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Tag Archives: Opening Day Baseball

The Final Out

As Spring Training games began last week in Arizona and Florida, it won’t be long before sports enthusiasts celebrate Opening Day baseball in the Major Leagues.  While winter continues to interrupt spring sports, those trapped inside are getting anxious for dryer and greener pastures.  Nicknamed America’s favorite pastime, baseball seasons coincide with the start of warmer weather and conclude as fall descends upon this country.  Before the final out is recorded, individuals will experience the smell of freshly cut grass, longer hours of daylight and blooming flowers that brighten up neighborhood landscapes.

I’ve spent more than 1/3 of my life playing and or coaching ball.  In the days of my youth, I never fully enjoyed this game.  Perfection, success and winning stifled my ability to appreciate 9 years of playing baseball.  However, when I got a second chance through 7 years of highly competitive softball, I savored every moment on the field.  I treated each at bat and play as if it was my last, flying, diving and sprinting around the bases.  Although I still haven’t achieved the promise in John 10:10, I discovered the abundant life on a softball field, considering each obstacle a pure joy, James 1:2-4.

My last game on a baseball and softball diamond were nearly identical, reaching the championship.  Despite playing a different position, a pop fly came my way, giving me an opportunity to secure the final out.  I blew my first chance, getting lazy as the ball glanced off the edge of my glove.  A comfortable margin postponed the inevitable victory, ending my baseball career on a good note.  However, the second time I seized the moment, using 2 hands, squeezing my glove and embracing my teammates as God had chosen me to record the final out.

by Jay Mankus

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Not So Weak After All

On my only day off during last week, I spent time helping finish field work in anticipation of Opening Day for Greater Newark Baseball.  Fighting a fever, extreme exhaustion and side effects from medicine, I quickly became emotionally drained.  Unable to sleep, I wrote a blog at 4:30 am, that’s in the morning for those who slept past noon over Spring Break.  Anyway, the only strength I could muster was a lame, but effective prayer, “In my weakness Lord, be strong today!”

Minutes after verbalizing these words, I lost my keys, was late to work and felt worthless for most of my first shift.  However, as I look back on my day, somewhere near the end of my first shift, the power of the Holy Spirit kicked in.  From there, God blessed me with one amazing encounter after another.

I was able to bring a smile to hundreds of children through a 30 minute long Chick-fil-A cow appearance at the Christiana Mall.  I nearly brought one parent to tears after offering her infant a Mini-Cow.  Another woman mumbled under her breath, “I need to eat Chick-fil-A, their people take care of their customers like first class citizens.”  Between 4-8pm this evening, I was walking on air, floating on the wings of angels.  Paul was right in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, when we are weak, Christ truly is strong, and not so weak after all!

by Jay Mankus

Opening Day 2013

About a month ago, I began to ponder in my mind the message I wanted to communicate to my 11-12 year old baseball team and their parents on opening day.  Since I believe brevity is clarity, I try to say as little as possible, maximizing the power of each word.  Unsuccessful in my initial attempts, the novel idea of praying for wisdom led to form the  invocation I shared today for Greater Newark’s Baseball League’s Opening Day Ceremony.

Not shy about public speaking, last year I was put on the spot after the reverend who was scheduled could not attend, called in from the bullpen to relieve the starter.  With  3 words on my heart, today’s last second notice was not as shocking.  Thus, the theme I wanted to share with just my team, was broadcast to all in attendance, in accordance with God’s will!

The first word God gave me was memories.  Whether a ball player hits a home run, assists in making a double and triple play or makes a game winning catch, these moments in time will be forever etched in a youth’s mind.  No one can take these memories away, brought to recall each time they pass a ball field in life.

This second word has had a much deeper meaning in my life, friendship.  After my 3 children spent 10 years at the same private school, a lost job thrust each into the public school system, scary for any parent, especially in Delaware.  On the first day of his new school, my middle child Daniel came home estatic.  In homeroom, one of his best friends from baseball, Xavier, introduced him several students, making him feel at home.

Finally, the last word the Holy Spirit gave me was legacy.  The game of baseball provides a series of tests, blown calls from umpires to name of few.  Yet, this game teaches great life lessons which can develop character within a child’s life, James 1:4.  Therefore, how you respond to these circumstances dictates the legacy you leave behind: good, bad or ugly.  At the conclusion of the game, when the scoreboard is turned off and the crowds part ways, how will people remember you?  Until this day, play ball!

by Jay Mankus

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