Read an Excerpt
Copyright 2004 by Dave Dravecky and Mike Yorkey Creative Services, Inc.
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Dravecky, Dave. Called up: stories of life and faith from the great game of baseball / by Dave Dravecky with Mike Yorkey.1st ed. P. cm. Includes index. ISBN 0-310-25230-X 1. Christian life. 2. BaseballReligious aspectsChristianity. I. Yorkey, Mike. II. Title. BV4501.3 .D73 2003 242'.68dc22 2003022952 CIP
This edition printed on acid-free paper.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meanselectronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any otherexcept for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.
Interior design by Michelle Espinoza
Printed in the United States of America
04 05 06 07 08 09 /. DC/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
LEADING OFF 1
The one player I hated to see step into the batter's box was Tim Raines, a speedy shortstop who played much of his career with the Montreal Expos. Tim did not swing a home-run bat, but he was a line-drive hitter who could hit for average, beat out ground balls for base hits, and regularly turn singles into doubles when the outfielder didn't hustle to cut off the ball.
Tim was one of the best base-stealers of my era. If you walked him or held him to a single, he was a threat to steal second and third because of his blazing speed and uncanny timing. Everyone knew that his coaches gave him the green light when he roamed the base paths. Tim was such a base-stealing threat that my coaches continually harped on me to keep him close. 'Give the catcher a chance to throw him out,' they said.
Tim worked hard to get into the head of the pitcher once he took his lead. I know he tried to get into mine. My number-one priority was to get the hitter out, but when I took my stretch and watched Tim inch his way to a bigger and bigger lead, I was supremely aware that he was a huge threat to go at any time.
Tim knew that I knew that he knew he could steal second base just about any time he wanted to. He also knew that he had flustered hundreds of pitchers over the years to the point of distraction. Distracted pitchers 'lose' the next batter by giving up a base on balls or delivering a fat pitch that results in a 'gapper' all the way to the wall. Believe me, you give Tim Raines a running start, and he could score standing up on an extra-base hit.
That's why I concentrated very hard when Tim took his lead off first base. I focused on the job at hand: keep Tim close, stay ahead in the count, and make good pitches. Don't make a mistake. Keep your focus.
I've tried to keep that single-minded focus in my Christian life. Focusing on God's Word has become so important to me that I work hard not to be distracted. I do that through prayer, fellowship, and regularly reading God's Word. I'm not perfect in these areas, not by a long shot. But these are all things we can do on a consistent basis, which will help us not be distracted by the everyday happenings of life.
What do you do to remain focused in your Christian life? Are you reading your Bible each day? Attending church consistently every Sunday? Participating in a weekly Bible study, especially a men's group? Don't forget: Satan knows that you know that he knows he can distract you with the 'busyness' of life. If the Great Deceiver can distract your spiritual attention away from God's Word and fellowship with other believers, he can run wild on your base paths.
Nope, you never want Satan even to reach first base. Punch him out with your best pitcha single-minded desire to follow Jesus Christ.
Belonging to the Chatter Class
When the San Diego Padres called me up in 1982, I felt as if I was the greenest rookie ever to put on a big league uniform. For the first couple of weeks, I tiptoed around the clubhouse as if I didn't belong there. I kept my head down and my mouth shut.
Once the game started, however, I wanted to help out the team anyway I could, so I cheered from the bench. I guess I could still hear my old Little League coach bellowing, 'Let's hear some chatter, guys.'
So I chattered. I yelled at the opposing pitcher ('You're losing it, Two-Nine!') and jumped up whenever one of our guys made a great play or stroked a big hit. I was first in line to shake the hand and slap the back of our home-run hitters. In those days, the high-five, bashing forearms, or rapping knuckles hadn't been invented yet.
I guess my cheerleading bothered a few of my 'cooler' teammates. One time, shortstop Garry Templetonone of the flashier players in the gameeyed me after one of my leather-lunged outbursts.
'Dave, calm down,' he ordered. 'You're in the big leagues now.'
I felt every teammate's eyes boring down on me.
'Sure, Tempy,' I mumbled. 'Anything you say.'
Later that night, however, I began to have second thoughts. Wasn't I playing a kid's game? Wasn't it funner to play baseball that way? What's wrong with having a good time at the old ballpark?
I decided that I would have a 'kid's game' attitude for as long as I was in the big leagues. Of course, I tempered my enthusiasm whenever Tempy was in the neighborhood, but by golly, I would keep up the chatter.
And I sure had fun doing it.
They Said It
'I bleed Dodger blue and when I die, I'm going to the big Dodger in the sky.' Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers manager
'Wait until Tommy meets the Lord and finds out that he's wearing pinstripes.' Gaylord Perry, Hall of Fame pitcher
A SAD SHOW 2
Baseball fans think that when major league ballplayers leave the gameor are handed their pink slipsthat we traipse off to our winter retirement homes in Arizona, kick off the shoes, and watch ESPN Sports Center around the clock.
Believe me, even listening to Chris Berman say 'back-backback- back' can get old. For most people, loafing around is okay for a few months, but most of us are eager to do something, whether it's opening a pizza parlor or starting up a Web site that sells gum chewed by Luis Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa.
Once the cheering stops and you have to reenter the 'real world,' it can be difficult to adapt, even if you have millions in the bank to comfort the blow. Some struggle more than others. Some of my former teammates didn't handle the post-baseball years very well. Alan Wiggins, a second baseman-turned-junkie, died of AIDS after being infected by a needle. Pitcher La Marr Hoyt was arrested at the Mexican border with a trunk full of drugs. John 'The Count' Montefusco was arraigned before a judge for beating up his wife.
Then there's the sad tale of Eric Show1 (rhymes with pow), who was a pretty good pitcher in his day, winning more games in a Padre uniform than anyone in franchise history. When I was called up to The Show for the first time in 1982, one of the first persons to greet me was Eric Show. As far as I was concerned, Eric was a borderline genius, who not only knew the Bible inside and out but could expound on philosophers such as Kant, Hegel, Freud, and Kierkegaard. He was an accomplished jazz musician who self-produced several albums.