What Constitutes True Greatness?

Sports involve competition and winning. This is the focus of the conversation of sports talk shows, around sports bars, etc. Greatness is determined by winning games and champion-ships. In every field of sports special awards are given to those athletes who excel in their field of endeavor. “Hall of Fames” have been established for those few who have been set apart for special recognition for lifetime achievements – the very highest honor that can be bestowed on any person in baseball, football, basketball, track, etc. Only a very few people attain to such heights.

I do not mean to downgrade or make light of such honors, but we need to recognize the limitation of such things. These men are not “gods” nor should they to become objects of worship. These honors are based upon athletic skills. Just because a man is superior in hitting or throwing a baseball does not mean that person is great in every measure of true greatness. Having spent a lifetime in the study of the Bible and having spent many years of my life in the field of sports, my definition of greatness has been mostly influence by “the Book.” I realize that sports have some usefulness in the development of character. I emphasize such things in talking to young people of all ages in various social settings – private and public schools, athletic groups, colleges, etc. But when sports become over emphasized or idolized, it works against the building of character. We have seen the sordid affects of this in our own society. It is good for athletes to strive to be the very best they can be, but when this worthwhile drive turns into arrogance, it becomes counter productive to the building of character. I am personally aware of so many examples of this that it has become a truism.

We do not need to deceive ourselves as to what recognition in sports really means.  It means only that a person is very good at doing something that is highly esteemed in our society, but it does not mean that the person is either moral or spiritual. As to this latter description, which in my mind involves true greatness, a great athlete may or may not exhibit the qualities of true greatness.

Due to my background in sports, I do enjoy a well played game and even feel emotional attachment in winning or losing when it involves my favorite teams, but I do not make this a measure of true sorrow or joy. At most, it is a hobby or has some recreational value, but never will it become an obsession. One reason is because of my personal knowledge of what goes on “inside the game” and the human flaws of those who play the game. I am speaking especially in reference to baseball. I can enjoy the game even more today since I am far removed from the actual competition as a player, etc. I can just be a normal fan if that is possible.

My definition of greatness has little to do with sports. Jesus Christ, my example and true hero, defined true greatness in various ways, but never in terms of worldly standards. He taught that humility is a quality of greatness. Here are two examples of His teaching on this point. At one point, Jesus and his disciples were having a discussion on the subject of greatness in the kingdom of God. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’.” (Matt. 18:1-4). On another occasion, the question of greatness arose among the disciples, and some foolishly defined greatness in terms of rank and power over others. “and there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' 26 "But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27 "For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. (Luke 22:24-27).

Arrogance does not become fallible man. Arrogance is the principle reason for the downfall of both men and nations. Any athlete who believes or announces that “he is the greatest” does himself no favors and only proves his blindness to reality. Arrogance leads to a lot of ugly traits such as rudeness, ingratitude, bitterness, etc. Great athletes may bask in the praise of men, but if they fall prey to believing all of the accolades, they are not wise. If they lose the common touch, or feel that the world owes them respect, even though they have not earned this respect, they have become inebriated by their own self-deception. They need to learn to what it means “lose their life so that they can gain it.” Some believe that success in sports is not compatible with humility, but I agree with the writer of Proverbs: “18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. 19 It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Pro. 16:18-19). Or “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Pro. 18:12).

Today, money has become a source of pride. A long time ago, Jesus Christ warned people about greed: “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). It is not wrong to have riches when they have been honestly or legitimately earned, but the apostle Paul, who himself had few material goods, wrote this to the rich: “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. . . . . Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (I Tim. 6:9-10, 17-19). By any standard, the modern successful athlete is rich and this can become a source of ungodly pride.

Some athletes I have known were only interested in “having fun” which they foolishly believed consisted in “partying, getting drunk, womanizing and engaging in all sorts of lusts of the flesh.” And they considered it strange that I did not participate in their lascivious ways or manner of life (see 1 Peter 4:4). They see athletics has a means of grabbing hold of the real life (“wine, women and song”) as the beer commercials clearly show. But little did they know that they were “dead while they were living” (see 1 Tim. 5:6) and such conduct has nothing to do with real life which brings true happiness. My concern is also the effect or influence professional athletes have upon the youth of our nation. It is important & natural for young people to look up to others as examples and role models. Often times only the bad examples catch the eye of the national press and the real stories of true greatness are overlooked or ignored.

Some are surprised today the learn about some of the excesses in sports and the embarrassing revelations of some of our “celebrities”. I am not at all surprised about any of this. Is it not because so many have a wrong sense of what comprises true greatness? The sooner we can get over our obsession with sports and sports celebrities and start to emphasize those qualities of true greatness, the world will be better off. But, of course, I have always been a little odd or extreme about this.

One final thought. Any person can be truly great in the sight of God and this does not depend upon special skills or abilities. This is a comforting thought indeed for most of us who mere mortals and will never fit into those special categories. The Bible teaches us about true greatness. It is found in seeking the praise of God and not the praise and honor that comes from men.
---Lindy McDaniel

Photo at beginning of article is a distant view of Mount Baker in Washington State taken on our trip in October, 2010.

If you would like to have monthly articles of Pitching For The Master E-mailed to you in advance, let me know by contacting me at: lindymcdaniel77@reagan.com. Your comments are always welcome.

The 2011 World Series

Excuse me for being caught up a bit in the 2011 Baseball World Series. I played for the Cardinals for seven years (1955-1962) and have followed the team over the years, but found myself rooting for the Texas Rangers. I have followed the Rangers closely for several years since I live in the Dallas/Arlington area. This has been an exciting series to watch. Guess I am not such a great fan since I will not pay the $500.00 to $3,000.00 per ticket it would cost to personally attend a game. But there are worse ways to use money, so I am not being critical here. Also, in my opinion, I might add that the baseball fans in both St. Louis and in Dallas are the best and most polite fans in baseball. In this you will see a real contrast with Boston, New York, or even Los Angeles fans as some other examples. No matter which of those teams win the championship, do not expect to see a lot of rioting and arrests as typically seen in many other cities.

I thought about calling this article, “Who Is The Greatest?” for that is what fuels sports competition. “Who is the best” is the fodder of all of the sports talking heads, and special awards are handed out in all kinds of categories in every field of sports. The Baseball World Series is part of that whole process. It represents baseball competition at it’s highest level with the winner taking all the spoils.

As I think about the 2011 World Series just completed, and since I write from the standpoint of spiritual lessons that can be learned from sports, then what over all lessons can be learned from this event?  Below are some of my conclusions that ought to be obvious to anyone who has witnessed these games, either in person or watching on T.V. So here goes . . . . .

#1: The game is unpredictable. Who would have thought that in game #3 there would be a total of 25 runs scored, with the winning team scoring 18 runs to be followed in game #4 with a pitching duel and the winner of game 3 being shut-out? Also, most all the games were close and the difference in winning and losing is usually determined by one key play or out even though the game may last for 3 or 4 hours. Success one day, no matter how great, means nothing as to what will happen the next day. As a standard rule, great pitching stops great hitting, but great pitchers are not always great. Yes, the game basically comes down to pitching, defense and timely hitting. Game #6 in St. Louis was one of the craziest and most bazaar games in the whole history of baseball! Some have called it the greatest game in baseball history. If greatness is based upon drama and excitement, perhaps there is a case for saying this, but if it is based upon excellence of performance, this is far from the greatest game. It was in and out, up and down and round and round. The lead changed hands over and over. At the end, the Rangers were one pitch away from winning the series with a two run lead only to have the Cardinals hit a double or triple to clear the bases and tie the game. This reinforces the concept that time and circumstance affect all things (Eccles. 9:11: “again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.”).   The game was also a comedy of errors leading to bad consequences, which leads me to my next point . . . . . . .

