Come with me on a spiritual Journey!

Hoosiers Team Dream

“Five pistons working together as one” That is how the fictitious coach Norman Dale described what he was after in the movie Hoosiers. When Dale took over the little high schools basketball team he walked in to a practice where his team was being coached voluntarily by a town volunteer. “Shoot the ball”, the volunteer bellowed as the players passed it around on the perimeter. “You can’t score if you don’t shoot”. That was all Coach Dale needed to see. He quickly sent the volunteer on his way in spite of his grumbling and threatening words as he left. That one observation of the volunteers philosophy showed Dale that this was a man who put the cart ahead of the horse. He said in the movie that “there is more to the game than shooting”. He saw the importance in a team effort in all fazes of the game. That is what he meant by “five pistons working together!”

Retro Indy: 'Hoosiers' inspired by Milan state title team

As Dale was addressing the team for the first time two of the would be players were laughing and talking to each other and paying no attention. Dale called them out on it. He knew he needed complete unity and desire to make this team work. When he demanded unity or they could walk away the two decided to walk away and left their would be teammates behind. Coach Dale did not seem the least bit bothered by their defection. He knew from his experience that this was the weeding out process. If a player was not totally committed to the team and the concept of team work not only on the court but in practice and listening to instructions they were not of any good to the team effort. After a few days during a practice one of the defecting boys fathers brought his son to the coach. “My son has something he wants to say to you coach”. His son asked the coach if he could get back on the team. He told the coach that he was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again. It didn’t take the coach long to consider the request. He saw the remorse the kid was going through and the humility it took to ask for a second chance. “OK” he said, get dressed. The door was not closed to Dale’s team. All that was needed was the right attitude and desire to work together.

In the first game of the season the little school named Hickory for the tiny town where it was located had one player who ignored the coaches plan. Instead of passing the ball around for a good shot he took it upon himself to ignore the team game. He fired up ill advised shots and even though he made a couple of them he found himself on the bench. The kid that went into the game was far less talented but it was a teaching moment for the coach. The player knew why he was on the bench but the fans had given him a loud round of applause as he left the floor. Suddenly a deciding moment in Dale’s coaching took place. One of the five players on the floor had just folded out. The benched player and the only possible substitute jumped up and hurried to the scorers table. Coach Dale looked at him and commanded him to “Sit Down”. When the referee told Dale they needed a fifth player Dale said “My team is on the floor.” After the game Dale commended the four players that were left in the game til the end. Then he made his point loud and clear. “As far as this team what I say goes”, he stated. “If you can’t live with that you need to take some time and decide if you want to be on this team.”

Teamwork, navy sailors with ropes on desk of aircraft carrier free image

Recently I let my friend Kevin borrow my Hoosiers movie. Kevin didn’t grow up loving sports like I did. Still I thought he would enjoy the movie and he did. He could totally relate to the team effort because he had lived it in his time in the Navy. In the Navy team discipline is the main thing they teach. It is vital that everyone works together and they are taught to cross-train on many of the jobs required. Kevin likes to bring up the fire fighting job on the ships. Everyone needs training in this area because as he so aptly puts it “What are you going to do out there at sea? Call the fire department?” The Navy put your skills together with a job that would fit your strengths. He mentioned that they had a little short guy in their group. Kevin refers to him as Radar who was the character in Mash. “He was put in charge of the post office, Kevin remembered. Kevin saw the total surrender to discipline and leadership that the Hoosiers movie portrayed. It was just like the Navy in that if you were told what to do you better do it in high time! If you didn’t consequences would come That is how the Navy worked. There was no bending or breaking of the rules and no looking away if someone disobeyed. There was a long term goal in mind. It wasn’t just a call for discipline for no cause, it was a call for discipline with a great cause. The cause was far greater than each individuals desire. It made them do what they may not have wanted to do for the good of the team. When I asked Kevin about the about face of the enlistees to the team goal Kevin said it was startling. It was amazing to see the beginnings of each of the individuals in boot camp and the transformation they experienced in both attitude and desire. When they were at the end of their transformation they would have been willing to risk their lives for the safety of their teammates. It was an astounding reconstructed attitude that affected him even to this day over 40 years later

Besides the kid who walked away from the team there was another e4xample of redemption that the coach demonstrated. One of his players father was an expert on basketball. Besides being a fine player in his youth he was also a student of the game that he called the greatest game ever invented. Coach Dale was impressed with his basketball knowledge but he also knew about his major flaw. The man nicknamed “Shooter” was the town drunk. Coach Dale’s assistant coach who was also the principal of the school suffered a heart attack. Dale decided to make “Shooter” his assistant coach. On his walk up to Shooters house he found himself getting shot at. Apparently the nickname Shooter was given for more than his old reputation on the basketball court. Nevertheless he identified himself and Shooters gun quickly stopped. He offered the job to Shooter under the condition that he quit drinking. Shooter sent him on his way apparently convinced that his addiction was too great to be conquered. However to his credit Shooter quit drinking and made his way to the bench during a game. Coach Dale told the team that Shooter would be helping him out. Shooter was not feeling that good and offered no help that first game. In a later game Coach Dale got thrown out of a game on purpose leaving the team with Shooter. It seemed a lost cause until with the game really close Shooter called the winning play! For a moment the towns people looked at Shooter the way the coach did. He was a useful citizen that had a problem like we all do.

