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Focusing on the good stuff: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
Friday, March 5, 2021 by Joe Herman

Against a background of green grass, one boy tags another boy out at the base. The boy sliding into the base wears a white batter’s helmet, white pants, maroon baseball team t-shirt and maroon knee socks. The baseman tagging him looks both determined and businesslike. He has curly blond hair and wears a black baseball cap with a matching black baseball team t-shirt, grey short pants and red knee socks. I’ll never forget the time I hit a grand slam with my dad.

I loved playing baseball as a kid. I always felt extra special when my dad came to the games. One game and one day was particularly memorable. It was Father’s Day. I was in the starting lineup, and it was time to show off. Everything was perfect. Maybe I would go three for three; maybe two for three, or maybe hit a home run and maybe, just maybe, a home run with the bases loaded – a grand slam!

A perfect day gone wrong

But my first two times at bat, I struck out. 0 for 2. I was worried. Would I get another chance to redeem myself?

I did. When I came up to bat the third time, my teammates were on base. It was my chance to get a hit and drive in those runs. But…strike one…strike two…then, a hitter always knows when he makes contact. In that split second, a hitter knows it’s going to be a hit… A hitter also knows a split second later when it’s a pop out…in the infield.

It was an extra high pop out. And it was the third out, too. I had failed to get a hit, had failed to drive the runners in, had gone 0 for 3, and had failed in front of my dad. As I headed to the bench, the players were saying, “Boy, what a major league pop out!”

It was a struggle, but I had to play the infield the next inning. I felt terrible and couldn’t think about anything but the strike outs and the pop out and a perfect day, gone wrong. I was playing third base, wishing I could have another chance and not paying much attention, when the other team’s best hitter came to bat.

The rocket ball

He hit the ball hard on one or two hops toward me. It seemed like a rocket approaching. The ball came so fast to my right, I didn’t have time to catch the ball in my glove. So I caught it in my bare hand. Ouch!

Coach always said, “Throw to first!” As I started to throw, I lost feeling in my hand and started to drop the ball. So I brought my other hand with the glove to keep the ball from touching the ground. Then I noticed the runner from second coming toward me. I tagged the runner out as he slid into me.

It must have looked good, because everyone congratulated me, even the other team’s coaches.

The game ended. I’m not sure who won or lost. I remember getting accolades about the “major league pop out” and “that play at third base.” My only concern was what Dad would say…no home run, no double, no hits.

What will Dad say?

I’ll always remember exactly what he said in the car on the way home: “That was a great play at third base.”

I said thanks.

Dad made no mention of anything except the play at third base. I felt relieved and proud. Dad saw the good thing I did. That day, I felt I had hit a grand slam with my Dad.

Today, 30 years later, my dad has continued to overlook the strike outs and compliment me instead on the “good things.”

Today, I still love baseball and my dad…and respect third basemen. Ouch!

Worth repeating: The Bible says, "Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about" (Phil 4:8 TLB).

Today’s prayer: "Dear God, I’m sorry for focusing on negative things. Help me to look for something positive in hard situations and find something good in other people. From now on I choose to think on things that are lovely and true. Amen."

First © Joe Herman 1998


The story behind Joe Herman’s story:

At his mother’s request, Joe Herman originally wrote this tribute to his father, Don Herman, as a contribution to the community writing project “1998: Year of the Family.” The project published a family-strengthening story in the El Paso Times every day in 1998. Joe’s story was later republished in, and is reprinted with permission from, the book My Roots Go Back to Loving and other stories from Year of the Family. Don Herman died of cancer three years after his son’s tribute was published.

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