#2: All people are fallible. This truism has been demonstrated in bold letters in this series. In this series we have seen the fallibility of players, managers and umpires. The great Albert Pujols put on a show of great hitting in game #3 to be followed by calling for a ‘hit-and-run’ at a most inopportune time and failing to cleanly field a cut-off throw from the outfield leading to a loss in game #5. The great future Hall-of –Fame manager for the Cardinals failed to communicate to the bullpen as to who he wanted to warm up which contributed to the same loss. There were some great unbelievable plays in the field, but also some very routine plays that were messed up. I might add that Pujols three homeruns in game #3 were all hit off of mistakes by the pitchers. So it is not as if any player is invincible, but time and circumstance affect all men. It is never wise to make an icon out of any fallible human being. Such worship belongs to God alone, thank you. Baseball is a game, not only of great heroics, but also of goof ups, and no one is immune from this. Just don’t let it happen in the World Series, at a critical point in time, because then it will mark you for life. I say this in jest but it does happen. I am particularly thinking of those two Ranger relief pitchers who were only one strike away from being the pitcher of record when their club cinched the Championship, only to fail and having to live with the consequences. But these are not the only examples of being the “goat” in a critical situation. How can you account for the record number of walks given up by the Ranger pitchers? Well, that’s another discussion.  My next point is that . . . .

#3: Little things mean a lot. That stolen base by Kinsler, safe by a hair, that led to scoring the winning run in game #2. Note: That was the only stolen base in the entire series by the Rangers who are known as a base stealing ballclub. Who would have thought? The missed call by the first base umpire that led to a 9 run inning in game #3. The perfect throw by the right fielder Cruze to home plate that resulted in a critical out in game #2. On and on you can analyze each game and various plays. In the final game, a Ranger pitcher had the bases loaded with two outs and a 3 ball 2 strike count on the hitter. He made a perfect pitcher on the low outside corner of the plate, only to have the umpire miss the call. So here is an example of par excellence only to have it cancelled by a bad call. This illustrates both the technical nature of the game plus the fallibility of man. Baseball is a game of inches and fractions of inches. It is this attention to details that make the difference between winning and losing. This underscores the point that . . . . . . 

#4 The game is not easy! All of those who competed in the World Series will agree with that statement. The appeal of the sports is simply this: It is an all out effort to win in open honest competition. You witness up close the determination on the face of the pitcher. You see the pressure mount when there are men on base in critical situations. You see the intensity of the batter as he struggles to hit a very small round ball on the good part of the bat. When everything works just right, it is like a mighty work of art, whether the batter swings and misses or the ball is hit out of the park. You observe the nervousness of the manager when the game is on the line and the tenseness of the players as they watch from the dugout. Throughout the game you cannot miss the ebb and flow of the fans as they hang on every pitch and the frustration or joy continues to mount. Yes, it is a long game, but that is the way it is supposed to be. And last, but not least, the game is not over until the last man is out! This leads me to my final point . . . . . . .

#5 Pride should always be subdued. Sports people are always asking the question, “Who is the greatest pitcher?” “Who is the greatest hitter?” “Which is the greatest team in history?” These are always questions of endless speculation and debate. But I keep asking, “What difference does it make in the whole scheme of things?” What if it could be proven that Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball player of all time. Does that mean that he didn’t have flaws?  Does that mean he was an expert on anything outside of baseball?  To put things into perspective, which is better, to be the world’s greatest baseball player or to be a great father or husband? The latter is more important, but that doesn’t give you a lot of publicity or make you millions of dollars.

If you win there is always a sense of pride, but it is always with the recognition of all of the factors that made success possible in the first place. In fact, it is very humbling to realize that winning depended on a lot of factors outside of our control and also the contributions of a lot of people and things. Only a fool would become puffed up and declare that “I did it all myself.” I am not a fan of players who are so full of themselves and become offended if they are not recognized as “The Greatest.” These types of players become disruptive to every team the join. But often this attitude is encouraged by the constant demand to know who is the best on the part of so many people involved in sports. So, in my opinion, a true champion is always full of gratitude on many different levels. It is ungodly pride that needs to say, “I am the greatest player, or the greatest this or that.” And we do know that a haughty spirit comes before a fall. No great champion can afford the luxury of pride. If one becomes puffed up with pride, they are not living in the world of reality. One word of caution, “Don’t believe all the press clippings!”

Even the disciples of Jesus Christ had a problem with the desire to be the greatest. “They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’ Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me’.” (Mark 9:33-37). They wanted to know, “Who is the greatest?” The answer of Jesus defused that notion in a hurry.

As I have written so many times, sports can teach us a lot about life and religion. That is why the apostle Paul used the language of sports to teach disciples about the true way of life in Jesus Christ. Paul’s purpose involves drawing similarities and contrasts between the physical and the spiritual. For those who belong to Jesus Christ the discipline and struggles are never in vain and the rewards of success are more than worth all the effort. If more had the passion for Christ that is so evident in the players, managers, and fans for the game of baseball, then there would be reason for great rejoicing. The true disciples of Jesus Christ experience a continual celebration and thanksgiving.

The photo at the beginning of this article is of yours truly displaying the Top Relief Pitcher of the Year Awards for the National League in 1960 and 1963. I would have much preferred celebrating with my teammates a World Championship which I never experienced.

If you would like to have monthly articles of Pitching For The Master E-mailed to you in advance, let me know by contacting me at: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com. Your comments are always welcome.

The Idolatry Of Sports

This is not an anti-sports article, although some may perceive it to be, but is designed to expose the idolatry of sports. There are those who eat, sleep and breathe sports, and who see their own identity as coming from the game itself. This can be observed both from the standpoint of fans and certain players who bask in the glorification of the game. I see the game as offering a great insight into human behavior under the extreme pressures of winning and losing. To many it is not just a game but a total way of life. In comparison, the way of Jesus Christ is boring and without appeal to those who worship at the shrine of sports.

I write as an insider, one who has played at the highest levels of baseball for 21 years, and has a deep appreciation for the game. I continue to follow closely baseball, basketball and football and understand many of the finer points of these game in terms of technique, strategy, and competition. In writing this article, I am not expecting sports to conform to the standard of the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am quite sure that not one word about Jesus Christ is found in the rule books of the game. I always understood that playing baseball was not like attending a Bible class. I am especially writing to those who, like myself, might enjoy sports but who are also interested in following Jesus Christ. In fact, this is the main thrust of Pitching For The Master.

Baseball’s Greatest Day?

On Wednesday evening, September 28, 2011, after teaching a Bible class, I watched on T.V. what was perhaps the most amazing single day in Major League Baseball history. I watched all of this unfold before my very eyes. This day exhibited in bold letters all the drama of agonizing defeat and the joys of winning. The fate of several teams and individuals was determined suddenly in a few minutes and the raw drama was played out in different cities at the same time. Teams that were supposed to win, lost, and teams that were given almost no change of winning , won. It was the most amazing combination of improbabilities that I had ever seen and left a lot of people shocked and stunned. Unless you watched the Boston Red Sox play in Baltimore, or the New York Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays, or the Philadelphia Phillies play the Atlanta Braves, you cannot even understand what I am writing about in this paragraph. The chief beneficiaries of this were the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays. I feel a bit sorry for the fans in Tampa who left the game after their team trailed the Yankees 7 to 0 in the eighth inning and failed to see their team win. The Red Sox and the Braves, teams who were expected to easily win their division going into September, totally fell apart. The bitter results of these collapses were not known until the very end of the final game of the regular season. In spite of their collapse, Boston came close to salvaging their season. They were leading by one run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two strikes on the batter with the bases empty. All they needed was one more out. It never happened. It is hard not to identify on some level with certain individual players who will receive extra blame or credit for all of this. Historically, certain players are known for what they did in certain critical moments in those “bigger than life” games. To explain the drama of all of this would take hours of commentary, and so I will not even attempt to do so.

As to those tragic players and managers who will be blamed for the failures of their teams, I must say to them that there is life beyond baseball. In the whole scheme of things, and in the light of what is truly important, this is not significant. And for those who are enjoying the great euphoria of the moment, this too is not significant in the overall scheme of things unless we foolishly make it so. This is why I am writing this article. All of the things that we experience in the game are momentary and do not last, no matter how great or awful. We need to get our heads on straight and understand what is really important in life.