Out of Ink: After the Credits -- Hoosiers
Big Screen Dream Team: the 10 best ballers in film history -

When the team was losing the little town tried to vote the coach out of his position. He had made changes and did things that were against their way of thinking. The star player from last years team Jimmy Chitwood had sat out. He was very close to the former coach and wasn’t sure he wanted to play for Coach Dale. When Coach Dale told Jimmy that he didn’t care if he played on the team or not it made an impression. Everyone in the town apparently always told Jimmy how great he was and now this new coach was indifferent. Jimmy saw that Coach Dale’s only focus was on the team and not individual players, unless they were willing to work for the team goal. When the towns people voted to get rid of Coach Dale Jimmy took the podium. In a short speech he said he thought it was about time he played ball again under one condition. If Coach goes I go, If Coach stays I stay. After keeping the coach the team went on a winning streak. They won many close games and won their way to the finals against a school with probably 2,000 students. Little Hickory had a school of 161 students . As you would expect from watching the movie the end was predictable. Jimmy hit the winning shot and the Giant was slain just like the Bible verses and prayer the team heard before the game mentioning David slaying Goliath.

Bobby Plump shows his excitement as he admires a commissioned painting by Anthony Padgett during Plump's 80th birthday party on Sept. 11, 2016.
Bobby Plump

Incredibly this story was based on a real life team from the 1954 Milan High School in Indiana. Although Hollywood enhanced the story, MIlan was a little school that went on to win the state title. They had an outstanding player named Bobby Plump who the character of Jimmy was based on. The story is a reminder of many Bible stories where a small group faced a giant enemy. The small group continued to win because God was with them. Of course there was David and Goliath, but another story comes to mind about the 12 spies. While 10 of them looked at their opposition and stated that they were like grasshoppers next to them 2 of the spies believed God that in spite of the giants the land was theirs to take. That is my message to you today and through this story. “No matter how big and powerful the enemy is God is on your side.” It is stated that “if God is for us who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. Don’t ever give up or back down. God is on your side! Keep up the good fight and always lean on God for the wisdom you need!

We see so many examples of a team in our every day lives. The family is a team, the company we work for is a team, our friends make up a team, and so on. It is imperative that we all work as one. There needs to be a common goal and a common purpose. Our faith is individual but we work as a team. Each Hickory basketball player had certain skills that they contributed to the team and each member of God’s team has certain skills as well.

There is one more thought to the whole Hoosiers philosophy. We are not alone in this world. First of all God is with us and he sent us his Holy Spirit for all wisdom. Then there are millions of fellow Christians that are walking the same path that we are. Work as a team and learn from your fellow teammates. Display that unity of the five pistons working together. God wants us to be a mighty team in his name and he has a promise that is found in James !:12….

12 Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.

#1 Not An Orphan

June 7, 2020

The number 1 story of the year is “Not An Orphan”! This story is a reminder as we enter
a new year that we are not entering it alone. We have a Father in Heaven who loves us more than
we will ever know and wants only the best for us! Click the link below to read the story!

So cute. ~ETS #delicatethings | Animais bebês mais fofos, Animais ...

#2 Staying In The Game

Staying in the Game February 23, 2020

Another piece of advice for living in 2021 is to live in the present. Don’t dwell on the past
and don’t worry about the future. Quit trying to bring back the good ole days. Remembering
this story will keep us on the road to living today!

#3 Discipline And The Egg McMuffin

Discipline and the Egg McMuffin May 23, 2020

This story is about figuring out what you want to do and staying disciplined enough to see the plan through.
As we enter this new year keep this story in mind as you attempt to stay on course!

Coloring My World

I bought a CD earlier this year and I have been playing it in my car lately. It is the same music I had years ago but then it was a cassette. It is Chicago’s Greatest Hits and of course listening to it brings back memories and none more than a song called “Colour My World.” I remember the old Coloring books we would color in as kids. Funny that the one thing in life that hasn’t changed much through the years is the coloring book. Of course you know the outlines of pictures that were just plain in sight. However, you could color each item in different colors and bring life to the book. I also remember the Crayola Crayon boxes that were part of our supplies for the new school year. We were told what we needed for elementary school and crayons were on the list. The list didn’t specify how many and I was always envious of some of my classmates who had a full set of 64 crayons in their bigger box while I had 16 or 24 crayons in my smaller box. I might have had one or two crayons of blue while they had four or five. They seemed to have all of the colors in the rainbow and then some.

Walt Disney Best Of Disney Coloring Book New Old Stock

I remember in the early 1960’s when I was 5 or 6 years old that we didn’t have a color TV. Color TV was kind of a new thing back then and most of the shows were still in black and white. However, there were a couple of shows on Sunday nights that were in color and they were back to back. We used to go over to my aunts house and watch those shows on her color set quite often. They were “Walt Disney Presents”, and “Bonanza”. For a kid that age watching a whole episode of Bonanza is kind of boring. They were grown up plots with shootings and stuff I didn’t and couldn’t understand. However, watching Disney was more entertaining at the time. I especially liked when TinkerBell flew around with her magic wand making beautiful colors at the beginning of the show that served the purpose of highlighting the colors we were about to see. Even NBC with their announcement that the following show is brought to you in living color and the NBC Peacock with so many colors showing on it’s feathers brought us joy. The fact that most shows were not in color made it much more exciting to see the ones that were!

