul word or foul emotion that slipped through the cracks, never a grimace at playing time or position; you are always in 100%. I love that about you! Remember teams are built by leaders, they are built around people like you. Stable. Positive. All in. Murph, never lose that quality! Always step to the plate with humility and grace. That hit is coming. Proud of you kid. Glad you are on the team.
“Camo” #3 – You were always a man among boys! You are so naturally talented. You are so stinking capable of everything you put your hands to. Don’t forget to work hard and be all that you can be. Remember to let people see you are human and that you are not just an athlete, but a person that loves and hurts alike! Never put a lid on the success that you will have. But always remember where you have come from! Don’t forget to smile…Let me see those teeth!
“Moose” #9 – You are a thinker! You never quit trying to out think everything. I love that about you, and I couldn’t stand that about you. It is a gift and a strength that you have. As you get older in life you will be able to do better and better at it for sure! Your heart and your head will come together and it will make sense in times of chaos. Wisdom will come from you and will be so amazing. Your smile is infectious. You are a likeable young man. Your parents have given you a strong foundation, always be the fighter when life comes to knock you down. You are and always be Moose!
“Swifty” #19 – Your heart is so soft. Don’t let anyone tell you that is wrong or bad. It is not! It is a sign of strength. Just do not let your emotions lie to you. Always make decisions based on truth, not feelings! Remember you are not failure if you keep on trying. Don’t stop trying! Go to places that you heart takes you to, and love with that same heart!
“Hollywood” #3 – There was never a young man with such swag as you Hollywood! I love to watch you, you always look good! Then I noticed that you didn’t just look good, you were a great competitor! I know you hate to loose, but remember that defeat isn’t defeat until you can’t make the come back! Always charge hard, but always love much. Don’t put the game before the people in the game! When life tries to knock you out, remember that it tried to knock your mom and dad out. Guess what it didn’t! And it won’t to you, just keep your heart, mind, and body right! Nobody better than you right now!
“Ocho” #8 – You’re playing football now! I love it! I know if brings you joy. Ben, always laugh and smile. Do things that bring your heart and smile to laugh. You have so much passion, more than most. Harness it to accomplish things that bring you to the place where you are content and in your wheel house! My favorite off the field memories are with you in it…pulling lobster pots, horseshoes in your backyard, fireworks on 4th of July…on and on. Thanks for keeping me on my toes and for making me laugh Coach Rowe!
“Juice Box” #10 – You came out of nowhere, at least that is how if felt, but it was like you were always there. You are a game changer. A team builder. Things happen when you show up to play. Your love and dedication to things you put your heart into amazes me. JB, remember there is nothing that you can not accomplish. Stay with the things that are in your heart. In other words, spend 80% of your time working on the things that you are good at, become great at them! Your parents are amazing servants, never lose their imprint on your life. Proud of you!
“Sticks” #11 – You were with the Padres, and we were together all the way through until the last year. I never felt like we were in trouble when your were on the field. I know you hated the outfield, but you made it your own and never quit on the team. Remember the old line, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog!” You are a fighter, never quit! Remember that your sisters’ eyes are watching you, don’t forget that you are leader when you feel like no one is watching, at least she is! You’re the best, there is nobody better! Keep climbing Sticks, no height is to tall for you!
“Sleeves” #4 – Man oh man! The only player that I have ever coached that caught 2 full games in 85+ degree – with 100% humidity weather. And you did it in long sleeves – twice! You are an animal! I love having you on the team. I love the attitude, the heart, the “I’m not going to quit Coach”! Your smile is contagious, and I will always see it when I think of you! Sleeves, you go on to accomplish some feats that you think are impossible. Go places you think are out of reach. Do things that people tell you cannot do. Be who you are deep down inside, and forget whatever people may say or think about you! I can’t wait to see you on the Master’s someday!
“Joseph” #6 – Most improved and most incredible emotionally charged young man! When you are up – you are all up, when you are down – your are sunk. Hey Joe, there is nobody else I would want in the #4 spot, bases loaded, 2 outs. I would put you in that spot 100 out of 100 times, regardless of the outcome in “The Game”. Just do you a favor, when you “fail” in “The Game”, be ready the next game – because you will succeed. Why, because you are a winner! You are the man! Be the leader that your mom and dad taught you to be. Remember that your emotions lie to you. Things are not a bad as they could be, and there is always someone that has it worse off than you. So be ready – you’re my clean up batter – the other team is scared of you! You are not little Joe, you are the man they call Joseph!