Some Amazing Insights

I have a good Christian friend, Curt Hart, who is a student of the game of baseball and is a collector of baseball artifacts. He even teaches the history of baseball in a university. He is quite passionate about the importance of knowing the history of the game which is second only to understanding the history of America, which in his mind go hand in hand. We often discuss baseball from the standpoint of black history, Curt Flood and the reserve clause, whether or not Pete Rose should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the steroid scandal, etc. He knows baseball minutia like no one else I know. We do have some very interesting conversations. But recently I asked him one simple question, since he has rubbed shoulders with many famous baseball players and has had lengthy interviews with top stars. He is also a professional photographer. Here was my question, “In all of your years of being involved in the game of baseball, have you ever known any player who was totally wrapped up in the game, that is, where it had become his whole life and identity, who at the same time was a faithful husband and dedicated Christian?” His answer was “no”. I followed up that question with this, “Do you know any one in the field of sports who plays on Sunday, who worships God on a regular basis during the season according to the teaching of the Bible?” Again, he said, “No.” I ask these questions because this man is a deacon of the church where he attends and is a faithful Christian. Now these answers are from his own experience, and there may be exceptions to this unknown to him. I personally played baseball on Sunday, so I am not objecting to playing baseball or working a secular job on Sunday. What I am opposing is being obsessed with the game to the degree that God becomes secondary.

Now I do not believe that it is wrong to be a fan and do acknowledge that there is recreational and entertainment value in sports. Also participation in amateur sports does promote physical fitness and build good character depending on proper coaching and leadership. Neither do I view it as wrong to participate in sports as an honest profession. However from the viewpoint of a Christian, under no circumstances should sports, any hobby or activity come before God or things of greater importance like family or country.

Defining Idolatry

We do not need to form a graven image and fall down before it in order to be guilty of idolatry. Idolatry has to do with how we esteem things or people in our hearts and the passions that flow from these perceptions. The apostle Paul explained the general concept of idolatry and the actions it prompts in Romans 1:18-32. There are countless examples that I could give of the idolatry of sports. Nor is sports the only form of idolatry in our country. We can just as easily idolize rock or movie stars, politicians, or other such people. People can act in some very weird or crazy ways, even rioting or engaging in extreme behavior just because they have allowed some idol to take over or control their lives. Even the love of the world (specifically involving the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life) is a form of idolatry (see 1 John 2:15-17). To put this in very practical terms, if you were given a choice between worshipping God in His appointed way or going to the World Series, which would you choose? Would you be willing to put the kingdom of God first in your life even if it causes you to give up something that you treasure? The rich young ruler was not willing to give up his riches even though from all accounts he was a very religious man (see Luke 18:18-24). He fell short of discipleship at a most critical level.

Some Personal Examples

Years ago I had a very sad experience. A mother came to me all excited and told me that her 26 year old son wanted to turn his life around and would definitely be at service on Sunday morning. She was expecting him to come forward and be baptized. I thought it strange that he did not want to be baptized immediately, since the only time we are guaranteed is now. All of the baptisms we read about in the New Testament involved urgency and there was no delay (see Acts 2:38; Acts 8:35-38; Acts 22:16, etc.). In the meantime, he was offered a ticket to go to the Kansas City Chiefs football game. He chose to go to the game rather than come to the service. The following Monday he suddenly died of a heart attack. His mother was heartbroken and blamed God. I preached the funeral, but the mother was wrong to blame God. Unfortunately the son chose his first love which was sports.

I have known of families who have allowed the love of recreation and family outings to take their hearts away from God. One family bought a boat, and when school was out in the summer time, they spent all of the weekends on the lake. They told me that they were having their own personal devotionals and that being outdoors brought them closer to God. In time, they quit assembling with God’s people altogether and lost faith in God. They were not paying attention to God’s plan for growth and development which is a whole other subject.

I have sadly experienced the loss of church members to football. We had a man, who attended along with his family, who was an outstanding high school football coach. But when football season approached, he and his family just disappeared. This was, as he explained to me, because football demanded his full-time, Sunday mornings, and all. Obviously, football came first in his life. It was costly to both him and his family. In Texas, football is indeed king. Since then I have had conversations with other coaches, and they expressed the same thoughts. But, as one successful coach explained, God is still number one in our lives because I have special devotionals with the coaches on Sunday and the players pray before all the games. How convenient! At least I’m glad that the ACLU hasn’t stopped this practice. This sounds a bit like Major League Baseball who has their own “Devotional Programs” on Sunday so that the spiritual needs of the players can be satisfied. I am grateful that baseball considers the spiritual life of the players to be important, but I am personally obligated to worship God according my own understanding and conscience and not through some program provided by baseball. Many in sports are attempting to provide for both the physical and spiritual needs of their coaches and players through devotionals and prayers, but is this a proper role of sports and can this be done without forced compliance or a violation of individual conscience? There are several “Quasi religious organizations” designed to do this very thing such as “The Fellowship Of Christian Athletes -- FCA.” Some churches are doing the same thing in the opposite direction by providing physical exercise, recreation and entertainment for their members. In such cases, churches understand their mission as providing social needs rather than spiritual – a strange confusion of values. They concede to the sports mania by attempting to use it to attract members. Have you heard of the gospel of “weight loss?” -- a truly transforming message!

Christians Should Work To Resolve Conflicts

A better approach seems to be working out special arrangements for those who feel a special need to worship God according to their own understanding and conscience. I am happy to work for a boss who has high ethical standards, but I am not looking to him to provide my spiritual needs. The work place is not my church family. Likewise, I do not look to sports to set the boundaries of my worship. If baseball had told me, “Lindy, we want to sign you to a professional contract, but we cannot allow you to worship on Sunday morning and come to the ballpark late.” Then my response would have been, “O.K., that is your right. I will seek another profession.” Under normal circumstances, secular bosses will accommodate your religious beliefs. They want workers who are trustworthy, dependable and honest, and a true Christian certainly fits that description. But they do not want you to play games with them just to get special privileges.

I know that some football players are religious for some have been open in expressing their personal faith in Christ, etc. But for the life of me, I cannot understand how one can play professional football on Sunday and still have time and opportunity to worship God. This appears to be a classic example of conflict of interest. Perhaps I am wrong, but I would like for someone to explain to me how that is compatible. As I see images of the stadiums filling up with people on Sunday, I wonder how many of those people worship God and have totally dedicated their lives to the service of Jesus Christ. I admit using a broad brush here, and so I must allow for special arrangements being made that would satisfy God and keep intact the concept of putting God first in everything. I am well aware of the whole concept of making special arrangements to accommodate faith (Read Daniel Chapter One). The bottom line is that our faith cannot be compromised in order to serve any god regardless of its nature.

Baseball was good to me in that it allowed me to worship God on the first day of every week. In fact, that was the only condition under which I would be willing to play. After I retired, I made no attempt to hang on as a coach or a manager. I knew that as a manager or coach, I would be expected to come to the ballpark early on Sunday and would not have the freedom to worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience and the word of God. I served under a Yankee pitching coach, and after four years with the club, I learned by accident that he was a Christian. After my discovering this, he was somewhat embarrassed because he never attended worship services of any kind during the season. He knew he would need to explain why he did not need to follow Hebrews 10:25 which teaches that Christians should not be guilty of forsaking the assembling together, etc. He explained to me, “My wife attends for me during the season.” Nevertheless, I understood his dilemma, for it is more difficult to be granted special treatment as a pitching coach than as a player whose services were more in demand. My impression was that he never made any attempt to resolve this problem.

We Are Blessed In America

Christians today are exceedingly blessed in our country to have the freedom of religion in the first amendment. Many of the early disciples of Jesus Christ had no such freedom and were subject to severe persecution. The early Christians refused to join many of the work guilds because these were associated with the worship of pagan gods. Thus, they chose poverty over idolatry. How many today would be willing to make that choice?