Animation Art:Seriograph, "It's a Wonderful World" Tinkerbell Limited Edition Sericel (Walt
Disney, 1997)....
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Just like that coloring book is brought to life with colors, so too does our life shine with bright colors when we start counting our blessings. I look around me and see so many things that I can be thankful for. I could start listing so many things that make me thankful. Sometimes it is a good exercise just to think about things that we have as opposed to things we don’t. When we color in life’s coloring book we are not limited to 16, 24, or even 64 crayons. God wants to give us the desires of our heart as long as we keep him first. The Bible says to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; then all these things will be added unto you. Matthew 6:33. Too many times our problem is we are trying to get everything we think we want without putting God first in our lives. We end up either not getting what we want or feeling empty when we do. It is like trying to color a beautiful picture with just one crayon. God wants to make our life beautiful and he will not hold back one good thing to do so.

The reason that I like the “Colour My World” song so much is that it brings back such a good memory. It is a memory of years past when I was 17 years old and a Camp Counselor for a year. It was a Christian Camp with a mission of spreading the Gospel to young kids that came to the camp for a summer of fun. The memory is of another counselor at the camp who counseled in the girls dorm. She was about my age and very talented with a beautiful voice. The “Color My World” song was very relevant back then and was played on the radio often. One of the camp directors played the guitar and she sang “Colour My World.” However the words were changed a little. It still was a love song but it was now a love song to Jesus. Instead of Color my world with hope of loving you it was color my world with hope of loving Jesus. It was a beautiful rendition and it was made even more colorful and beautiful when she played her flute beautifully just like the music in the song.

Flute music flutist instrument playing — Stock Photo

I can still see her in my memory. Although I don’t remember her name I think about her whenever I hear that song. The song only has the original piano music, one chorus, and the pretty flute finish. It is not enough for me to listen to it once on my CD. I have to hit the replay button and hear it again. In my mind I see a young teenager who had already realized something that most people never do. She realized that Jesus is the only one who can truly make her happy. That is a wonderful thing to learn at a young age, but there is another part of the song that is so important. The lyrics to begin the song are “As time goes on, I realize, Just what you mean to me.” Sometimes we look back and realize how empty and black and white our world has become. As time goes on we realize that something is missing. It may be something we knew from our youth but lost our way or it may be a new revelation. When we let him, God will lift us out of the darkness and into the beautiful colors he has created just for us!

Step by step in life in color!

Screenshot Image
As time goes on
I realize
Just what you mean
To me
And now
Now that you're near
Promise your love
That I've waited to share
And dreams
Of our moments together
Color my world with hope of loving Jesus

Unknown Legends

When Jack Nicklaus won the Masters Golf Tournament in 1975 he was pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He wasn’t alone though. Also pictured was his Caddie Willie Peterson. This was the fifth Masters that Nicklaus had won and Willie was on the bag for all of them. The picture shows Nicklaus on the 16th hole of the final round very pleased with his long 40 foot putt and Willie very satisfied with it too! In fact Willie, who was holding the flag started jumping for joy just before the ball went in!

Before 1983 The Masters Tournament in Augusta Georgia had their own Caddies. They caddied at the club during the year and worked the event during Masters week! Golfers that qualified for the Masters had to pick one of the Masters Caddies for the week. This tradition went along with racist views of the Masters Tournament from it’s inception. Blacks were not allowed to be members of the Masters Golf Course or compete for the coveted green jacket the Masters winner got. They were relegated to working in the kitchen or other servant like positions. They weren’t allowed on the golf course except to carry the bags as Caddies. In the beginning the Caddies were looked on as serving the golfers by carrying his bag. Through the years however the Caddie position became very important and they became part of the team. In 1983 things changed in the Masters Caddie world. The players were for the first time allowed to bring their own Caddies. This was both a good and a bad thing. The Caddie business had become much more lucrative than it had been years earlier. Now the local Caddies were bypassed in many instances. In the years before that the local Caddies had made something bad into something good.

Ben Hogan, with Willie Lee Stokes on the bag, chips out of the crowd to the 7th green  in the third round of the 1951 Masters at Augusta

Willie Lee Stokes was the Masters Master when it came to Caddies. He was brought up in Augusta and knew the land that the Masters was built on because it was the farmland where his father worked. Late in his life Stokes recalled helping to clear the land by chopping down trees for the famous course. One of the founders Clifford Roberts took a liking to Stokes and Stokes was always Roberts personal Caddie. Roberts along with the legendary Bobby Jones came up with the Masters idea. The other major tournaments rotated their location each year. The Masters would always be played at the Augusta course. After purchasing the land Jones hired Alister Mackenzie to design it. Mackenzie was known as a famous golf course architect oversees. Jones helped by hitting shots from various spots on the course to help Mackenzie in his design. Clifford Roberts, the co-founder, was always looking after young Willie Lee Stokes. Roberts was instrumental in choosing the golfers for young Stokes to Caddie each year of the great event. In 1938 Stokes was teamed with Henry Picard. Picard went on to win the Masters that year for the one and only time. It was the first of 5 victories on the bag for Stokes. Stokes won with 4 different golfers (Ben Hogan twice). However his biggest mark on legacy was encouraging and teaching young Caddies that this unique positions main focus should be a combination of many attributes. A Caddie should be a psychologist, a teammate, another reference, a course expert, and a friend in the midst of good times and bad.

