Missing First Base

First Base

We’ve come through another series of the exciting sports event of World Series Baseball. Once claiming the title of America’s Greatest Sport, still held by many, thousands love to watch two teams battle for the title. There is one great story of this event we need to remember.

“In 1924 the World Series, the New York Giants and the Washington Senators were tied after six games. Griffith Stadium in Washington was packed for the final game on October 10, 1924. At the beginning of the ninth inning the score was tied at three runs each.

New York didn’t score any runs and Washington came to bat. The home team fans screamed for one lone run, which would win the series and the world championship for the Senators. The first two men made outs and it looked like there would be extra innings. Then a player named Leon ‘Goose’ Goslin came to the plate.

Two strikes were called and then two balls. The crowd was watching every pitch. On the fifth pitch, Goslin stepped into the ball and slammed it to left center field. The crowd became delirious; it looked like a home run, but it hit inches below the top of the wall and fell back onto the field of play.

Goslin was running around the bases, slowing down for a triple when the third base coach waved him on to try for an in-park home run. The shortstop took the peg from left center and fired the ball to the catcher. Goslin slid into home in a cloud of dust, seemingly a split second before the tag. The catcher followed the routine of throwing the ball around the bases, just in case, while waiting for the umpire to make the call. The umpire delayed his call. After consulting with the other umpires he cried, ‘You’re out!’

Washington player/manager, Bucky Harris, along with his team and fans rushed onto the field, protesting the call. The umpire secured order and announced, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the batter is out…not because he didn’t beat the ball at home plate but because he didn’t touch first base!’ The players were always required to touch each base with their foot as they rounded the bases. Goslin didn’t do this!

The game went into extra innings. In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Early McNeely hit an infield ground ball that should have been an easy out. The ball took a bounce over the third baseman’s glove into left field. That was enough to score Washington catcher Ruel from third base with the winning run. It was the first World Championship Washington won. What a World Series.”

Angel Martinez, colorful and well known Hispanic evangelist from San Antonio, Texas, remembered this World Series story in his special message “Play Ball.”

He said First base represented “Salvation.” Second base represented “Baptism and Church Membership.” Third base stood for “Christian Service.” And Home plate was “Heaven.”

Martinez said you think you’re doing all the right things and believe you are sliding into home plate just ahead of the catcher receiving the ball. You’re safe. The game is won.

Identification in Baptism and Church Membership (Second Base) and outreach and service through Evangelism (Third Base) are very important and wonderful. But reaching Heaven (Home Plate) will not be what is expected if Salvation (First Base) has not been touched.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life…For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit…But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord…Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” [John 3:16; I Peter 3:18; Isaiah 53:5-6; Acts 16:31; Romans 6:23; Revelation 3:20]

Getting up to bat, hitting the ball and running the bases won’t count if you miss First Base. We may look like we’ve made it Home. But the Umpire Who sees it all and knows we must play by the rules will call us “out.”

John Henry Newman said, “Fear not your life shall have an ending, rather fear it shall never have a beginning.” That’s First Base…that’s salvation.

Till next time, Don Johnson, Kirby Pines Chaplain