It was the bottom of the 8th inning. The Texas Rangers were playing at home against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a new expansion team based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Royce Clayton was the next Texas hitter.Jim Morris, a 35-year-old rookie, was warming up in the bullpen. He had suited up for his first game in the major leagues. A few months before, Morris was a high school science teacher in Big Lake, Texas. Improbably, the bullpen call came for Jimmy Morris. When he took the mound, and fired four pitches at Clayton, each ball traveled faster than 95 miles an hour.
Some might think the moment was the stuff of fairy tales. Except in real life, fairy tales don’t “just happen.” They usually follow years of disappointment and hard work. And some might think that fairy tales require a “happily ever after” ending. They usually do. Except in real life, heroes of a story often have their own definitions for that term.
What Jim Morris hadn’t counted on was how much time a professional baseball player actually spends in the minor league – or what his life is like while he’s there. He found out soon enough when his Brewers roommate filled him in. Morris describes the enlightening conversation in The Oldest Rookie:
…I didn’t know the minor-league system from astrogeology…I learned that the lowest level of play was rookie ball, and that if you played well there you were sent to either low-A ball or high-A ball, depending on whether you did really well. After that came double-A, then triple-A, then the big show – the major leagues.
In other words, just because he was recruited by the Brewers, and was paid a $35,000 signing bonus, didn’t mean Morris had a slot on the Milwaukee team. The hard reality? He might never have a place on the team! His buddy, Tom Candiotti, explained why:
It can take years – five, six, eight, even ten years or more. And most guys never make it at all. Major-league rosters are only twenty-five players, and every year a lot of new guys try to take their place.
So what were Jimmy’s chances of actually pitching for the Brewers?
By the time you’ve made it to the top, you’re standing on a couple of thousand dead bodies, all of whom had the same dream you did and no idea what to do with their lives if that dream didn’t come true. Fewer than one percent of those drafted ever make the big leagues.
Jimmy realized he probably wouldn’t be in Milwaukee the year he was drafted by the Brewers. You can read the rest of the story here.
Perhaps Jimmy’s story is revealing our own story of faith.
Forgive the analogy, but far too many of us are “drafted” at a young age into the journey of faith and then quit, retire, walk away, become injured, you name it.
Perhaps that is why Jesus said, Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven Matthew 7:21 NIV
Faith, not unlike baseball, is a journey of persistence.
Do not be discouraged.
God has chosen you to be on His team.
Now you must do the work to prove yourself faithful because one day, the Manager will call your name and hopefully He will be able to say of your life, “Well done …”
See you Sunday … game time is 9:30 am …