Augusta National Archive : News Photo

These skills were never more present than the 1979 Masters. A young Fuzzy Zoellers was playing his very first Masters. Looking back on the event 40 years later his Caddie Jeriah (Jerry) Beard and Zoeller couldn’t agree on the day they first met. One of them thought it was the Sunday before the Masters, the other on the Monday. “It was the luck of the draw”, Zoeller explained. “We only played 9 holes that Sunday”, Beard remembered. “You pull clubs?”, Zoeller asked as they were walking down the 10th fairway and first practice hole together. “Once I see how far you hit them”, was Beard’s quick answer. He suggested a 5 iron and Fuzzy hit a nice one right on the green! When they got to the 12th green that day Fuzzy asked “You read Greens?” Beard told Fuzzy exactly how the putt would break and Fuzzy knocked it right in the cup! Fuzzy looked at Beard and said “It’s your game, you got it.” Beard marveled years later about how naive Fuzzy was about the course. “He didn’t even have a yardage book, I pulled every club.” Asked about the event 40 years later Fuzzy verified Jerry’s story. “That is pretty much how I remember it, he told me what to do and I did it!” Fuzzy went on to win a 3 person playoff and became the one and only rookie to ever win the Masters. It was the ultimate team effort much like how a leader dog guides a blind person to get to a destination.

Augusta National Archive : News Photo

There is another story to this 1979 Masters Tournament. It involved a golfer named Ed Sneed. Ed had never won the Masters either and was on the cusp of achieving it. He led the great tournament by 5 strokes going into the last 18 hole round. Ed had played so well and his confidence was high. He knew in his heart that he would win. “There is no way I can lose”, he thought. Unlike the other days the wind was really gusting that day. Ed was confident he could play his low shots against the wind and keep them in play. Ed was feeling the pressure as he saw his lead slip on the back 9. Still he played well enough to stave off his rivals which were Tom Watson and Fuzzy. With 3 holes to go Sneed was ahead by 3 strokes over Watson and 4 over Fuzzy. Then he proceeded to bogey his last 3 holes and gave the others a chance to tie him. Sneed had a chance to win the tournament on the first playoff hole. He had a 10 foot putt that would secure victory. In the words of Sneed this is what happened.

“Fuzzy’s putt missed, and I could redeem myself with my 10-footer. My caddie (Bill Jackson) told me it would break slightly right. I thought it would go straight or slightly left, and although I had consulted him on a good number of putts that week and had confidence in him, I just couldn’t make myself play the ball out of the hole as Bill suggested. I putted for the left center of the cup and the ball slid by on the right.

Ed Sneed’s par putt on the 18th hole at the 1979 Masters hung on the lip. Sneed, who had started the day in the lead, then lost to Fuzzy Zoeller on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.

Comparing the story of Fuzzy’s complete trust in his Caddie and Ed not trusting in the crucial moment reminded me of how important it is to listen to God. You see God is like our seeing eye dog in a world of uncertainty. Jesus is all of the things a good Caddie should be in golf. He is our Counselor, our Friend, our Psychologist, and our teammate. He is that steady hand that will keep us on track and he will never lead us astray. Ultimately he is the leader who will guide us to eternal life. With all of the help he gives it is important when we have success to give him all of the glory. He is worthy of our praise and makes it possible for us to have any victories we receive.

Thinking about these unsung heroes brings light to the fact that in life the person in the limelight can’t do it alone. It is a team effort and unfortunately some members of the team don’t get recognition. That is how it is with God’s kingdom too. When we get to Heaven there will be a multitude of unknown heroes brought to light. Like the Caddies of old there will be many who never received the credit they deserved or the recognition that came with it while on this earth. That will all change in that day. God knows our heart and he sees things that people miss. There is no good deed no matter how small it seems here that will go unrewarded!

The only recognition that the public saw in Willie Peterson’s case was that Sports Illustrated cover. It was big news to the people that knew Willie and his family. It was a proud moment and yet he was in the picture but wasn’t the main focus. In 1999 Willie Peterson died. Being such a big part of 5 of the 6 Masters titles of Jack Nicklaus, and also the years he didn’t win, Jack had many fond memories of Willie. However, it was just recently that it was brought to Jack’s attention that Willie was buried without a marker. Jack was quick to contact Willie’s daughter and paid for a marker that would forever tell whoever visited that Willie had played a big part in 5 of Jacks Masters wins!

Stan Byrdy (@ByrdyTweetTweet) | Twitter

Running Down The Street

Can you imagine running down a street aimlessly without knowing where you are or where you are going? I’m reminded of driving to my college campus during orientation of my Freshman year and getting caught in a maze trying to get off of campus. It was very frustrating as every road that I took to try to get out either came to a dead end or to another unfamiliar road. There came a point where I was beginning to wonder if I would ever find the road to get me out. Looking back now I know that there are multiple ways to get off of campus. However I knew only one which was the way I got in. Getting turned around I lost my way. I don’t remember how I eventually found my way out but it was a long and agonizing process.

