Repost: Theology from Baseball

My Dad and I spent Sunday afternoon driving back and forth to Hallsboro, the little town where I grew up. While we were living there, my family got very involved with all of the athletics at the high school where my Mom worked. And one of the fields at the high school was also the Dixie Youth Baseball field where my brother played baseball. The Dixie Youth Baseball coach (who was also a teacher and coach at the high school) was a very tall man named Mike Mobley. Coach Mobley stopped teaching in 1995 to become the middle school principal. Today, we attended his surprise retirement party. He’s retiring from education at least partly so that he can devote more time to coaching again. In honor of Coach Mobley’s retirement, I decided to repost one of my favorites from early last Spring…

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. i liked the games in my little home town too.
    good post.

  2. First off I love baseball. And there are so many life lessons that could be applied to it.

    I love the analagy that you made about getting dirty. Sometimes we have to stand firm and get dirty.

    Good stuff kiddo.

  3. I’m just so in love with baseball, and all that it offers. People call it a game, and it is. But more than that …. it’s big, juicy life lessons.

    Good post!!

  4. Glad I didn’t read this earlier this morning, I’m cringing at the bloody stories (sad, I know). It’s true though, gotta have passion and determination. Did make me laugh though that the coach got so mad because her pants were ripped. Nice!

  5. I never got into Baseball since I was introduced to it so late in life, but I can definitely relate to the point of the post.

    My prayer is that pleasing God be the goal of my life and that no price be too high in my pursuit of it.

  6. Oh… I love baseball. 🙂

    Except this story. A girl got too close to someone swinging the bat and knocked her unconscious. My buddy was there and did CPR till the ambulance arrived. She’s still not all okay. It’s sad.

  7. Baseball pretty much made me who I am today. Which I suppose is either good or bad depending on how you look at it. You learned something very valuable that day. Besides, it ain’t playin’ unless you get dirty.

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