One way to determine what idols occupy your heart is to be honest in how you invest your time, money, sacrifice, passion, interests, etc. What are you really passionate about? What gives you inward joy? How do you use your spare time? There are indeed some spiritually indifferent things that can become an obsession and actually take the place of God. I could make a long list of such things that might involve family, marriage, children, nature, various hobbies and even love for country. This may sound strange to many of you who are totally involved in sports or in other matters and seldom think about the meaning of life and God. If so, I would pray that you might discover those things that are truly meaningful and worth selling all that you have in order to obtain. Jesus said, “Whosoever will lose his life will save it.”

As an athlete experiences the agony of defeat and the euphoria of winning, he should consider these facts: There is no agony that surpasses the agony Jesus went through on the cross and there is no joy that surpasses the joy of salvation made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Everything else pales in comparison.

This article is unusually long and if you have read to this point, I am a bit surprised and pleased. If you have questions I would be happy to answer them. My purpose is always to exalt Jesus Christ. If you think that in some particular I have failed to do this, you would be my friend to point this out. This article comes from a lot of experience in living as a Christian in the real world of sports and having to weigh a lot of choices over the years. Although not without sin, I always strive to keep my eye on the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Below are a few Biblical passages for your consideration.

Exo. 20:3-4; 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not
make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or
on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 "You shall not
worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me. (This passage condemns all forms of pagan idolatry)

Psa. 73:25-26: 25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I
desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is
the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (This passage is speaking of God as the greatest reality in our lives)

Eccles. 12:13-14: 13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclessiastes has a very pessimistic outlook, but it is written from the viewpoint of life on earth apart from God. These last two verses state the true purpose of life which will bring happiness and true meaning).

Matt. 6:33: 33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and
all these things will be added to you. (This passage teaches that the
kingdom and righteousness of Christ is to hold first place in our lives)

Matt. 16:24-26: 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Does it really matter if we have championship rings but miss the main prize?)

Lindy McDaniel,
Pitching For The Master, October, 2011

The photo at the beginning of this article is of me pitching in Yankee Stadium in 1969

If you would like to have monthly articles of Pitching For The Master E-mailed to you, let me know by contacting me at: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com. Your comments are always welcome.

Little League Baseball

I watched on ESPN the Little League World Series games in South Williamsport, PA, and was caught up in the moment. I was impressed by the high level of play by these 11 to 13 year old players. The level of their skill in fielding, hitting and pitching was amazing. They played like miniature professionals, but with all the drama and innocence of amateur baseball. They obviously put their whole hearts into every play, as both their emotions and skills were put on display before thousands of fans and a T.V. audience of millions. They freely expressed both joy and sorrow, yet they were able to keep their composure and self-control. You cannot make this up. Nothing was pro-scripted. I was impressed by their sportsmanship and teamwork. They rooted for all of their teammates, and wanted to win with great passion, but they were gracious in losing and showed affection for the opposing team after the game. I was also impressed by the statements of coaches and parents. They displayed some of the finer qualities of sports competition.

After the championship game between Japan and the Huntington Beach, CA team, many of the boys expressed that this was the most important event in their lives. Many of the parents expressed the same thing. So far as I know, this is the only amateur sport that has been taken to such levels of interest and publicity involving 11 to 13 year old boys. The Little League World Series is highly promoted and hyped up and is seen by millions world wide. If you watched the games this year, it lived up to its hype. Earlier the team from Montana had won against the California team 1 to 0 ending with a game winning home run. Since the tournament was “double elimination”, the CA team made a comeback to be in the finals and win the World Series. The team from Japan had earlier beaten the Montana team to be in the Championship game. The final game could not have been scripted any better ending with a game winning hit in the bottom of the final inning.

What I witnessed illustrated why the apostle Paul often used the language of sports to make his points regarding spiritual matters. Sports teach some obvious values such as striving for excellence, goal setting, working hard, discipline, conforming to rules, teamwork, overcoming disappoints, motivation, etc. You can find all of these principles in such passages as 1 Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 3:12-14; 2 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 12:1-2, etc. Now sports do not automatically teach these values for I have seen bad behavior on the part of players, coaches, parents and fans at both the Little League level as well as in the pros. But if you have good coaches, these values can be taught as a natural part of the game.

Even though sports can be a positive thing, and success in sports can produce a good feeling and great memories, as seen in the Little League championship games, there are things in life that are more important. I am all for kids having fun and that fun being shared by parents especially when it is based upon wholesome activities like playing baseball, but such things do fade away, even if it is watched by millions of people. Paul’s reason for writing about sports was to make this exact point. Here is what Paul wrote: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Here Paul admitted that those athletes do play to win, they exercise great self-control, but in the end they do it to obtain a perishable wreath. The perishable wreath was their reward. This represented all of the honor and recognition that goes with winning. But the key word here is perishable. It has no lasting value. Paul is contrasting this perishable wreath with something that is imperishable. One indeed does have value, but not in comparison with that which has much greater value. Those who would attain this greater goal, the goal of eternal life, will achieve it by also striving to win, by self-control, and by all of the same qualities that are seen in the successful athlete. With this in mind, go back and read all of the passages that I have mentioned and you will find this exact parallel or comparison.

Just as Paul used sports to make a point, so I also use my baseball career to make the same point. My baseball career gives me an opportunity to get a hearing on something that is far greater. I often go up to a stranger or a person who is waiting on me at a restaurant or place of business, and ask, “Are you a baseball fan?” If they say, “Yes I am!”, I may start a conversation about the game of baseball. If they say, “No, I do not like any sports!”, that likewise leads to a conversation. I may say, “Most of my friends are not involved in sports either” or “do you have parents or grandparents or kids involved in sports?” Usually they say, “Yes, I do!” Then they say, “Why do you ask?” I respond by saying, “Well, that was my career a long time ago.” I almost always end up giving them a card with my signed photo and the major stats of my career. Most people are excited by meeting a Major League Baseball player, or should I say an “Ex” major league baseball player. I ask them to go to my website and read some of my articles. I suppose that I am rather bold in doing this, but my aim is to give them exposure to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I seldom meet a person, even if they are not into sports, that has no interest in my autographed card. In most cases, it gives a little joy to their more or less boring day, and it is a conversation starter. This is just a little sample of ways I can start conversations. Seldom do I find a person that I cannot relate to on some level, but in all of this, I am not only interested in meeting new people, but I am especially interested in their souls. It is a lot of fun, and hopefully it will do some good.

Watching the Little League games has brought back a lot of memories. I did not play organized baseball until I was fifteen years old, but I can relate to how those boys must have felt. I could feel their excitement as well as their disappointment. My youngest brother, Kerry Don, did play little league baseball, and was very outstanding. When I saw the excitement of the parents, I thought of my own parents who always attended our games. There were days when my parents would be torn between attending either Kerry’s little league game or my brother Von’s American Legion game in a different town and at the same time listening to the radio broadcast of my playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a fun time for them but they were more interested in our spiritual welfare.

I end the article with something that ought to be the real goal of parents and children. It was Paul’s statement about the upbringing of young Timothy. He credited Timothy’s mother and grandmother for how Timothy turned out. He wrote, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5). Paul commended Timothy by writing, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Timothy never won a Little League championship, but he had received a legacy that was far better. “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:7-8). --- Lindy McDaniel

You may contact me writing to my home address: Lindy McDaniel, 1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166 or E-mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com. If you wish to receive my monthly article attached to E-mail, please let me know and you will added to that list. These articles appear monthly on the Pitching For The Master blog. This can be accessed by first going to my website: lindymcdaniel.com. A button on the website will take you to the blog.

The photo at the beginning of this article is that of my son Jonathan at age 13 when he played Little League Baseball.

James Finney, my friend

What are the above photos all about, and who is James Finney? What does this man have to do with baseball? Well, let me explain. When I was traded from the San Francisco Giants to the New York Yankees in July of 1968, James Finney became a very important person in my life, and perhaps more than any person, made my life enjoyable playing for the Yankees. The first photo was taken in 1970 next to the Hackensack river in Hackensack, New Jersey. This photo shows Mary Louise, wife of James, their youngest son Paul and James. They are about to be taken in a flight over the New York City area by a friend of mine, John Trimble , who was at that time a flight engineer for Eastern Airlines. They will be flying in a single engine sea plane and took off on the same river used by Charles Lindbergh in May of 1927 when he flew across the Atlantic ocean to France. As a side note, when I was four years old, my dad started calling me “Lindy” after that famous flyer. His plane was called “the Spirit of St. Louis” and ironically, St. Louis is where I spent seven years of my baseball career. Getting back to my story, that same day I was taken up by John Trimble and saw many great views of New York City, which are shown in the above photos, including one of Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium being the last two photos, the last showing the inside of the stadium.

Word came to me on Friday, July 8, 2011, that James Finney had died. He had just celebrated his 95th birthday a few days before on the 4th of July. He was a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ for 77 years, both in Africa and in America. When I came to the Yankees, he was preaching in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and lived in the preacher’s house right next to the church building.

Over the years, the home of James and Mary Louise Finney was open to one and all. In addition to their own four boys, they kept about 18 different college age boys during the summer months, who worked for Nabisco in order to help pay their way through college. Some church members would drive from Long Island and spend Saturday night with the Finney’s so that they could attend services the next morning. James would take me on personal tours of New York city in his Volkswagen Bug, and introduced me to gobs of the local people in the city of Fair Lawn. He kept that Volkswagen spotless and put about 215 thousand miles on it. He taught me the value of a car. He later bought a Pontiac Station-Wagon and put almost 400 thousand miles on it. With four boys I think he needed that extra room. Mary Louise worked part time in the fabric and decorating department at Bamberger, a large department store. They could make money stretch a long way.

When I joined the New York Yankees, they had three boys still at home, and I would leave them tickets for the Yankee games, as well as other boys which stayed in the Finney’s home. That is, when they were able to attend. James spoke perfect English in the pulpit and all of his lessons were very well prepared. It was always a highlight for me to attend services there and I met so many friendly people who put God first in their lives. He introduced me to the James MacKnight Commentaries and I still have these in my library. I also purchased a copy of the “Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible” at his suggestion. As stated at his funeral, he was a walking library of knowledge.

I lived with Mary Louise and James in the spring before my family was able to join me. James set up a large desk in the office area at the church building so I could work on Pitching For The Master and other projects. This man was beloved in the congregation, and I would often go with him to visit members as well as do some evangelism. Mary Louise would cook a meal for me at 3:00 in the afternoon so that I could arrive at Yankee Stadium by 4:30. I gave Mary Louise rent money and I think that she spent it all on food, for which the whole family was grateful. She was a very good cook, but she went out of her way for me. Listen, she would also have to prepare meals for the others at regular times, so she did double duty just to please me. After many a game, I would meet James at the Forum, a restaurant in New Jersey, where several major highways come together, and have a bit to eat and we would discuss the game or whatever else was on our minds. As I said, he made my stay in New York very pleasant.

After learning of James death, I made arrangements to fly from Love Field in Dallas to Denver, and at the airport met a dear friend, Alan Geer, who had made arrangements to fly from Tampa, Florida and arrived at the airport the same time, and together we rented a car and drove to Colorado Springs, where James had done local preaching and had lived for many years. Alan was one of the many boys who had stayed in the Finney’s home and worked at Nabisco when they lived in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. James died a peaceful death resting in his favorite chair in his office. We went to the funeral services and spent three days with the family. Mary Louise had previously died from an auto accident on January 18, 1993.

Three of the boys (Tim, Paul, and Mark) spoke at the service. Also a letter was read from Joe, the oldest son who could not attend. The church building was full of people and it was a very moving and emotional experience, with different speakers and congregational singing. The main address was delivered by Melvin Curry, an old friend of James who had accompanied James on many trips to Africa and other missionary work. Melvin for years was head of the Bible Department at Florida College. Melvin compared James to the great patriarchs of the Bible, and made a very strong case. After the service there was a luncheon at the local civic center equipped with a live mike where people took turns speaking about how James had touched their lives. Although there is sadness in the death of a loved one, this day also took on the spirit of the celebration of a great life. James was the type of person who always lifted up everyone around him. But he could be tough too – just ask the children. We spent the afternoon exchanging story after story.
How can you capture or recount 95 years of living in just one afternoon? As Alan and I headed back to the air port two days later, we knew that our decision to come was well founded.

Thus, it is fitting that I dedicate this issue of Pitching For The Master to James Finney, an extraordinary preacher, father, husband, grandfather, friend, etc. who had left behind a great legacy for future generations. It is not possible to put into one short article the value of his life, and so I will not attempt to do so.

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” Rev. 14:13

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Articles are published monthly in the blog “Pitching For The Master”. In order to go to this blog simply go to lindymcdaniel.com and from there hit the button that leads you to the blog. You can contact me my going to my E-mail address at lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com or write to me at 1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166. Thanks. Lindy McDaniel

Jim Brewer, My Friend

Jim Brewer pitched in the Major Leagues for 17 years. He was my friend. In the off season, he lived for many years in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma . I think that he was either full or half Indian, but I do not remember which tribe. I came to know him in 1963 when I was traded from the Cardinals to the Cubs. He was traded one year later to the Dodgers. Seems like the Cubs have a history of letting the best ones get away.

Here is some information about Jim before I had joined him with the Cubs. “While pitching in only his fifth game, on August 4, 1960, the Chicago Cubs rookie was attacked on the mound by the hot-headed Cincinnati Reds second baseman Billy Martin for throwing too far inside. A Billy Martin roundhouse broke Brewer’s cheekbone, and the Cubs sued Martin for $1 million in damages” (The Biographical Encyclopedia of Baseball, page 125). As Jim later related to me, when Martin charged the mound, Jim had his defenses up. But as Martin got close , he dropped his arms, which caused Jim to relax, and suddenly Martin popped him in the jaw. Martin was a street fighter and knew all the tricks. This is not the last time Martin’s hot-headedness got him into trouble. Many thought that would be the end of Jim’s career. Those early years were difficult for him. He was a left-handed relief pitcher with good stuff on his fast ball, but was somewhat erratic with his control. He was not enjoying much success in the beginning years of his career.

I remember the time Jim was brought into a game against the Mets in the Polo Grounds with the bases loaded and two outs. It was the bottom of the 9th and the met fans were screaming their lungs out. You would have had to be there to understand. The Cubs had a 2 or 3 run lead. The manager, Bob Kennedy, had brought in Jim to face the left-handed pinch hitter, Ed Kranepool. Jim quickly got two strikes on the batter. Then suddenly, on the next pitch, Kranepool pulled the ball into the right-field stands for a grand slam homerun to win the game. The Polo Grounds became a mad house! Jim was fit to be tied. He slowly had to walk over 450 feet to the wall in center field and up the many steps to the visitor’s clubhouse amid the jeering fans.

I have never witnessed a more dejected player! At first I thought he was going to tear up the clubhouse. It took him a good twenty minutes to settle down and to finally take a shower. To make matters worse, we had to take a long bus ride to Philadelphia. The Cubs were a pretty subdued bunch of players. I sat with Jim in the very back of the bus and we talked all the way to Philly. I had been in his shoes a few times myself, and could well understand his anger and frustration. This is a part of baseball that a lot of people do not know about, but it is a very common experience. Fortunately, for Jim, it didn’t happen in the World Series or in some high profile game. But that seemed little consolation at the time.

It was not long after that Jim was traded to the Dodgers. I later heard that the great Warren Spahn , another American Indian from Oklahoma, taught Jim how to throw a “screwball” which is a change up pitch that breaks away from a right-handed hitter. Jim went on to became one of the great relief pitchers of the game, pitching for the Dodgers and saving over 20 games for many seasons in a row. His total record in relief pitching was 62 wins, 49 losses, 132 saves and an overall E.R.A. of 3.07. He had 810 strikeouts against 360 walks in 1039 innings. Folks, those are very good stats. If Jim and I could combine our records, we would be in the Hall of Fame for sure! I hope that I had just a little something to do with this by encouraging him at the lowest point of his career. Life is really strange in so many ways. Jim was a good man and a fellow Christian. I wish I could have spent more time with him. As I think of him now, I remember that he was always cheerful and smiling. Many years later, sometime after the fact, I heard that he had been killed in an auto accident before reaching age 50. I wonder what ever happened to his family and kids. When you are young and busy living and competing, you miss the significance of many things, but as you grow older you see life with a different perspective.

I’m not really big on baseball reunions. But it would be really nice to have a few days with a selective group of baseball players, both living and dead, to talk about life and old times. Jim would be on the top of that selective list. My brother Von, who died in 1995, was especially interested in researching the Indians, especially those in Oklahoma, and it would have been a real treat just to listen and hear Jim and Von talk about this part of Oklahoma history. Allie Reynolds, Warren Spahn and Cal McLish are all Indians and in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. In my humble opinion, Jim Brewer belongs in that distinguished group.

Paul wrote: “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). It is critically important that we connect with people. Not only to pat them on the back for a job well done but also to identify with their suffering and pain. Unfortunately, many of my old teammates have passed on from this life, but I still have the memories of those very active but volatile days when we were just all trying to compete against the best players in the world. – Lindy McDaniel

Sorry that I could not download a photo of Jim Brewer. The photo you see if of me in Cub uniform.

Article in Pitching For The Master--- July, 2011
1095 Meadow Hill Drive
Lavon, Texas 75166

Contact Lindy by E-mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com

My son Joey is setting up a special website containing the brief story and photos of my career. It will take another month or so for Joey to have this completed. You can access all of the articles in Pitching For The Master as well as information on the special website by going to my regular website at: lindymcdaniel.com.

Ernie Banks -- Mr. Cub

They called Stan Musial “THE MAN ” in St. Louis, but in Chicago the man was Ernie Banks. He was called “Mr. Cub” because of his impact on the city as the short stop for the Chicago Cubs. I became acquainted with him early in my career. My first game for the Cardinals as a starting pitcher was against the Chicago Cubs in September, 1955. I held the Cubs scoreless through the first 4 innings, but in the top of the 5th they had loaded the bases with Ernie Banks stepping up to the plate. No one had bothered to tell me not to throw him a fast ball over the plate for a strike. So in my naiveté I threw him a fastball on the inside part of the plate which he immediately drilled for a home run into the left field bleachers. It was his 5th grand-slam of the year, which is still a record to this very day. So I got into the record books very early!

In 1956, I recall when the manager of the Cardinals, Fred Hutchinson, held a clubhouse meeting with the Cubs in town. Ernie Banks was red hot. Hutch, in his rough grizzly voice, said to the pitchers, “Whatever you do, don’t give Banks a chance to beat you, even if you have to walk him!” The final score of the game was 6 to 2 in favor of the Cubs. Banks had driven in all six runs! Every time he came to bat, there was a runner at first base, so the pitchers were forced to pitch to him. This is just one of a ton of stories about the great Ernie Banks. In Chicago, He was known as Mr. Optimism. He would often speak of the “friendly confines of Wrigley Field” or say with enthusiasm, “this is a great day for a double-header!” He was a much sought after speaker in Chi town and became involved in many community causes. He was a public relations dream.

Outside of that rookie mistake, I got Banks out fairly well. I especially remember one game in which I threw him 15 straight fastballs and got him to pop up three times. But the fastballs were thrown almost a foot inside off the plate. In 1960, my greatest year, my mom and dad were only able to see me pitch to one batter. That batter was Ernie Banks. I strike him out with the bases loaded on three pitches – a fastball, a curve ball, and a fork ball – all swinging misses. Those are things that you never forget. But I have a purpose in writing this article other than baseball. I am writing this not only about baseball, but especially about race relations.

In 1963, the year I joined the Chicago Cubs, Ernie and I were talking in the outfield during batting practice. He said to me, “Lindy, why don’t we room together?” He was referring to the road trips, as each person was responsible for his own housing arrangements in Chicago. I replied, “That would be fine with me.” Ernie said that he would arrange it with the front office. Well, the front office did not approve, and so we were never roommates. I was never told the reason, but I suppose at that time they did not allow blacks and whites to room together. I will always remember the good feelings and respect that Ernie and I had for each other, even as I had for other blacks like Billy Williams, Bill White, Curt Flood and Lou Brock.

My background in the Bible teaches me that God makes no distinction between black and white races. On the occasion of the first Gentiles converts, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35). In Christ’s church, all stand equal before God without economic, gender or race distinctions. The apostle Paul put it this way: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-28). The little book of Philemon, penned by Paul, contains a great thesis on race. It is in the Bible that that we read “He (God—LM) made from one man (some translations render the word blood—LM) every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” (Acts 17:26-27)

Some people actually use the Bible to try to justify racism, even though the above passages, as well as many others, teach otherwise. Some teach that because Ham, the son of Noah, was cursed (see Gen. 9:25), and since the descendants of Ham migrated to Africa, etc., therefore some have concluded that the black race is cursed to be slaves, etc. The curse actually fell upon Ham’s son Canaan (Gen. 9:26), and his descendants were the ones who migrated to the land that carried their name – Canaan. The generic term for the people of that land was Canaanites (See Gen. 24:3; 50:11). When the iniquity of the people in that land was full (see Gen. 15:16-21), God allowed the Israelites, descendants of Shem (see Gen. 9:26) to conquer the land thus fulfilling the curse. But there is not space here to get into all of the aspects of this matter. But to say that God has placed a curse upon an entire race of people today is totally without foundation. I may devote an entire article to racism in the future.

For many years professional baseball did not allow blacks to compete with white players. We all know that it was Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier. For many years it was hard for blacks in baseball to find decent housing in spring training and in major league cities. Most every large city had its black ghettos. Many of us at the time were unaware of many of the problems faced by black players and black people in general. The real answer lies in changing attitudes, equal treatment under law and equal opportunity. Communism or socialism, which has sought to capitalize on this issue, is not the answer. There certainly need to be equal protection under law for all men, but the real answer likes in changing the hearts of men and women. We must realize that all men are created in the image of God, and for that reason we must respect and highly regard the life and well-being of any person. Perhaps I will address this more in future articles.

God has blinders when it comes to race. The same moral and spiritual standards are expected from everyone regardless of race or background. Read Ezekiel Chapter Eighteen. After all, “God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”

---Lindy McDaniel

At beginning of article is a photo of Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and myself. You can contact me by E-mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com


(The above is a photo of myself taken in the spring of 2010. Yes, thank you, I could lose a little weight! I am holding on to an old traveling trunk, the same one I used when traveling by train in 1956 when I played for the St. Louis Cardinals. I am not sure why I am holding a bat, but pitchers always dream about being good hitters just as hitters dream about being good pitchers. This article was written in the spring of 2010, but is just now posted in Pitching For The Master.)

I dreamed about baseball last night, or was it early this morning? Maybe it is because this is springtime. Most of my dreams are about baseball and more like nightmares. I dreamed that I am still playing baseball, but continually find myself in a strange city, having trouble finding the ball park, and when I do find it, no one knows who I am or is able to direct me to the clubhouse. It was awful. I am sure that some psychiatrist can tell me what this means. That’s not much better than my dream about college days. In that dream I plum forgot about a class that I was supposed to be attending and it was the end of the semester! A lot of people have this particular nightmare. Well, my last dream was about bags. This dream started out pretty good. The players were getting off the bus at the hotel and finding their bags in the lobby where they were all neatly stacked. Then it dawned on me that I had forgot to pack my bags at the last hotel and I was instantly filled with panic. When we grow older, we panic so easy! Then I woke up! To make is worse, this is something that never happened to me in real life. Then I thought, today I will write an article about bags.

Those of you who travel know the importance of bags. In bags we put the most important items that we think that we cannot do without. It is surprising how quickly life can be reduced down to just a few essential things. An airline commercial advertisement makes a point by saying “Bags fly free!” Bags are given identity and deserve emotional attachment! Pretty clever. But my mind wanders to many days in the past.