Guide for new students at Western Michigan University -

The Guess Who had a song in 1970 called “Running Down The Street.” The Lyrics are as follows.

Time after time
I played in the game
Fought in all the battles
Never once came up lame

Time marches on
And the tide reseeds
I need someone to help me
Help me fulfill my only need

Running down the street
And I think I’m going to cry
Cause I don’t think I can make it
When that look is in your eye

Show me the way
You know I’ll gladly go
Give e a head start
I’ve been moving much too slow

There’s got to be that something somewhere
There’s got to be that someone to show me the way
There’s got to be that line to follow
I can feel it coming to me any day now

Feel it coming any day now
Feel it coming any day now
Feel it coming any day now

Why the Guess Who Couldn't Play 'American Woman' at White House

The words to the song are troubling. It is someone who feels lost and unsure of where they are going. Aimlessly running down the street much like I was trying to get out of the campus prison I felt myself in. Sometimes we know we are lost and other times we don’t. When my mom and dad got married in Indiana they were trying to get back to Michigan. Mile after mile they drove and after a few hours they encountered a sign. “Welcome to Ohio.” My dad was upset and said a few choice words and mom confided that she was unsure of what she had gotten into. Happily they were married for 44 years before they both passed away in the same year. My point though is that you can think you are going in the right direction and you aren’t.

Welcome To Ohio Sign Along An Interstate Highway I Stock Photo - Download  Image Now - iStock

Just the other day I lost my glasses. They were in their case and now they are missing. It’s frustrating when I lose something. I go to the place I know they should be and they are not there. I can’t tell you how many times I have been to the familiar place and still no glasses, like something would change after a period of time. Fortunately I have a backup pair so all is not lost but not being able to find something is very frustrating as you probably know. We know that if something is lost it is not where it is supposed to be. That is the reason it is lost and you can’t find it going to those familiar places no matter how many times you try.

V.W.E. - Metal Aviator Glasses - Big Lens Spring Hinge Square - Gold  Gunmetal Old Men Grandpa Nerd Clear Lens - -

Deep inside we all know we need God. For many it is such an elation when we finally find what we are looking for. For others it is a continued search or an illusion that we are going the right way. Sometimes we are dramatically turned from our path (like the “Welcome to Ohio” sign. Other times we keep searching and aimlessly run or drive in a maze without seemingly any way out. Deep in our heart we know that the lyrics are true. We realize that there has to be that someone somewhere. Our existence is not an accident.

God wants to end our search. He sent his son to die for our sins and by a simple prayer we can receive him and have peace and joy. He will lead us out of the maze or aimlessly running down the wrong street. He will turn us around as we see the signs that we are going down the wrong road. Life begins to have meaning and purpose. The lyrics state that “There’s got to be that something somewhere, There’s got to be someone to show me the way.” That someone is Jesus and he loves you and will put you on the right road.

Please pray this simple prayer with me.

Dear God,
Forgive me of my sins and save me.
Take me out of this endless maze and going down the wrong road
Come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior.


If you prayed that prayer you are on your way to hope and freedom. You have found that someone who is out there and wants to show you the way. You have found that path to follow and you will feel strength coming to you every day!

A Supporting “Cast”

I still have his memory. I didn’t know Weaver. In fact I didn’t even know his first name but I remember him. I was 10 or 11 years old and played Summer baseball at an organization called the Baseball Clinic. The Clinic lasted 6 weeks and each day we got up early and took the bus to the morning of fun. Weaver was about my age and he had a broken arm. You would think that would keep him out of action but he did all that he could. In the games he played first base and I don’t remember him batting. Weaver was out there every day and he was admired by one and all for his love of the game and determination to keep playing.

ᐈ Arm in cast stock pictures, Royalty Free arm cast pics | download on  Depositphotos®

Most of the kids at the clinic were from the Portage Central school district. I was from Portage Northern’s so I would have never had met any of the other kids except at the clinic. Weaver apparently was from Portage Central and I suspect someone will read this and tell me whatever happened to Weaver. They also will tell me his first name and all about him. Those facts are not relevant to this story. In my mind I still picture Weaver with the cast on his throwing arm playing first base as if nothing was wrong with him.

I can imagine his parents having concerns. I can imagine them telling him to be careful and not take any chances. Then again I can also imagine Weaver playing ball without their knowledge. He might not have brought up that he was playing, for fear of causing worrying in his household. Maybe there would be a fear that he would not be allowed to play at all. All I do know is when the game started there was Weaver manning first base or boying first base to be proper. The memory I have is a tall skinny kid with a cast that seemed the length of his arm that couldn’t be missed in the morning sun.

Honeycutt A Hit With Kids -

The coaches must have realized how much Weaver wanted to play. He was placed at first base where he could catch the ball without being able to throw. I don’t remember Weaver trying to bat which he probably was prevented by the coaches. It was clear that Weaver wanted to participate and have fun no matter how limited he was going to be. He didn’t let his limitation take away his enjoyment. He didn’t let the fear of getting further injury or not being able to perform up to his abilities limit his participation. He enjoyed baseball and his friends and was determined to be there and be their teammate.

