ronniemcbrayer300 green2KENTUCKY (2/22/14) – “Pitchers and Catchers report!” It’s as sure a sign of the coming spring as erupting dandelions and fledgling fruit blooms.

And as inhumane as this winter has been – as brutal as it remains in many locales – spring could not get here quickly enough, groundhog shadows and eminent March snowstorms be damned.

Yes, the return of baseball is a bellwether of warmer days, even if baseball itself should expect a somewhat chilly reception these days. Critics say the games are too long and frankly, painfully tedious. Smart, run-scoring strategy has been replaced by brutish free-swinging for the cheap seats, say baseball’s purists. And don’t even get tongues wagging about a certain Yankee third baseman.

For my own part, I’ve had a suspicion about the game for some time now. After the baseball players strike of the mid 1990s I fell off the wagon. The more recent scandals involving performance enhancing drugs and the obscene amounts of money paid to mere mortals for throwing and striking a rawhide ball have done nothing to reclaim my confidence.

And have you taken your kids to a game lately?

To park, $30. For tickets, $75, $60 for sodas and snacks. And forget the souvenirs. I can’t swing that kind of cash.

What makes all of this so difficult to take is the fact that some of my fondest memories center on professional baseball.

I’m not old, but old enough to remember sitting in the now demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium trying to snag foul balls off the bats of Brett Butler, Dale Murphy and Bob Horner – all for a few turnstile dollars. But I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been back to a stadium since.

Some of my fondest memories were also made at church; in the little “church in the wildwood” of my formative years.

The pew bottoms were made of old wooden slats that creaked and groaned during the service, pinching this little boy’s behind and picking holes in my mother’s pantyhose.

The church’s water fountain was a natural spring found down a path behind the sanctuary, and a trip to the toilet was a similar trek.

On hot August nights I can recall the fiery summer revivals in that old house of worship – fiery in preaching and temperature – as I struggled to understand all that was going on (between explorations for spearmint gum in my grandmother’s purse, of course).

Was this church “better” than what I have experienced as an adult? Probably not.

Was it simpler, more sincere? Probably so.

Major League Baseball and much of the church in America have arrived at the same place.

Both are more driven by market and commercial forces than by a true sense of what they are. They have largely been taken captive by the consumer, by self-indulgence, and vanity. We are all the worse for it.

My children used to thrill me on the baseball diamond every spring, even when they were picking flowers in the outfield or putting their mitts on the wrong hand. There was an enjoyment, a purity in their play, that while unprofessional, was much more real than anything happening at the ball parks of big business. This is my same longing for the church. For I still love it and pray that it become truer to its roots and more authentic.

Terence Mann, James Earl Jones’ character in “Field of Dreams,” may have captured the sentiment best.

Standing in that enchanted cornfield turned baseball diamond, he says, “They'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. They'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. This field, this game: it's a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good; and it could be again.”

May it be so.

Ronnie McBrayer
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Summer Evening Shows, Star Parties at Golden Pond Planetarium, Observatory

KENTUCKY (5/3/15) — Summer Evening Planetarium Shows begin May 30 with Firefall at Golden Pond Planetarium followed by… Read More

Storm Falls to Caldwell, Drops Third Straight Game

MORTONS GAP, Ky. (5/3/15) ― Host Hopkins County Central owned a 5-1 lead through the third inning but couldn't hold off… Read More
1 DOW 18,024.06
+183.54 (1.03%)    
2 S&P 2,108.29
+22.78 (1.09%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,005.39
+63.97 (1.29%)    

Most Read This Week

April 28, 2015 4098

Search for Stolen Vehicle Ends with Woman Charged…

by SurfKY News
April 27, 2015 3438

Online Petition Seeking Re­opening of Shanice…

by Samantha Carver, SurfKY News
April 28, 2015 3300

Man Charged with Stalking Smoke Shop Clerk

by MPD
April 27, 2015 2855

Hopkins County Drug War ― Are We Winning?

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
April 30, 2015 2742

Family Says 'Goodbye' to Dog After It Allegedly…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

April 17, 2015 15390

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 23, 2015 8437

Man Charged with Sodomy, Incest/Victim under 12

by SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

May 03, 2015 1092

Two Injured During Two-Vehicle Collision

by SurfKY News
May 02, 2015 584

Baptist Health Hosts Annual ‘Bike Safety Day’

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
May 03, 2015 564

Faith Baptist Hosts Family Fun Day

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 03, 2015 518

Dave Says - May 3, 2015

by Dave Ramsey
May 02, 2015 459

Conquering the clutter: Cleanliness with kids is…

by SurfKY News
May 03, 2015 372

Legislator's Log - Week of May 3, 2015

by Brent Yonts
May 03, 2015 327

2015 Correctional Employees' Week Celebrated…

by Michael Caudill
May 03, 2015 319

Outdoor Truths – May 3, 2015

by Gary Miller
May 03, 2015 294

Keeping the Faith - 'You Are Stuck With You'

by Ronnie McBrayer
May 03, 2015 199

State Registered Nurse Aide Pinning Ceremony at…

by HCS Publication Team