When I first starting playing baseball, all the baseball clubs traveled by train, and some trips lasted two or three weeks. We were permitted to take large trunks, and yes, trunks traveled free. Later, when we traveled by plane, the bags were smaller, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Some of the veteran players (like Stan Musial) had wheels attached to their large trunks. Yes, that was way back when. By the way, it was hard for a train to lose a trunk and the food was excellent. On the train you had time to visit and enjoy life. It was a real experience. Some of the scenery was great. I think that even the young people today would enjoy going around “horseshoe bend” just before arriving at Pittsburgh. If you haven’t been to grand central station in New York City, you haven’t really lived. Enough of that already! Anyway, after arriving at the train station, I had to find my own trunk (which was located in the baggage car), carry it down the side of the train through the terminal and on to the street. From the street, I will hail a cab, load the trunk in the back of the cab, and ride to the Hotel. Then I would pay the cab driver, carry the heavy trunk up a long flight of steps into the lobby of the Hilton hotel. After securing the key to my room from our traveling secretary, I would be immediately besieged by bell hops who for a fee would gladly take the trunk to my room. Since the elevator was only a few feet away, this all seemed a bit unnecessary. I have been lugging this thing around all day! But not wanting to be rude or question the conventional wisdom, I allowed the young man to take the bag and rewarded him with a tip. I’m not sure just where this article is going, but I am sure that I just passed the “old as dirt” test.

Bags remind me of family--- traveling on vacation, visiting the folks on holidays, special trips, etc. In the summertime, many years ago, my wife and kids would pack up the car and join me for three months in a major league city (St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Kansas City). That car was packed to its fullest capacity. Thus, bags not only remind me of travel, but seeing friends and loved ones. Bags remind me of a lot of good times but also saying a lot of “good-bys.”

Bags remind me of history. They remind me of the first immigrants who came to America. Yes, those people came with trunks, bags and a lot of dreams for the future. Don’t you know they brought nothing but their most prized possessions. Yes, those ships contained a lot of valuable cargo. It would be neat to find one of those old trunks, recently discovered and unopened. I wonder what it would be worth at the antique show?

What about the pioneers of the old west? I love the history of the covered wagons journeying across the west containing both people and their most prized possessions. Don’t you know they sorted through a lot of things and took only the things they needed and could not do without? Yes, our history is told in bags. If only bags could talk.

Bags remind me of the transitory nature of life. There is a country song titled, “I’ve been everywhere man” and another song with the words, “We didn’t find it there so we moved on.” We need to understand that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. One spiritual song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”

Bags remind me of a lot of “hellos” and “good-bys”. We travel, visit people, and then we leave. I have done this hundreds of times. It is just the nature of life on earth. I suppose, if life is good, I will travel with bags a lot more in the future. Beginning the 20th of this month, Nancy and I plan to be on the road again making new friends and seeing new places from Texas to Florida and all states in between.

I do look forward to that glorious day when I will never again need to pack another bag . nor ever say “good bye” again. Someone has described life and all of human history as just one long journey for mankind. Those godly men who lived before Jesus Christ was born in the flesh were looking for a city whose builder and maker is God: “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:13-16). Peter referred to Christians as “aliens and strangers” as they make their journey on the earth (see I Peter 2:11). Thankfully for the Christian our hope extends beyond this physical life as the writer of Hebrews makes clear: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven” (Heb. 12:22-25). The significance of these words ought never to be minimized. It is speaking of home, the real home of the soul, where men and women will find peace and rest from all of their labors. It is a kingdom that cannot be shaken of which every person who comes to trust in Jesus Christ is a partaker: “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).

Well, folks, I always have to return to the main subject of these articles – the Lord Jesus Christ! And if you are going on a journey this summer, don’t forget to pack your bags.

P.S. Obviously I started writing this article last spring, when the old baseball heart goes to back to spring training and my many years in the game. The photo at the beginning of this article is one taken of myself on August 14, 2010 lifting the old trunk purchased in St. Louis in 1956. Nancy, my wife, only had to do eight retakes! Yes, I know I am not in pitching shape, so quit laughing.

Lindy McDaniel, May, 2011
E-Mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com


Competition is the stuff of life. Last month was “March Madness” where college basketball teams compete for being recognized as the best in the NCAA. As of this writing, only four clubs remain in competition. Sports of all kinds and at all levels thrive on competition. But beyond this, there is a sense in which competition involves all of life. In sickness and disease, people are battling or fighting whatever is attacking their body. There is the constant battle between good and evil, between the forces of righteousness and the forces of Satan or wickedness. No matter what you are talking about, it can and is expressed in some kind of competition.

Some say, “Forget it. I don’t want to compete!” Well, that is like saying, “I didn’t ask to be born.” No, you didn’t, but name me someone who did! We exist and are competing whether we want to or not. As soon as we start breathing, we are competing against something.

One of the best illustrations of competition comes from the world of Sports. The apostle Paul expressed this well when he wrote: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Although Paul is using illustrations from the Greek/Roman games, he is actually speaking of a much greater competition – a spiritual competition.

Satan Is Winning The Battle

Whether we recognize this or not we are in a battle against Satan. And may I point out that Satan is winning this battle. John wrote: “19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19). All of us at one time or another have been brought under the power and control of Satan. As Paul expresses it: “6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:6-10). Notice that the words “ungodly”, “sinner” and “enemy” are used to describe those Jesus died for. Other passages confirm these same truths such as Paul’s writings in Eph. 2:1-3 and Titus 3:3-7. These passages teach that before we came to know Christ through the gospel, we were enslaved by various lusts, self-centered and acted in terms of our own self interest rather than in regard to God and others. This is the biblical view of Christians before being freed from the great tyrant Satan. These facts are confirmed by both experience and the statements of the Bible. Yes, I know, these simple truths are rejected by many as we want to see ourselves in a far better light.

True Freedom Is Found Only In Christ

The good news is that Christ is the great liberator. Christ has overcome Satan in the following ways: (1) He was born of a virgin becoming God in the flesh [Matt. 1:21-23; Gal. 4:4]; (2) He lived in the flesh without sin [John 8:46; Heb. 4:15]; (3) He was rejected by men by being unjustly put to death on the cruel cross [John 1:11; Acts 2:23; Phil. 2:8]; (4) He became the perfect sacrifice as an atonement for the sins of the world [1 John 2:2]; (5) He was raised from the dead thus overcoming the power of death [Acts 2:32-33; 3:15]; (6) He allowed many to be eye-witnesses of His resurrection [Acts 1:3; 10:40-42]; (7) He ascended into heaven itself to the right hand of the Father [Eph. 1:19-21]; (8) He made the full atonement for sin [Heb. 9:11-13; 10:14]; and He lives forever more. These are a few of the basic facts about Jesus Christ. These facts are all incorporated into what is called the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our part is to accept the great mercy of God by faith. By believing or trusting in Jesus Christ [John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 1:16-17], we are acknowledging our sins [Luke 13:1; 24:47; Acts 2:38] and accepting Him as our Savior [Acts 2:21; 4:12]; Lord [Matt. 7:21; Luke 6:46]; and Messiah , denying self, taking up our cross and become obedient to him in all things [see Luke 14:27, 33]. See number of times “Lord Jesus Christ” is used [Acts 2:36; 10:36; 11:17, etc. for a total of over 90 times]. I mention this only because some believe that they can be saved apart from obeying Jesus as Lord. Upon being baptized into His name, we are promised the forgiveness of sins and have dedicated ourselves to live in harmony with His will [Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-5]. In these two paragraphs I have put a lot of things into a few words, so please check the references for proof and a better understanding.

Satan’s Weapons vs God’s Weapons

Satan uses whatever methods he can to keep the people of the world in bondage. He is an effective adversary. The apostle John expresses this quite clearly in this way: “ 15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17).
Many famous athletes, who are experiencing the fame and honor of the world, laugh at the idea of self-denial and following the way of Christ. However, the harsh experiences of life teach that the freedom promised by Satan can only result in bondage and cannot produce genuine happiness, as many have already discovered.