Like Weaver we should not live in fear. In fact the most frequent command in the new testament is “Do Not Be Afraid.” Usually with these verses comes a reason why and usually it is in effect that God is with us. I’m reminded of two different times when Jesus told his disciples to not be afraid. One time they took a boat out to sea without him. Jesus walked on the water to join them and when they saw him they were afraid. “Don’t be afraid”, he told them, “it is me”. Another time he was sleeping in the back of the boat when a strong storm came. Quickly out of fear they woke Jesus up and asked him if he cared if they all died? Jesus calmly rebuked the storm and all was at peace.

Jesus Calms the Storm

During this pandemic time we are getting mixed messages. One is to hide in your bunker and not experience life. The other is to live your life not out of fear but out of faith. I agree with the latter. The worst thing that we can be is extra fearful. With Jesus on our boat we know we will be safe. At the same time if you are older and or have preexisting serous medical issues be extra careful.

In life we take chances every day. Driving to work or anywhere else is really putting ourselves at risk. Can you imagine if we let the fear of an accident get in the way of the places we need to go? I looked up some of the biggest fears that we have. For instance the fear of germs, the fear of flying, the fear of spiders, the fear of dogs, the fear of being alone, and the fear of losing everything to name a few. With each fear comes a consequence far greater than the problem. Created in our mind is an unhealthy disease that attacks our inner being. It paralyzes us and leaves us living in fear instead of in faith. This is not really living or listening to Jesus when he said 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10. So we have to ask ourselves,, Are we listening to Jesus or the thief? Are we living in fear or in faith?

I can still picture Weaver playing with that cast on. It was on his weak right arm. The arm had been broken but his spirit was not. He was not discouraged and he had not lost hope. Eventually Weaver’s arm got better. He was able to play uninhibited and that is my hope for you and yours. As Weaver’s right arm was his weak one during that time God’s right hand gives us strength. Like the cast on Weaver’s arm protected it, God is there to protect us. He is there for us to look to when we are feeling down or afraid. The Bible tells us how we should live. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

From Rags To Riches

The U.S Open in Golf is one of the most cherished golf tournaments to win. Normally before the tournament the predictors can be pretty accurate as to a selected few who will compete for the title. One Summer day in 1967 Lee Trevino, a Mexican from Texas shocked the golfing world. Lee, a former Marine had played golf often in his Texas hometown but always for fun and money. The money he made was from bets and he did really well! It was suggested to Lee that he should try to qualify for the U.S. Open. Lee blindly tried to get into professional golf. He had a growing family and needed the money. He was poor in finances but he was rich in personality and optimism. He had to scrape up the $20.00 qualifying fee. It wasn’t easy but Lee succeeded. You see new people in golf have to qualify for the U.S. Open. If you were established like a Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer you had automatic berths. Those golfers had qualified long ago. The qualification is a tournament in itself. There are tons of pro golfing dreamers who test their skills. Most have no problem getting the fee like Lee did.

American golfer Lee Trevino in action, circa 1967. News Photo - Getty Images

Lee did end up qualifying along with a golfer named Johnny Miller. Lee was a very good golfer but he had an unusual style. Instead of the traditional high shots like a Jack Nicklaus played, Lee hit a low ball that faded to the right. In the course in Texas where the wind was stiff he developed this low shot to get through that stiff wind. Many times the wind was blowing right in his face and a high shot would not have worked. He learned to control that shot very well! He was not the longest off of the tee. In fact Lee’s drives traveled only about 240-245 yards but you could count on him consistently hitting the fairway. The course the Open was played at that year, Baltrusal Country Club in Springfield, New Jersey, favored players that kept the ball in the fairway. That kind of course was made for Lee’s game! Amazingly Lee Trevino, an unknown poor Mexican from Texas finished in fifth place among the finest golfers in the world!

Lee developed his golf swing so that he could hit low line drives. He had to experiment to see what swing would achieve that purpose. He didn’t have the money to take expensive lessons. One thing that Lee Trevino did have was determination. He developed a very flat swing. No instructor would have taught such a swing but it worked for Lee. He spent countless hours hitting golf balls. His early success in professional golf and the paycheck that followed was motivation. Now he not only wanted to finish in the running the next year, but he wanted to win it! He had the confidence in himself to know that his dream could come true.

Lee also had a very outgoing, friendly, happy go lucky personality! It did not go unnoticed in the world of golf. He developed followers who related to him. They were not the people that had the means to get expensive lessons. They were hard working people that loved the fact that he worked for everything he received. Lee would talk to anyone on the golf course. In fact he was constantly talking. It was almost like his golf swing interrupted his constant conversations. He played very loose and it was that constant chatter that kept him loose. Players on the tour didn’t like to play with Lee because he talked too much when they were trying to focus. That was just the way Lee was and it kept him loose whether he was talking to a fellow player or the crowd. He made golf entertaining and the gallery always enjoyed him because he brought them into the game!

Lee won the U.S. Open in 1968 and became the most talked about golfer in the world at that time. A true rags to riches story who didn’t start on the Tour until he was 28 years old. Three years later he won the Open again! In that tournament he tied with the great Jack Nicklaus and they played an 18 hole playoff the next day. Lee was very loose that day. Nobody expected him to win so he just relaxed. He had put this fake rubber snake in his bag and before the match he was entertaining the crowd with it. He had put the thing at the end of his golf club and the crowd was laughing. Nicklaus was sitting on the other side of the tee box and called for Lee to throw the snake over to him which he did. Although Jack claimed he wasn’t affected by the episode, he must have seen how loose Lee was.

Trevino's snake gag caught Nicklaus off guard

The very first hole Lee fell behind when he made a bogey. Lee played his steady golf and the match was pretty even when on the 7th tee box they were told play would be suspended. There was a lightning storm coming and they would wait it out. The storm and the rain that followed was actually a big break for Lee. He recognized it right away. Since he hit such a low ball many times he had to land before the green and roll them up. Now with the greens wetter he could hit his balls on the green without fear they would roll off. When play resumed Lee remained his steady self while Jack got caught in sand traps two holes in a row. Both times he was unable to get out of the traps on his first attempt. Lee ended up winning the playoff by 3 strokes.

While the U.S. Open fit Lee’s game like a glove there was one Tournament that didn’t fit at all. Many people thought that Lee didn’t play the Masters for years because of the segregated history the Tournament had. Actually Lee didn’t play because his game wasn’t suited for the course. The course was designed for players who hit a high draw (right to left) shot and Lee hit a low fade (left to right). In 1970 Lee was playing his first Masters with Kermit Zarley. Zarley was a Christian and Lee was having a bad day. As Lee hit his normal low shots they were not resonating with the Georgia course. Lee was getting upset and the swear words were streaming from his mouth. Near the end of the round Kermit had a talk with Lee. “Lee”, he said, “I don’t like you talking bad about a friend of mine.” Lee caught by surprise knew one guy we’ll say Charley who they both knew. “I didn’t say anything about Charley.” “No it wasn’t Charley”, Zarley continued, “it is my friend Jesus Christ.”

Kermit Zarley - American Golfer : News Photo
Kermit Zarley

That same year Zarley was paired with Lee again at the Houston Open. Lee told Zarley “Well, Moon Man, I’ve cleaned up my act. No more smokin,’ drinkin’ or cussin’.” I replied, “That’s all very well and good, Lee, but that won’t get you through the pearly gates. You’ve got the cart before the horse.” Lee quickly changed the subject sighting the failures of the Catholic Church. When the round was over the reporters wanted to know if the tough conditions of the course affected Lee’s play? Lee’s answer was surprising. He looked at Zarley who was seated a few feet away and said “It isn’t easy playing with John the Baptist.”

When Trevino was struck by lightning at a Tournament a few years later, he said “I’m not worried. God is protecting me because he’s in me”, Zarley was excited to see Lee at a Tournament shortly after and asked him about his statement. Once again Lee changed the subject and it was clear there was not that relationship Zarley had hoped for. Years later Zarley heard that Lee was going to church with his whole family by his home in Dallas. Zarley was hopeful that maybe Lee would be able to talk not only about things that will soon pass, but about his other rags to riches story. You see like Trevino we start in life very poor. We are poor because we have no relationship with God. When we find that relationship it is truly a rags to riches story! As satisfying as it was for Trevino to go from poverty to riches imagine how it will feel when we enter the pearly gates and see what real riches look like!

Taking Off The Goat Horns

In life and especially in sports someone emerges as the hero and someone else the goat.  It almost seems like a balancing act,  Kind of like where there is darkness there is light, where there is bad there is good.   On that fateful day October 3, 1951 Bobby Thomson was the hero and Ralph Branca was dubbed the goat.  To understand the importance of the situation you need a history of New York baseball at that time.  New York or more affectionately called “The Big Apple”, was the hub of baseball back then.  The Yankees were in the midst of 5 straight World Series victories and the Brooklyn Dodgers were winning national league pennants with regularity.  Then there was the New York Giants who always had an intense rivalry with the Dodgers.  If you lived in New York you were identified in a large part by who you rooted for.  Many Yankee fans were front runners.  It was easy rooting for the Yankees because they seemed to always win.  They wore suits to the games and ushers not only escorted them to their seats but wiped them off as an extra bonus.

The New York Yankees of the 1950s: Mantle, Stengel, Berra, and a Decade of  Dominance: Fischer, David: 9781493038923: Books

If you lived in New York and were not a Yankee fan you might have been a Giant fan.  Giant fans were more traditionalists.  The Giants used to own New York baseball.  At the turn of the century the Dodgers and the Highlanders (now known as the Yankees) were not very good teams.  However the Giants were always contending for the pennant.  A good number of Giant fans grew up Giant fans in the family tradition.  Grandfathers and fathers taught their kids to love the Giants.  They also grew up hating the Dodgers who they played 22 times a year.  Giant fans were more of the middle of the road team as far as economics. They were not the elite like many of the Yankees fans were and they were not on the other side of the scale like most Dodgers fans.  The Giants played in an ancient ball park called the Polo Grounds.  They used to rent the Polo Grounds to the upstart Yankees until the Yankees built a new stadium which could be seen on a clear day from your seat at the Polo Grounds.

