The home run trot. There is something rather grand about it, in part because, on the face of it, the home run trot seems unnecessary. I have sometimes wondered why, after hitting a home run, the hitter can’t just walk back to the dugout and be congratulated by his teammates. But there is this huge symbolism attached to touching ’em all that says, “I did it!” It gives the player a chance to bask in the glory of the moment. To feel the accomplishment of greatness in a very singular way. The slow jog that says, “I don’t have to be in a hurry, because home plate is already guaranteed!” No other sport really has anything like it—a celebration of achievement that is actually woven into the fabric of the game. While the NFL often penalizes touchdown celebrations and basketball has too many scores in a game to pause and celebrate any of them, baseball makes it part of the game itself. But, I think at least in part, this may have to do with the fact that (apart from a penalty kick in soccer), there is nothing in team sports that rivals the individual competition of a pitcher against a hitter; and when the hitter wins the ultimate victory by hitting a home run, you get to touch ’em all in celebration. The home run trot is part of what makes baseball so charming.
It is a fact, however, that in life we don’t get to take many victory laps. We don’t experience a ton of home run trots; and, when we try to, it can seem terribly self-promoting. If we attempt to celebrate our successes in the wrong way, it can send a message that we view ourselves as better than others or more talented or more self-sufficient. And, in fact, we may actually harbor those thoughts ourselves. But if we do, we have missed the point. We desperately need to keep our successes in perspective. Jesus said, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
And James reminds us that:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17).
I find those Scriptures most instructive, especially when it comes to the matter of keeping our successes in perspective. Anything good that we accomplish is by the grace, presence, and strength of Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us. Any achievements we may enjoy are good and perfect gifts given to us by our heavenly Father. That means that our moments of success—no matter how rare or momentary they may be—are not reasons for a self-congratulatory home run trot. They are cause for celebrating the goodness of our God. As the psalmist put it:
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him (Psalm 28:7).
How does this all come about? By what we celebrate this weekend—the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. As we solemnly remember the suffering of Christ on the cross and celebrate the victory of Christ over the grave, may we give thanks for this, our heavenly Father’s truly unspeakable gift—the gift of Jesus.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain