Take Me Out to the Ball Game

By:
Ken Shaw

Take me out to the ball game.
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,

 

I love baseball!  While growing up in east Tennessee, my friends and I followed the newest and nearest major baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. Since not many of the games were accessible to view through our rabbit ears antenna, adorned with aluminum foil, sitting precariously on our small black & white TV, we kept track of the wins, losses, pitching and batting stats from the local newspaper and during the local TV news’ 5-minute sports update. 

During the 1969-1970 season, my dad and several of my friends’ parents had the inspiring idea of taking us to an Atlanta Braves baseball game.  For several weeks prior to the game, that is all we could talk about. The 270 miles between our town and the newly built Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta seemed like a blur.  Walking into this magnificent stadium was breathtaking; we had never been in any structure so large.  As we walked to our seats, we surveyed the beautiful baseball diamond and the grass perfectly manicured in the outfield.  We observed players such as Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, Sonny Jackson, and Felipe Alou and admired knuckleballer pitcher, Phil Niekro, strike out the side many times with pitches that just baffled hitters.  We indulged on Cracker Jack, popcorn, and cotton candy. What a treat it was for us kids to see the Atlanta Braves in person and continue to follow them as they won that National League’s Western Division with a record of 93 wins and 69 losses. I still have a warm place in my heart for the Braves.

This season, and much closer to home, it is exciting to see that the Cleburne Railroaders are back on the field.  At the time of this writing, they have a winning record.  What a nice benefit for the community!  I also had a wonderful opportunity to be with friends and enjoyed watching the Texas Rangers defeat the Seattle Mariners 5-3.  

I have thought a lot about baseball recently, as the season is in full swing, and have realized that batters and university students have a lot in common.  

Successful batters and students “keep their eye on the ball.”  They concentrate on every pitch they receive and on every assignment that is given.  

Successful batters and students strike out.  Failures happen on the field and in the classroom.  

Successful batters and students learn from their mistakes.  They strive harder not to fail again.

Successful batters and students aim for the fences.  They set goals to increase their batting average and raise their GPA.

Successful batters and students exhibit a great work ethic. They do important exercises that improve their game and strengthen their skills.

Successful batters and students deal with pressure.  Whether it is a batter being called up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied game with bases loaded, or a student facing a comprehensive final exam worth 50% of the semester’s grade, the pressure is on, and they must remain focused in order to do their best.

Successful batters and students continue even when they are fatigued and tired.

While it has been decades since attending my first ball game, the sights, smells, and sounds of that early experience stick with me until this day.  Whether I am cheering for our athletic teams, drafting a new strategic plan with colleagues, or volunteering alongside students on community projects, I am reminded of the valuable lessons from baseball that apply nicely to life in general and specifically to the university experience here at Southwestern Adventist University.  Maybe that’s why I love baseball!

Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.

This article is an opinion piece written by President Shaw for the Cleburne Times Review