Keeping records is often at the core of some people’s lives. Accountants keep meticulous records. That’s why I am not one. Our court systems keep and store volumes of records. Police departments and emergency medical squads I have served on carefully record all that we do. The FBI, like all law enforcement entities, keeps records on people. Since I attended college in the 1960’s and was involved in student politics, I assume the FBI has a file on me somewhere in a dusty old file cabinet in Washington.
Do you remember your “Permanent Record”? Every time I got into trouble in school, which was often, some austere school official would announce to me that my misbehavior would be recorded on my permanent record. I had some questions then and have them now. What permanent record? Who has the authority to make notes on my record? Where is my permanent record kept? When I die does is it forwarded to God for our conversation about my life? Can I see my permanent record so I can prepare my defense?
I am amazed at the detailed records kept by the powers that be in baseball. While watching my Cincinnati Reds play on television, the announcers come up with an alphabet soup of statistic. Years ago they displayed the player’s batting average. That was it. Now we are made aware of his OBP (On Base Percentage), RBIs (Runs Batted In), SP (Slugging Percentage (percentage of extra base hits)), home runs hit, batting average before the All Star break, batting average in each month of the season, his hometown, family history and on and on. Good Lord, TMI.
And then a relief pitcher is put in and here come the statistics again: Innings pitched, won-loss record, batting average of opponents, ERA (Earned Run Average), Opponent On-base Plus Slugging (OOPS), Innings Pitched (IP) Strikeouts per nine innings (K/9IP), Strikeouts per walk 9K/BB), Home runs per nine innings (HR/9), walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) and more I can’t think of at the moment. It is just a severe case of overkill.
In baseball there are batting statistics; pitching statistics; base running statistics; fielding statistics; overall player value and general statistics. I found over 100 different baseball statistics. Though I had not heard of it before I was doing research for this blog, my new favorite baseball statistic is: pNERD – Pitcher's NERD: expected aesthetic pleasure of watching an individual pitcher. What is that? A cute pitcher index?
In light of my problematic Permanent Record, I am pleased to announce that somewhere I have a perfect record. In the 1956 St. Matthews, Kentucky, National League Little League record books I have a perfect 1-0 won-loss pitching record. One win and no losses. Perfect.
As I mentioned previously, the first team that picked me to play for them was the Kiwanis Club. After one practice they un-picked me and I was crushed. Soon I was picked up by Lincoln Income and played first base for them. Since my older brother, Bob, was a more than outstanding pitcher, everyone assumed I, too, would be a great pitcher. They were wrong; I wasn’t. Like Bob, I was left handed. Like Bob, I had a large, intimidating windup. Like Bob, I had three pitches I could throw. His were a blazing fastball, a wicked curveball and a slider. Mine were a slow fastball, a slower fastball and a slowest fastball. Besides throwing fluff balls to the plate, I had absolutely no control. If I happened to somehow throw a strike they might stop the game and present me with the ball.
In the context of the preceding information, picture this. It was the third or fourth game of the season and we were sporting a perfect record. Next team on the schedule was Kiwanis Club… the team that had cut me… had devastated me. As the team gathered to warm up and for some infield practice, I walked out to first base. I was surprised when Mr. Weatherby called me back to the dugout. I was guessing he thought it would be too emotionally taxing to face the team that rejected me so early in the season. Instead, he put his arm around my shoulder, walked me out toward the outfield and said, “I want you to pitch today and want you to beat these bastards.” (He was not politically correct.) And then he smiled the biggest, warmest smile I had ever seen on his face and said, “Go warm up.” That was it. As he walked back to home plate to begin infield practice I just stood there thinking. Had he lost his mind? What was he thinking? We all knew I couldn’t pitch. It was a sure loss. As I stood there I finally understood what he was doing. He was giving me the chance to make the coach of Kiwanis Club regret cutting. Up until that point in our relationship I respected Mr. Weatherby and appreciated his coaching skills. But in that moment of understanding what he was up to, I loved Mr. Weatherby.
In Little League we played six inning games. Things went well the first two innings because the other team members came to the plate thinking they were facing my brother’s screaming fastball. The swung way ahead of my “fastball”; sometimes before it had left my hand. I had a windup that looked just like brother Bob’s, but that is where the similarity ended. After they figured out how bad I really was, the game became controlled chaos. They beat the living hell out of everything I threw up to the plate. Fortunately, nobody was able to hit the ball over the fence. But they hit the ball all over the field. But my teammates were on fire. They chased down fly balls, dove for grounders, threw runners out trying to take extra bases. Late in the game came the play of the game. That was when one of their biggest, most experienced players stepped into one of my ever slowing fastballs and hit a bullet to third base. Our third baseman, Rusty Holtzhimer, hardly had time to move a muscle. The ball, traveling approximately 10,000 miles per hour, screamed directly at his head. In a move I still remember, his gloved hand speared the ball less than an inch from his face. It was a play that resulted in ending the inning and saving Rusty’s life.
It was like that the entire game. One amazing play on top of another. If I believed God cared about games, I would have thought God rigged the game. It was amazing. We won six to nothing. The worst pitcher in the league not only won that game, but I threw a shutout. It was a miracle.
As I said, Mr. Weatherby was a great coach. Thus, he never asked me to pitch again. So, there you have it – a perfect record. Take that, you permanent record keepers.
Copyright © 2016, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.