Sunday, June 4, 2017

Billy Martin and the Christ

One great gift I have received in my life was Great Baseball Writing, a compendium of articles from over the years at Sports Illustrated. Not that the other gifts weren't great. Only this one spoke to my soul.

Reading about the icons of my sport, baseball, well, it's a treasure. And this book made me realize something I had not known before.

I love Billy Martin.

Yes, that Billy Martin. You baseball wonks out there, you know him. The firebrand manager who transformed teams into more than they were. His fisticuffs and carousing are more well known, but his managerial skill was nothing short of amazing. Incredible. Fantastic. Inexplicable.

In the book is an article penned by Frank Deford from June 1975. In it, Martin through Deford spoke of the best things about people. He spoke of their commitment to all the best things, things which transcend mere sports and games. He spoke of Jesus, the Christ.

Did you know that before he accepted a managerial job with the Texas Rangers, after the Detroit Tigers unceremoniously fired him, he spend two hours in Church praying to God for guidance? Do you know what he (Martin) said about that man?

He said, and I quote, "And anyway, temper is a wonderful thing, if you can control it and it doesn't control you. Jesus Christ took a whip to the money changers, right? Well, that's a temper, and that's not a bad guy to follow".

The Jesus with a temper. You might recall that He condemned the fig tree simply because He was hungry and it wouldn't give Him fruit.

Think about that. And then ask yourself, which sermon you will remember later today? This one? Or the one you actually heard in Church?

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