EDITOR’S NOTE: With the start of baseball season, we thought we’d provide you some history about one of the game’s most storied announcers. Enjoy Opening Day at whatever ballpark you might find yourself. Play ball!
In 2002, 66-year-old Harry Kalas was awarded the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award, commemorating his more than 30-year career as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Kalas’ career, however, really started when he was a child.
At his first professional baseball game, the wide-eyed 8 year old accompanied his father to Comiskey Park to see the Chicago White Sox play the Washington Senators. Unfortunately, it was a rainy night, and Kalas sat squirming and anxiously awaiting the game’s delayed start.
Their seats were behind the Washington dugout. And what transpired next forever changed Kalas’ life.
“Because of the rain, the field was covered,” Kalas recalled years later. “There was no batting practice, so the players didn’t have anything to do. Mickey Vernon of the Senators popped out of the dugout, saw this kid – me – picked me up, took me in the dugout, gave me a baseball, introduced me to his teammates, and thus began my love of baseball and the Washington Senators.”
Can you imagine the excitement in that little boy? His heart racing with non-stop enthusiasm, describing to his father what he had experienced. Someone noticed him, took action and forever changed Kalas’ life.
One of my favorite Bible stories is in Luke 8, where Jesus heals a woman with a “discharge of blood for twelve years.” The story says “people pressed around” Jesus and that the woman simply touched the “fringe of his garment.” She was immediately healed.
As miraculous as the healing was, the next part of the story is what I have always found most interesting. With the crowd of people pressing against him, Jesus responded, “Who was it that touched me?” Peter finally explained to him, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” He was telling Jesus, “Of course someone touched you. A lot of someones touched you, and you want us to find the one? C’mon, Jesus.”
However, Jesus knew someone with great faith had touched him. “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me,” he said. The woman stepped forward, fell down before him and admitted to touching his garment. “Daughter, your faith has made you well,” Jesus told her. “Go in peace.”
Amid a crowd of people, Jesus noticed one who needed physical and spiritual healing, and He was moved to action. With miraculous power and soothing words, He healed and encouraged the woman – all because Jesus noticed her.
Reading this story always challenges me to see individuals instead of crowds. I’m challenged to pay attention to people so that I might share the gospel with them. I’m further challenged to take action when I see opportunities and not to selfishly hold back.
I find that when I live with greater sensitivity to gospel-sharing opportunities, I find plenty of them. The trouble is that I don’t live that way nearly enough. Opportunities to share the gospel and possibly change the trajectory of someone’s life are all around.
Who knows? You and I might even find opportunities like those at a baseball game.