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: 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: 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.

Find It