Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cardboard Gods - A story told through baseball cards

  I recently finished reading (alright, I didn't read it but listened to it on audio while walking the dog and trying to shed some excess summer pounds) an interesting book that was both a memoir of author Josh Wilker's growing up in the 1970's while also intertwined with baseball cards and connections in his life.

He grew up as an obsessed Carl Yastrzemski fan and his attempted correspondence with him.

He pulls in cards like the 1975 Herb Washington - the only player to ever have a baseball card with the title "Designated Pinch Runner" since he never had an at bat! Wilker compares his unique baseball talent with his hippie parents of the early 70's.

As a teen, he shares how he struggled with his brother, classmates, and in general growing up.  This led to his confusion of certain players such as Dave and Doug Rader.  I can certainly relate to searching through a bunch of cards looking for a certain card like a Tim Foli and finding Tom Foley!

He also shares his passion for the 1975 Steve Garvey card for its Utopian feel (yes, I did just watch Zootopia with the kids, but that is neither here nor there..).  Wilker loves the symmetry of the card, the bright colors, the background, and in all, just what he refers to as the "Perfect Baseball Card" even though he is a Yaz fan.

I really enjoyed this book and wish someone would do this same thing for those of us raised in the 80s!  Here's looking at some of my blogger friends like SanJoseFuji - I could see you writing an book like this!  If you get a chance read this book - or listen to it while you walk the dog!  I promise you will think of your collection of cards and start making connections of your own!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Perfect Project

It is not too often in life where you can truly tie many of the things in life you are passionate about into one project.  This was the project for me.  As a teacher, I share the love of inspiring students and teaching them things.  As a woodworker, I have the satisfaction of taking a pile of wood and creating something useful out of it.  As an autograph collector, I have the ability to take what would normally be a useless 5 cent piece of cardboard and give it significance.  When a baseball player adds a bible verse to their card, they give these letters and numbers meaning!

This  project combined all of my passions: sports, woodworking, teaching, and faith.

I wanted to include players who included bible verses as well as sayings such as "God Bless" and "Not in I, but Christ".

Many players have their own inspirational cards they hand out to their fans which recount stories of faith and how they were led to follow the ways of Jesus Christ.

The final project is one that I am proud of.  It is something I can use which should bring me joy each time I look at it in my classroom as well as to students who have an interest in sports or the bible. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer movies, baseball, and family

Christian movies have come a long way in recent years.  With the low budget, sub par actors, and cheesy story lines, they were something you were forced to watch at Sunday School.  However, in recent years, companies like Pure Flix and others have invested decent amounts of money, actors like Kirk Cameron and Dean Cain have contributed their acting skills, and the writers have stories which appeal to a broad audience.

Here are a few Christian Baseball Movies you may be interested in watching:
One Hit From Home
Baseball superstar Jimmy Easton returns home after a devastating knee injury cuts short his promising career. In search of a new purpose for his life, Jimmy faces dark memories from his past as he tries to make peace with a world he once left behind. His life takes a transforming turn when he is involuntarily thrust back into the world of baseball - not as a player, but as the coach of an underachieving college team struggling to rise above mediocrity. Coach Jimmy's rocky relationship with Brandon Elliott, the team's only star, forces both of them to deal with their similarly checkered pasts. 

A pro ball player with a substance abuse problem is forced into rehab in his hometown, finding new hope when he gets honest about his checkered past, and takes on coaching duties for a misfit Little League team.
The Investigator
Police Sergeant James Buanacore, a twenty-year veteran investigator, starts the most important investigation of his life when a drug bust goes tragically wrong, forcing James out of the job he loves and into retirement. When James' wife Stephanie has a miscarriage, he is devastated and begins to question his previously strong faith. Depressed and angry, James isolates himself until his famous brother encourages him to take a job as a criminal justice teacher and baseball coach at a Christian high school. With his cop mentality challenging his students, James struggles through experiences with an unsupportive principal, a guidance counselor with a secret, and rebellious students. But when his best option seems to be quitting, a student challenges him to begin the investigation that will change his life, and those of his students, forever...the investigation into the homicide of Jesus Christ.
Check out some of these films.  They definitely have real life aspects which will help you question and think about things – in a good way!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Like Mick, If I could be like Mick

Maybe it doesn’t have the same ring to it as Mike in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but any kid growing up in the 50’s and 60’s wanted to be like Mickey Mantle – the baseball player.  As a player, he was a 3 time MVP, a Triple Crown winner, and hit 18 home runs in the World Series.  He was also the best switch hitter of all time who hit a mammoth 565 foot homeroom!

However, off the field, he led a pretty destructive life.  Alcohol and a party time lifestyle took a toll on Mickey Mantle.   His constant drinking led to liver problems, cancer, and eventually death.  One of his most famous quotes was “God gave me everything and I blew it.  For the kids out there, don’t be like me!”  How did he change?  

What or who is responsible for the new perspective?  Bobby Richardson.  This 11 year veteran and mediocre player on the field, was a true Hall of Famer off the field and in Mickey Mantle’s life.  For 11 years, Bobby continued to be Mickey’s best friend, loving him for his good qualities and his bad, while also continue to pray with him and for him regardless of whether Mickey believed or not. On his death bed in 1995, Mickey said, “I am trusting Christ’s death for me to take me to heaven.”  

After he quit drinking, he was able to be brutally honest with himself and the world.  Richardson took this opportunity to be the best friend Mickey Mantle could have asked for. 
What does the Bible say about Friendship and never giving up? Our friends have a big influence on us.

Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived:  evil communications corrupt good manners.  

That's What Friends are For!