Sewing Hope Into Broken Hearts
Sept. 26, 2013

"My God" and Minor League Baseball

I was sitting on a tepid bleacher at Pohlman Field in Beloit, Wisconsin on the evening of September 8th, the feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, watching a Beloit Snappers playoff game. To be honest, although I’d been to Mass earlier in the day, I was paying closer attention to the foul balls than I was to the action of the Holy Spirit. At least, I was until the Snapper’s Left Fielder, Ryan Mathews, was introduced by the PA Announcer. As Ryan made his way from the on-deck circle to the batter's box, Jeremy Camp’s song “My God” blared over the speaker system; not just for his first at-bat but for all of them. To put it mildly, I was shocked.

I listen to a lot of popular contemporary Christian music, but the last place I expect to hear it is as the intro music for a professional baseball player. After all, that short clip of music for baseball players is supposed to pump up both the player and the crowd, not worship God. Some songs, like Trevor Hoffman’s theme song “Hell’s Bells,” and Mariano Rivera’s “Enter Sandman,” are iconic anthems rallying fans to lift their voices and lend their support as these elite “closers” attempt to retire the final batters of the game and preserve a win.

There are absolutely no similarities to be found when one tries to compare the atmosphere of a playoff game at Pohlman field to one at a packed Yankee Stadium. It’s like trying to compare a high school theater production to an on-Broadway musical. However, it’s not the atmosphere that caught my attention; it was the action, intention, and message. In all my years of watching baseball games in various parts of North America, I had never heard a batter stepping up to the plate to a contemporary Christian song before. At first, I thought I was mistaken: “Wait… is this song really playing?” Yes, it was; I was not dreaming. Clear as a bell the lyrics rang out “My God, You are the unchanging love. My God, Your heart sends hope from above.” My most immediate thought was “Wow! This guy has some guts.” For a 24-year-old trying to make his way up to the major leagues, Ryan Matthews was making a bold statement in today’s professional sports environment: God is first.

It is a simple statement, but it is one that is seldom made publicly and boldly. Professional Baseball has been filled, especially this year, with seemingly endless accusations of players committing the selfish and prideful act of taking performance-enhancing drugs, apparently believing they are above everyone else and the game. But not Ryan Matthews; he realizes, knows, and isn’t afraid to announce Who must be first in his life in order to have success and more importantly to maintain his integrity and character as a son of God. His style wasn’t flashy that day. Fireworks didn’t go off saying, “Look at me! Aren’t I great for playing this song?” His song simply stated the values for which he stood.

I can’t help but think about the contrast between how small an act it was and how great an impact it had on me. I am reminded by Matthews’ actions that this is how we effectively wage warfare against Satan. When the rest of the world is doing wrong, we do right. It isn’t always our concern to go around changing others’ hearts; rather, it’s our job to show the world that we are living each of our heartbeats for Christ. Leading by example is how we become humble warriors for Christ, and as we offer this to the Almighty, our God will turn hearts toward heaven.

As you step into the batter’s box, what song is playing?