“Lion” #21 – I will never forget the play that made me pick you up. Pitcher pitched a fastball and your catchers mitt came right off. You flipped your mask, found the ball and threw the runner back to 2nd! You were 2 years younger, 20 pounds smaller, and a heart triple the size of any player in the league. I had to have you! You play with passion and intensity that sometimes get tangled in with angst and ferocity. Your strength, becomes your greatest weakness. The thing I love about you so much. Keep the passion and intensity, play with abandonment, lose the angst – it’s a game. You will not always be able to play games in life, but while you can, have fun, become great, and let your soul go free! You’re Lion, go free, run wild, but always remember that baseball and life are the only two places that you are always running to come back to HOME!
C.S. #1 – Day one you stole you heart! I wanted you on my team, but I had to play by the rules! I was hard on you because I knew there was greatest down in there. I ran you because you could be faster. I didn’t pitch you because you were an incredible infielder and I needed that. I love you because you needed to know what love is from a man that was 100% on your side! Your innocence and your love of laughter is a must, but never let people steal it because they are jealous or just mean. People don’t understand where joy and peace come from…you do…don’t forget! You are like son to me – never forget that!
“Hoppy” #5 – You are perhaps the hardest to write too! Even as I type this, tears are streaming down my cheeks at Starbucks! You’re a leader! It is not taught, studied, or even a mimicked presentation! You are a natural born leader! When you speak, people listen! When you leave or show up – everyone notices! When you hurt, people hurt with you, and when you laugh, others can’t help but find themselves laughing! I never had you on the team for your skills, your speed, or your power! I had you there, because you taught me to be better! You inspired me to never quit, even when all the odds were stacked against us, you believed we could win! You have a killer instinct, and I was made better for it! Hoppy, thanks for coaching the coach! Thanks for being the un-noted Captain of the All-Stars! Thanks for taking things on your shoulders that no other player wanted to shoulder! I cannot wait to see what you do with your life! I know this, you will be greater than you can ever imagine! You have my heart, and you will until it doesn’t beat! I am grateful for you Morgan! I am better because of you! P.S. Ask your mom about the exclamation marks!
“Champ/Big2na” #2 – My Son! The cheerleader! Captain Positive! You love like few people do. You have a heart for people that you don’t even know. You move me to greatness because of your greatness! You are a positive force to be reckoned with! I don’t deserve to call you son, and humbled that I get to! I am so honored that you and I get to live this life journey together! I know that the dream was to play baseball, but as you get closer to dreams becoming a reality – you are called to be and do greater things than this! Because you have honored God in the game of baseball, He is going to honor you in the game of life! You too have my heart son, you had it first! You get to call me dad, or better ‘POPS’! That is one of the 4 greatest joys to my ears! Remember don’t trip on the chalk. Stay on the fence cheering your team. Always play up not down. Always be you! Keep on swinging and never give up! I LOVE YOU SON! You are and always be my CHAMP!
Always remember that in batting practice – we swing the bats!
Listen to me, let me think, you just go play the game!
If you ask me to play there, what happens…you won’t!
Game ball goes to…
Let’s get it perfect around the horn, it’s easy – Throw, Catch, Turn Glove Side, Repeat!
I got nothing for you, just hit the ball!
Keep on swinging – Never Give Up!
Hey kid…Just you and me…There is nobody better than you right now!
Hey now, all these things, are lessons to you, to each other, to me and they are gift from each other! Days will be longer apart as to the times we get to together. Remember these things, remember the times we had. Also remember that there is a Coach that loves you all and you mean the world to! There is a “Head Coach” in in the sky that loves you even more than I do! He loves you so much that He gave His life for you! Life will take unexpected turns and twists, remember to live by this creed I wrote as a “Tip of the Cap” to you. I use the term “RIP IT“. Live your life with Righteousness, Integrity, Passion, Intensity, and Teamwork. This will serve you well!
And finally, as Jesus said in John 15:13 (The Message), “…Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.”
Thanks for teaching me to love the color purple! Nearly every time I see it – I think of each of you. I Love You Guys and Girl! You are my team and I miss you! You were my Sandlot! I am truly the luckiest man in baseball!