Theology from Baseball

There’s something special about growing up in a small town.  The one I grew up in was little more than a four-way stop on an old secondary highway in rural NC.  Mama taught at the high school and Daddy pastored one of the four churches settled within our town limits.

By far, my favorite part of small town life was that athletic events were the hub of social activity.  During the school year, the entire community turned out for every game.  Our high school had an award-winning baseball team.  The kids from our neighborhood would walk to the games, chase the foul balls, and secretly hope that one would get by us and break a windshield.  (That’s big excitement in a small town!)

I always wanted to play, but our local Dixie Youth coach wouldn’t allow girls on the team.  I don’t suppose it would’ve mattered, ‘cause I was scared to death of the ball.  And I don’t guess it helped me when I got hit in the head by a pop fly in our neighborhood one Sunday afternoon.  Eventually, my Dad taught me how to keep statistics so that I could keep the stats for the teams.  By high school, I was keeping the stats for the boys’ baseball team and the girls’ softball team. 

A few of my greatest philosophical and theological lessons in life were learned from baseball…

I was probably about 9 years old and was at one of the boys’ games at the high school.  One of my brother’s best friends was playing center field when a ball got popped high and far.  Tony watched the ball, judging where it would come down, and focused on getting himself under it.  He ran back, back, back, with his arm stretched as high and far as he could reach.  But it wasn’t enough—it was over the fence—a home run.  Tony had been watching the ball, not the fence.  He turned just in time to see the fence, but not enough to stop himself.  The metal caught his eyelid and ripped it.  The blood could be seen from home plate.  Coaches rushed the field and before long, Tony was on his way to the ER.  By the time the last inning started, Tony was back, face bandaged, and begging the coach to put him back in!

When I was about 15, we had a girl on our team named Kelly.  But we called her “Pigpen.”  It didn’t matter where the ball was on the field, if she was running bases, she was going to slide.  We were playing a tournament one weekend and she slid feet-first into third.  When her foot hit the bag, it popped up off of its metal base and her leg slid under the bag.  The metal base ripped her pant leg all the way up to mid-thigh.  And it did a pretty good job on her knee.  No joy in Mudville—she’d been tagged with the ball and she was out.  She hopped back to the dugout and landed next to me on the bench.  When I saw her knee, I hollered for first aid and used my white shirt (!) to put pressure on her gash until the kit arrived.  Coach threw a batting helmet against the fence and yelled at Kelly for ripping her pants.  But the very next game, Kelly was sliding into bases again.

There’s a lot to be said for passion and determination.  That’s what I’ve learned from baseball.  I learned that when you’re focused on the goal, your priority has to be making the goal happen—even if it requires a sacrifice.  It doesn’t matter how pretty you look.  It doesn’t matter if your uniform is clean.  And sometimes, you’ve got to get some clay under your fingernails. 

About Sarah Salter


  1. You always make me smile. I love the visual of you hollering for first aid and holding your shirt on her gaping wound to staunch the bleeding! LOL.

    Things don’t always look pretty on the outide and sometimes you get wounded when you are doing things you are passionate about. But you can’t let it keep you from getting right back to it. Romans 5:3-4…Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope…

    Love you!

  2. Now that I can identify with… I did some of those things myself, even played pitcher and hit the dust many times from a “ball coming straight at the pitchers mound”… but … the only thing I always made sure was in place was my hair.. the rest didn’t matter. lol… oh did you sew up the gash yourself. lol….All of this is like falling or getting thrown off the horse, you gotta get back up on it again.. No matter what.. and besides we can usually make the devil a little madder that way, which works for me..

    Love ya,

  3. Ah, baseball. God’s game for sure.

    Most everything I learned about life came on a baseball field. Love and hate, fear and courage, success and failure. You name it. Once upon a time it was my entire life. Now it only takes the majority of my time from April to October. Your coach pitched a fit when Pigpen ripped her pants. My dad would’ve done the same if I didn’t.

    Thanks for bringing back such good memories…

  4. Well…. I was there that game… and vividly remember that incident (now that you reminded me). A little more “Theology” from that incident could also be taken from the fact that Tony’s Dad; Ray, not only had taken off of work early to be at the game (He RARELY ever missed one of our games) but also the fact that had it not been the last inning.. Coach probably would have found a way to put Tony back in the game if the rules had allowed. Sometimes determination can be suplimented by utilizing the gifts that you have been given to their fullest extent…..Great Blog lil sis!

  5. 🙂 Very good…I use to love going to my brother’s baseball games too, I never played when I was young but now I wish I would have. Hey, didn’t know u were a Duke fan…hmm, GO HEELS! I might start sending you my papers to proof read since you are an English major. 😉

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Oh, not you too, Anna! Jon is in grad school now and really believes that he has a paper-proofing fairy for a secretary! 🙂

  7. Eliza Garrison says:

    Congratualtions! I’m excited to see things just going forth for you. I saw the movie, “The Last Sin Eater”. You have such a way of describing things. It is as if you were there. Continue the good work.

    Love, Eliza

  8. Eliza Garrison says:

    Sarah it’s me again, I wanted to tell you that the lesson I got from your ‘baseball’ story, it has stirred up my pure mind, which had been marred, through a bad/hard childhood. But thanks be to My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who continues always to shine the light in every situation, good or bad!! Amen!! Eliza

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