The third team the Brooklyn Dodgers had fans like no other.  Because Brooklyn was a place in New York without very much going on for it, the baseball team was far more important to their inhabitants than fans of the other two.  The Brooklyn fans were mostly blue collar workers.  Their dominant language was Brooklynese which was actually an accent which pronounced words differently.  For example back in the history of the Dodgers they got a former Yankee pitcher named Waite Hoyt late in his career.  Hoyt hit a double one time and on his way to second base he pulled a muscle.  A disappointed Brooklyn fan was heard saying “Hurt is hoyt.”

Classic Photos of Ebbets Field in 1940 | Money

The Brooklyn fans were crazy about their team. A big event was going to their little cozy ball park. It only seated a little over 30,000. There were hometown signs on the fence and popular national advertisers. One of the signs was a local Tailor who advertised that if someone hit the sign on the fly they would get a free suit. The problem was that Brooklyn’s best outfielder Carl Furillo played right field and nobody can ever remember the sign being hit. The ballpark was built in limited space which explains its odd dimensions which included a very short right field. To counter that a big wall was built to hit over. Hitting that wall caused different problems for the fielder. The ball was liable to bounce anywhere after it hit courtesy of the angle and hardness of the hit. Carl Furillo became an expert playing the angles and it was an advantage for the Brooklyn team.

Ebbets Field - Wikipedia

The Brooklyn players were part of the community. It was not uncommon to run into them at the grocery store or on the subway coming from the game. They were loved even when they had a bad team and their affection was so strong that they called the team “Dem Bums” as they still flocked to the ballpark. The fans had a band called the Brooklyn Sym phony which was named by their announcer Red Barber with the emphasis on the word phony. Their sound was awful, out of tune and lacking timing. But the Brooklyn fans loved them. They also had unforgettable fans like Hilda Chester who had a very loud voice and a cow bell that she rang constantly especially after a Dodger good play! As you can see the Brooklyn Dodgers were almost like a religion to Brooklyn inhabitants and their games were inflated greatly as to their importance. In that setting walked Ralph Branca in the third and final playoff game to determine who would go to the World Series.

Branca was called to relieve Don Newcombe who had pitched a wonderful game but was out of gas. Leading 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning the Giants got their first 2 men on base courtesy of hits. With runners on second and third and only one out manager Charley Dressen took Newcombe out. Walking the long walk from the bull pen was Ralph Branca. As Branca met Newcombe they had a little talk. “Don’t worry about it big fella, I’ll take care of everything.”, Branca reportedly said. Years later Newcombe quipped that “it only took 2 pitches but he took care of it alright.”

Branca put his foot on the pitching rubber. It was a place he had been many times and he felt comfortable. His first pitch was his best, a fastball right down the middle. Thomson took it for strike one. He was frustrated thinking he might not see a pitch like that again. Branca thought that he would throw his next fastball high and tight. It would be out of the strike zone and brush Thomson off of the plate and prepare him for a possible curve ball or fastball over the outside corner with later pitches. Unfortunately for Ralph there were no later pitches. Thomson turned on the fastball that would have come close to hitting him and slugged a low line drive down the left field line.

Everything happened so fast. The ball barely cleared the wall and the place was going crazy. Thomson was carried off of the field and the Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges was yelling into his microphone “The Giants win the Pennant, The Giants win the Pennant.” A dejected Branca was forced to take the long walk to the dressing room in defeat. What a lonely walk that must have been. Feeling like the goat, feeling like his world had come to an end and feeling like he let his teammates and his fans down all rolled into one.

In the Locker room Branca was crying. He stretched himself out on the steps between the outside door and the locker room area. A cameraman took a picture of him and won a prize for it. Branca face down obviously in misery clearly showed the agony of defeat. After a long while Branca got dressed and was walking across the parking lot to his car. He happened to see a priest and in a short meeting words of wisdom were given. Words that would stay with Branca for the rest of his life. “Why me? Why” , Ralph asked the Priest. “Because”, the priest said, “God knew that you were strong enough to carry his cross.”

Joshua Prager, author of The Echoing Green:The Untold Story of Bobby  Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World - Jerry Jazz  Musician

Ralph Branca married his fiance just a 17 days after the tragic event. Even though many Brooklyn fans didn’t forgive him Branca was able to eventually forgive himself. He became good friends with Bobby Thomson and was even able to laugh about the hero and the goat labels. He was a leader in the foundation of B.A.T.S which helps former big league players who are struggling with their finances. After hearing of Brancas death in 2016 at the age of 90 Vin Scully the ex Brooklyn broadcaster said it best. “I was closer to Ralph than to any other Dodger,” Scully said, after hearing the news. “We traveled around the world and became very good friends. He carried the cross of the Thomson home run with dignity and grace. I was grateful for his friendship and I grieve at his death. He was a great man.”

Like Branca many of you are wondering why. Why did this happen to me? Why did I make this stupid mistake? Why did this go so wrong when I meant it to be so right? Like Branca, you need to take off those goat horns that are bringing you down. Whatever happened is over and done. Make the best of your experiences good and bad, but move on. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Quit living in the past and blaming yourself daily for past mistakes. You are not growing when you can’t get past the history that is holding you back. Why did this happen to you? The answer is the same as what the Priest told Branca. “Because God knew you were strong enough to carry his cross!

Jesus Carrying Cross Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

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