A Simple Mistake… A Great Loss

Baseball Game

Do you remember the Baseball World Series of 1941. It was an unforgettable contest between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Let’s revisit that time.

The Yankees won the first game of the series by a score of 3-2. Brooklyn returned the favor in the 2nd game with a score of 3-2. The Yankees took the third game 2-1. In the 4th game, the Dodgers were ahead 4-3 at the top of the 9th inning and looked like they would tie the series. The Yankees had two outs and Tommy Henrich was at bat with three balls and 2 strikes. Henrich swung at the next pitch but missed the ball. This should have ended the game, but the Dodger catcher, Mickey Owen, dropped the ball. It hit the heel of his mitt and rolled toward the Dodgers dugout. Henrich ran to first base before Owen could retrieve the ball. Next at bat was ‘Joltin Joe’ DiMaggio. The Yankees scored four runs in the final inning and won the game 7-4. This gave them a 3-1 lead in the series. The next day in game 5 the Yankees beat the Dodgers 3-1 and won the 1941 Baseball World Series. Some attribute the Yankee win and the Dodger loss to that moment when Mickey Owen dropped the ball. Though he lived to 2005 he could never get away from that fatal mistake in the 1941 World Series. The New York Times obituary was titled, “Mickey Owen dies at 89, Allowed Fateful Passed Ball.” Even in his death he could not escape the results of his 1941 game 4 error.

Some trace the origin of the phrase “dropped the ball” to Mickey and this event.

Often we are all like Mickey Owen. How many dropped balls have been a part of our experience. Mistakes, though unintentional, have had damaging results. Sometimes it has been less monumental. Other times it has been catastrophic. It has been the difference between winning and losing. In some instances, the difference between life and death.

Our actions are vitally important? An opportunity comes…and goes…because we drop the ball. A relationship, once so special, falls apart because we drop the ball. A life-changing step is never taken because we drop the ball. Someone needing our help is disappointed because we drop the ball.

Baseball Game TicketFinancially, career-wise, relational and in many other areas we can easily drop the ball. It’s also true in the spiritual realm. Look at the story in Matthew 22:35-40, “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” Jesus was paraphrasing the words from the Jewish Torah. When we consider His challenge it must be evident that we all have dropped the ball.

There is time to correct our great mistake. Admit our failure, get back in the game and play with God-given energy what lies before us. We never know when our series may end so let’s be all that God wants us to be. We can begin now to be more focused, to be on top of our actions, and to hold onto the ball when it comes our way.

The words of Hebrews 12:2 can guide us: “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily entraps us, and let us run with patience the race before us.”

Till next time, Don Johnson, Kirby Pines Chaplain