Before you read this I want to say a couple of things. First, I am not writing this to get in a debate with anyone or say look at me (and if you don’t agree just please keep scrolling or delete this post from your newsfeed). I have never considered myself a religious person but certainly a faithful person. I also consider myself a sinner and someone that needs God’s grace to have eternal life. I also have many friends and people I know and respect who don’t share that faith or belief. I love and respect them, just as I do with those who have faith in Christ, because everyone’s journey is different and I trust Jesus to give us all opportunities to show His love for us and for us to show our love for Him. I am sharing this story because about a month ago I said a prayer out loud asking God to give me a platform in which I could glorify Him. I forgot all about that prayer until this morning when I started writing some notes so I would remember Saturday’s game. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t use this opportunity He gave me.
Secondly, talking to Jesus out loud is helpful for me because I do not take subtle hints (just ask my wife). In the past, I have asked Jesus to be clear to me when He says things because otherwise I won’t hear Him. For the people with faith, I hope this story helps deepen it, for the people without faith, maybe this will help you open your eyes to see when Jesus is talking to you. Or you’ll just think I am nuts, either way I hope you are entertained. Looking back, this is how Saturday’s platform transpired and how Jesus was talking to me.
Over the past month or so, our baseball team has been on a roll in the playoffs. In our first two games in the state tournament, we had won two games and I was the winning pitcher in both, with complete game wins. Over the past month of playoffs I had been throwing the ball as well as I ever remember, which is considerable since I was unable to throw without pain just four months ago. Needless to say, with this success, I felt a humbling moment coming on.
On Friday I went to a visitation for the twin brother of my college baseball coach. His name is Don Bowyer, I had met Don on a number of occasions - he was a hustle kind of guy and he loved baseball, so we got along well. The last time I saw him was on the plaza at a Twins game, he was selling Angie’s Kettle Corn (his retirement job). I was fortunate to get to the visitation a bit early and had some considerable time to talk with my college coach Dean Bowyer and his wife Cheri. They shared some stories of a great man and I was reminded how baseball has connected me to some great people and great mentors.
On my way home that afternoon I felt very humbled and had a feeling God was talking to me. I actually prayed out loud, “God, you have a great way of humbling people and I have a feeling you are going to humble me at the ballgame tomorrow. I’d appreciate it if you went easy on me.”
Before the game I didn’t feel great, it was hot and humid and my body didn’t feel real fresh, I guess that’s what being 36 feels like. With all my years of playing sports I have never been much of a pre-game prayer guy. I always felt God had more important things to do than worry about the outcome of a ballgame. But while stretching (and my body not feeling great) I felt that humbling moment coming on again and said another prayer out loud, “God, just help me do the very best I can’. I have been part of many team pre-game prayers but that is honestly the first time I recall consciously taking time to do that on an individual level.
We were the visiting team in the game and we scored 1 run in the top of the first. The run was unearned. As I sat on the bench I remembered the 2012 state tournament, when the Bears gave up a run in the top of the first on an unearned run…and ended up getting no-hit in by Kyle Collins and Avon losing 1 to 0. Before I even got on the mound I had a feeling something special may happen and a no-hitter was on my mind from pitch #1. 9 innings later, with the help of some great defense, the no-hitter was complete and we had advanced to the next round of the state tournament. The announcer said some things but I didn’t hear them at the moment, just in a bit of a daze…giving high-fives and hugs to teammates.
We picked up our stuff from the dugout and had a team meeting before heading out to the stands. At that point I walked behind the dugout and one of the first people I saw standing there was Katie Harrison, after a few minutes she approached me and said, “you know how I am a numbers gal…and the announcer said you just threw the 22nd no-hitter in state tournament history.” I didn’t hear the announcer say that at the time but #22 is the number of her late husband, my friend and teammate Josh Harrison - so a considerable sign that this was by His design. Thanks to Corey Tauer for sharing the video so I could hear the announcer say it again. Over the weekend, the MN Baseball website said it was the 23rd no hitter so there was contradicting information. This morning I confirmed that the no-hitter was indeed #22. I had no doubt. Josh was our first baseman in the 2012 game in which we were no-hit but, as teammate Jared Woodward reminded me, if it wasn’t for that game in 2012 Saturday’s no-hitter would have been #21. (As I write this I just realized that at the beginning of the state tournament (August 19th) I change my facebook profile picture to Josh pitching for the Bears.) Fun to watch deuces!
Then comes the humbling moment of the handshakes, hugs and pats on the back from some people you’ve known your whole life, some you just met for the first time, some you tried to beat on the ball field and some who were longtime teammates. My phone was in my truck so about an hour later I checked it to see many texts, facebook comments, emails and phone calls from people I know and some I’ve never met. Indeed God humbled me in a great way on Saturday. Thank you all for the well wishes.
Some of you may think I am crazy, some may think I am just tooting my own horn to highlight the no-hitter. The craziness comes from being left handed, the no-hitter was a gift from God (and maybe some help from a good friend in Heaven). We all have our own platform to use to glorify God as witness to his son Jesus Christ, whether it’s within your family, in your community or across this great earth. It started for me when I realized that I am a sinner and no matter what I do I cannot change that. The only thing I can do is continue to grow my relationship with Jesus and strive to do better.
Enjoy the day!