Christian living, Inspirational

Let God Call Balls And Strikes

By Del Duduit

When the World Series starts tonight, I’ll be rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

Not because I follow the team from Beantown or because of historic Fenway Park, but I have a personal reason to cheer for the Sox.

A close friend of mine is a professional baseball scout for the organization.

Tim Martin was my son’s high school baseball coach and lives only a few miles away from me.

We have been close friends for several years. We’ve been to New York together twice when we took the high school team to Cooperstown to walk through the Baseball Hall of Fame. We took in a couple of Yankees games and chased those kids all over Chinatown.

Tim praying with his Falcons in left field before the game. My son Eli (7) led in prayer.

Tim is also featured in a chapter in my new book coming out in February called Dugout Devotions: Inspirational Hits from MLB’s Best by New Hope Publishers.

In Tim’s portion, he talks about his life when he pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization until Tommy John surgery ended his short-lived career.

For several years, he couldn’t watch an MLB game because bitterness built up inside him. A few years later, he was asked to coach the Mighty Minford Falcons high school baseball team for his alma mater.

He was a successful high school coach who brought out the best in his players. But he wasn’t a Christian during many of those seasons. A few years back, a couple of players routinely took the team out to left field and had prayer. This bothered Tim a little because deep down, he knew he should be the one who set the example.

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It wasn’t long after until Tim gave his heart to the Lord. From that moment, he was a different man and coach.

I appreciate that my youngest son, Eli, got to play for Tim and enjoyed a fruitful baseball career where he was team MVP two years, team captain for three and made the All-Conference and All-District teams. He won numerous awards, but the best memory I have was from his freshman year.

I took this picture of Eli after he knocked in a game-winning run.

Eli was up to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out and a runner on third base with the score tied. Minford was playing Wheelersburg (two-time state champions) and had their ace on the mound, who ended up being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles.

I remember I was more nervous than Eli, but my son connected on a grounder that allowed Ray Bryan to score the winning run! Some of his fellow players picked him up with joy and excitement, and Tim was so proud his team was not intimidated and rallied to knock off the Pirates.

Those were fun times and it brought joy to our lives.

Today, Tim still wants to help put smiles on the faces of kids. But now he’s doing it in a different way.

He told me over coffee the other day that he was sitting downstairs in his home in July watching baseball on television when he heard God whisper to him. He had been noticing commercials on and off over the past year about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

When the Lord lays something on your heart you just need to do it.

Tim Martin

For those who don’t know about St. Jude, it is a hospital with a mission to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of its founder, Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

“You see those commercials and always think about your own kids or grand kids,” Tim said. “And I really wanted to do something to help.”

His busy schedule of scouting, showcases and life in general kept him from helping.

But on this particular day, he felt the tug.

“I said, ‘that’s it, I’m going to set it up and make this work,” he said. “I’m not waiting any more.”

With my friend Tim Martin

Tim has held showcases and baseball events all over Ohio and has some high profile connections. But this is different.

He has organized a baseball camp on Dec. 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio at Champions Baseball Academy, and all the proceeds will go to St. Jude.

“I got in touch with them down there in Memphis, and it all came together,” he said. “This is going to be an annual event.”

And Tim will have with him a few stars from baseball past. Tom Browning, who fired a perfect game for the Cincinnati Reds in 1988, will be on hand, along with Al Oliver, who won the MLB Batting Title in 1982 and a ring with the Pirates in 1971. The camp will be for players ages 7-18 and will be filled with fun and fundamentals.

“When the Lord lays something on your heart, you just need to do it,” Tim said. “Whether you have time or not, you need to make it. When you do something for His glory, it will work out.”

If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.

Isaiah 1: 19 KJV

That’s why I’m cheering for Boston this week. I want my friend to get his second World Series ring as a member of the Red Sox organization. He earned his first in 2013 as a member of the scouting team.

He doesn’t need to do this for himself or to impress the brass in Boston. He’s doing this because the Lord put it on his heart.

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What has God told you to do for His glory? Have you put off doing something to honor the Lord?

Don’t let life get in your way. You don’t have to put together a baseball camp, but you can obey His instruction. He might be calling you to visit people in a hospital or begin a ministry. Stop putting it off and make the call to the Bull Pen.

Let me know your thoughts on this post.

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

His first book — BUCKEYE BELIEVER – 40 Days of Devotions for The Ohio State Faithful –can be purchased on Amazon here.

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