But the weapons of Jesus Christ are far from useless. He uses truth, extends mercy, and is especially mindful of the weak and faint-hearted, those souls who have been beaten down by the Devil. See how Isaiah describes the mission of Jesus Christ—Luke 4:17-21. Also Peter describes why people are attracted to Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 3:21-25. Jesus uses different weapons, but do not think that these weapons are without power. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:1-5: “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ-- I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! 2 I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, . .”

Yes, we are in competition in all sorts of ways, but there is one battle that we cannot afford to lose, and that is the battle for our souls. To lose this battle is to lose everything that is good and precious. To win this battle defines the goal of all goals and all future happiness and security. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if folks were as interested in this spiritual struggle as they are in sports competition?!!

Lindy McDaniel, April 1, 2011
E-Mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com

Over The Top

We can make an idol out of anything. I have known players who have built their whole life around baseball. I had 15 “Hall of Fame” teammates over the course of my career. For some, to make the “Hall of Fame” was their ultimate goal and the guarantee of immortality. I am sure that the same is true of football, basketball, and other sports. To wear the “Championship Ring” is what life’s all about. Does it pay off? Yes, it brings handsome rewards in money and fame. At the same time, becoming obsessed with this destroys lives and distorts reality. In this article I want to examine some things that seem “over the top” in terms of reality, values and priorities.

We live in an age of exaggeration where advertising is “over the top” and everything is made to seem “bigger than life.” This applies to sports events, selling cars or almost any product you can name. Every product has to be the biggest, fastest, newest, more improved, amazing, awesome, astonishing and on and on it goes. I would like to see just one car commercial, I’m sure there must be one, that has a bit of realism connected with it. Cars fly, disappear, transform themselves, cause lightning, create tornados and just plain do all kinds of supernatural things. We are amused by babies who give financial advise, animals, birds and reptiles that talk. In this, we can surely separate fiction from reality, but my point is that advertizing often has very little to do with reality. It is designed to grab your attention, but I think I have become totally immune to all of the advertizing gimmicks. I just want to know what the product does without all the hype.
Sports Hype

I was reminded of this while watching some of the build up to the “Super Bowl” football game. I admit that I do enjoy watching football, although I personally think it is a rather brutal game, but I could do without all the hype. I have gotten to the point where I cannot listen to the average sports talk program. I appreciate the “talking heads” knowledge of the game, but they go overboard in their comments. You would think that nothing exists in the whole world as important as sports. It is definitely a money industry that is happy to accommodate millions of hungry fans. Now the football owners and players are going at one another, through the collective bargaining process, because they cannot figure out how to divide up the billions of dollars of revenue coming into the game. Some have reported that the owners are prepared to shut down football for as long as two years because they have guaranteed T.V. contracts whether they play games or not. I wonder how “Fox” feels about that? Now my head is really spinning as I try to digest all of this. Let me get this straight. Both the players and the owners rely on the fans for support, but if there is no professional football for two years, it will be alright for the fans will support the game no matter what and pack the stadiums. Really??!! Are we not talking about a form of idolatry here? Will the fans really flock to the ball parks to support players who make millions of dollars no matter what? But no one is forcing people to attend, buy the products or act in crazy ways. People do this voluntarily. It is a culture problem.

When I see fans all dressed up (or painted up) with all kinds of ridiculous outfits and yelling and screaming at every opportunity (especially if they know the camera is on them), acting like crazy fools, it does make me wonder. And have you noticed that the human body is no longer awesome unless it is covered with tattoos or fresh paint? Some can no longer feel special unless they sport a weird haircut. Natural colors are definitely out with some – it needs to be purple, orange, green or blue. And isn’t it strange that many sports activities are advertised by beer companies showing young people drinking and engaging in lewd behavior? Are we having fun yet??!! Have you noticed the dress and gyrations of the cheer leaders? Not much is left to the imagination. Oh, I can hear my critics now, “Lindy, you are so out of it!”. And somehow we condemn old time movies where the actors and actresses smoked, but what is going on now is far worse.

As a player I enjoyed the competition and playing the game, but do modern players have to celebrate after every play? I suppose this is all part of the culture in which we live. Is it my imagination, but are not sports becoming more intense and brutal every passing year? Is there no longer room for saneness, kindness and brotherly love? Does decent behavior end when we enter into the public arena? Where does it all lead? Winning is important, but have we not become obsessed with winning? Don’t tell me there is not a double standard when it comes to our successful athletes and coaches. I see coaches yelling, screaming and cursing. What level of collateral damage is acceptable? Sports can become a “high” as much as any drug. Sometimes I want to say, “Get a grip and get a life”. This is not a blanket condemnation, but you surely get the point. We need to bring sanity back to sports.

It’s not that I’m opposed to sports. Sports have their place in society. But it is this obsession that I’m concerned about. And I will tell you this, one does not have to curse and chew tobacco to be a real player. We need more good coaches who use sports to teach real values about life rather than showing how big a jerk they can become. I am not impressed with either coaches or players who believe that winning gives them the right to engage in anti-God and anti-social conduct, not that they would pay attention to anything that I might say. But it is refreshing every now and then to learn that some conduct of some super stars is even over the top with the fans, and these players have lost favor and social standing.

Where Are Our Piorities?

There are multitudes of fans who can tell you all the stats about their favorite players or teams, but cannot answer the most simple questions about the Bible. The Bible will get you to heaven and teach you how to find genuine happiness on earth, but sports only provide a bit of entertainment. The jails are full of people who have never heard of Adam and Eve or have a clue about Jesus Christ, yet they can name their favorite rock stars or athletes. The artificial world of “virtual reality”, electronics, text messaging, face book, cell phones, etc. have become the new reality. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for advancements in communication, but all of these advancements can have a ugly side if they become our masters. What have we become, as a people, when we lose sight of the things that are truly significant – God, family, friends and country?

To be honest, very few things are really awesome or fantastic. By abusing the English language it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is artificial, what is important and what is trivial. I wonder sometimes if it is not because people are so bored with ordinary life that everything has to be exaggerated. We tend to fill our lives with so much fluff and non-sense that we fail to see and understand things that are truly important and meaningful.

Some Things Are Awesome

This is not to say that some things are not awesome. I agree with David in Psalms 139:14: “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” I think that God’s creation is absolutely awesome. I have witnessed beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There is something very special about genuine friendships, and marriage as designed by God is a beautiful and wonderful thing. I am impressed by unselfish acts of kindness. I am impressed by those who are willing to tell the truth even to their own hurt. I am impressed by the dedication and sacrifice of parents who have children with major defects, mental or physical, and show us the meaning of genuine love. There are many examples of this all around. I am 75 years old, and I experience some awesome things every day. I know, without exaggeration, that Christ can do some fantastic things in our lives. Paul wrote in Eph. 3:16-21: “ 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” This language is not over the top.

Someone sent me an E-mail the other day showing the ability of super computers to collect masses of data that is truly overwhelming and impossible to conceive. It makes us feel so insignificant and meaningless. Who am I in such a vast world? Yet there is one Bible passage that brings us back to reality, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30). What an awesome God who will never lose track of us and knows all that we face. In this rather cold and impersonal world, it is good to know that we have a personal God!

I could do without all the hype about worldly things that promise much but deliver little and produce a world of delusion. If you need all this hype to find meaning in life, then what is the next level? What is the next level of sensationalism, blood and gore, weirdness, debauchery, etc.? I used to enjoy a good detective movie, but now they have to add all those terrible graphics, blood and gore, or people just won’t watch I suppose. I love good music and even enjoy “American Idol” although the title tells me more than I want to know. Even so, vulgar words are said by the judges (bleeped out of course), but everyone laughs about the well advertised bleep. I don’t know where we are headed, but it ain’t good. Call me “old fashioned” if you please!

Reminds me of Peter’s statement in 2 Pet. 2:17-19 about the peddlers of sensationalism of his day: “17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” That’s a great insight. Promising freedom but reducing men into slaves of corruption.

--- Lindy McDaniel, March 1, 2011
E-mail address: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com
Home address: 1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166.

Notice: New articles are posted in the Pitching For The Master blog the first of each month. Blog address is: http://pitchingforthemaster.blogspot.com/

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