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 Smart, run-scoring strategy has been replaced by brutish free-swinging for the cheap seats, say baseball’s purists.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...

Upcoming Events at Maple Mount

OWENSBORO, Ky. (4/19/15) — The following are the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph upcoming events at Maple Mount.… Read More

Madisonville Lions ‘Flip’ to Raise Funds for Community

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (4/17/15) — The Madisonville Lions Club held its annual spring Pancake Day Friday, April 17 at the… Read More
1 DOW 17,826.30
-279.47 (-1.54%)    
2 S&P 2,081.18
-23.81 (-1.13%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,931.81
-75.98 (-1.52%)    

Most Read This Week

April 17, 2015 6675

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 13, 2015 6230

Three Juveniles, Adult Accused of Vandalizing…

by Deputy Will Coursey
April 14, 2015 5131

Several Juveniles Charged in Connection with Fight

by SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 4554

Man Charged with Attempting to Coerce Minor for…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 16, 2015 3417

Crime Stoppers Fugitive of the Week – April 16,…

by Hopkinsville – Christian County Crime Stoppers

Most Read This Month

April 02, 2015 8489

UPDATE: Madisonville Man Injured in Head-on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
March 27, 2015 6711

Three Arrested during Execution of Search…

by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center

Stories Trending Now

April 17, 2015 6675

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 18, 2015 4554

Man Charged with Attempting to Coerce Minor for…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 19, 2015 1379

ATV Ride, Cookout Raises Funds for Shanice Bean…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 1083

MPD Offers Advice On Prom, Underage Drinking

by Lt. Billy Poe
April 18, 2015 864

Market Commentary - April 18, 2015

by Randall L. Franklin
April 18, 2015 588

Home, Garden Show Concludes Today at Ballard…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 537

Happenings and Meetings - Hopkins County

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 534

Keeping the Faith - 'God Smiles'

by Ronnie McBrayer
April 18, 2015 500

TVA's Regional Energy Resource Council to Meet in…

by Tennessee Valley Authority
April 18, 2015 490

Hooked on Science - Skewer a Balloon

by Jason Lindsey