Love and baseball
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
In 1961, Roger Marris hit 61 home runs to break Babe Ruth’s American League home run record of 60 set in 1927. Also in 1961, Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs. Both were New York Yankees. Except for a brief time at the beginning of the season, Marris batted third and Mantle fourth.
This year, Yankee Aaron Judge is challenging that record, having tied Babe Ruth at 60, with eight games remaining in the season.
Interestingly, and what is so amazing about Judge’s accomplishment, is that there is no player like Mickey Mantle batting behind him. Marris, who was no doubt a great hitter, was better because of the threat Mantle presented behind him in the lineup. Case in point, Roger Marris was not intentionally walked once in 1961. Pitchers knew that if they put him on base, they would have to face Mickey Mantle with a runner on. As of the beginning of this month, Aaron Judge had been intentionally walked 14 times.
Baseball is both an individual and a team sport. For a team to be successful, individuals must successfully perform their own specific tasks. No one can help the third baseman field a hard shot up the line and make a timely and accurate throw to first. Baseball is also a game in which individual failure is more common than success. Even the best hitters fail to hit seven out of every ten times they come to the plate.
Baseball is also a game in which opportunities for individual success are improved by the presence of other players. So, in the case of the home run race of 1961, Marris saw more opportunities for success because of the presence of Mickey Mantle. He was, in effect, a better hitter because of the threat of Mantle hitting behind him.
It is the exceedingly rare player having a great year who can do what Aaron Judge is doing. In our personal and professional experience, it is more often the case that our success depends on the skills and talents of those around us. Likewise, in the community of faith, the gifts we have received are meant to compliment the gifts others have received to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
So, enjoy Aaron Judge’s success, but don’t be afraid to surround yourself with heavy hitters who will improve your own performance. Doing so will benefit you and those around you as each part working properly promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.