“The body is not made up of one part but of many." ~ 1 Corinthians 12:14
He showed up for practice with a new glove and cleats right from the box. Translation: Matt (11) had never played Little League, or any other baseball before. He clearly wasn't the teammate the other boys were hoping for.
Matt was painfully shy and appeared more fragile than rice paper. Bright, eager and verbose were not necessarily athletic qualities. While other kids on his team were chasing fly balls or taking batting practice, Matt seemed content drawing elaborate patterns in the dirt or reading the rule book. His teammates took notice and eventually gave up on Matt as a player.
Excelling at sports can result in a windfall; creating a cycle of self-confidence that provides a life-long advantage. But Matt knew he was a liability to the team. Midway through the season he’d yet to get a base hit (0 for 23)’ or catch a routine fly ball. He kinda liked baseball; he was just scared to death of playing it.
Then something occurred that changed the game.
Matt arrived early for their contest with the Titans … in an above-the-elbow cast. A bicycle accident had ended his season. He looked up into his coach's face and, with relief in his eyes, offered to quit the team.
Coach pitied the boy. But he had different suggestion.
He pulled the boy aside and said, "I don’t want you to quit. Will you try something new today?”
The frail boy nodded, “I’ll try.”
“I want you to coach third base. You’d be sorta the ‘captain’ of any runners on base after they round second base. “I’ve watched you Matt,” he continued. “You understand this game better than anybody on the team. We need you!”
“I’ll try Coach,” he repeated in a small voice.
With the game tied and two outs in the bottom of the final inning, Matt remained deadly focused from his position in the 3rd base coach’s box. A weak base hit to right field advanced Jorge toward third base. The safe play would have been to hold him at third.
Matt gambled Jorge’s speed versus the right fielder’s arm. He motioned Jorge to round third and dig for home. It was so close a play that many would have questioned Matt’s logic.
But Jorge beat the throw and tag by a fraction of a second. Game over.
With the reality of what just happened starting to settle in, Matt looked in the stands. Everyone was standing up, cheering and clapping. His mom was crying.
Jorge’s slide produced the run that won the game. But it was Matt’s decision as third base coach that set it all in motion. In the unlikeliest turn of events, he felt like the day's hero. Gone was the shy, scared eleven-year old, at least for now.
Holy Father, please help me know my place in the Body of Christ so that I can serve faithfully and productively and bring glory to You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.