Baseball Theology April 2002

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children,
the father of one of the school's students delivered a speech. After extolling
the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question.
"Everything God does is done with perfection. Yet, my son, Shay, cannot
learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other
children do. Where is God's plan reflected in my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. "I believe,"
the father answered, "that when God brings a child like Shay into the world,
an opportunity to realize the Divine Plan presents itself. And it comes in
the way people treat that child."

Then, he told the following story: Shay and his father had walked past a
park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you
think they will let me play?" Shay's father knew that most boys would not
want him on their team. But the father understood that if his son were
allowed to play it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging.

Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay
could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting
none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "We are losing by six
runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team
and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning." In the bottom of
the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by

At the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the
outfield. Although no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to
be on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from
the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two
outs and bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base. Shay was
scheduled to be the next at-bat. Would the team actually let Shay bat at
this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but
impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much
less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the
pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least
be able to make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward
Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground
ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could
easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out
and that would have ended the game.

Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right
field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling,
"Shay, run to first. Run to first." Never in his life had Shay ever made it
to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled "Run to second, run to second!" By the time Shay was
rounding first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown
the ball to the second baseman for a tag. But the right fielder understood
what the pitcher's intentions had been, so he threw the ball high and far
over the third baseman's head. Shay ran towards second base as the runners
ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home.

As Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him
in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third!" As Shay rounded
third, the boys from both teams were screaming, "Shay! Run home!" Shay ran
home, stepped on home plate and was cheered as the hero, for hitting a
"grand slam" and winning the game for his team.

"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face,
"the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of the Divine Plan into this

Reported by Professor Al Hiebert, Briercrest, (