Two hours before game time, I was the only person in the stands at U. S. Ballpark.
“Are you the guy?” Logan asked.
When I laughed and answered in the affirmative, he came over and shook my hand and welcomed me. Logan was helping set up the field for batting practice. I know how heavy a couple bags of baseballs can get and didn’t want to exhaust his forearm muscles. As soon as he left to fill up the basket by the mound with beat-up baseballs, a steady stream of Queen City Crush players entered the stadium and walked on to the field and echoed Logan’s question.
Lots of handshakes and introductions followed.
Coach Luke from Nebraska visited with me and gave me permission to shag flies during batting practice.
“When you see the guys on the field, just go ahead and join them. They’re expecting you.”
The Queen City Crush are sponsored by Fellowship of Christian Athletes and play in the Show-Me Collegiate League, a 40-game wood-bat league. Tanner and Austin and Logan and Josh and Brian from New Jersey all visited with me as I tried to track and chase down fly ball after fly ball.
Cody, the GM for the team, told me the story of recruiting players from nine different states for this first season. He had played on an FCA team when he was in college. Doing the hard work necessary to create this baseball team has been a natural extension of his faith.
The Crush have team devotionals before the game. Coach Luke shared his story of wrestling with God’s plan this summer, encouraging the players who would be in his shoes in just a few years making life-changing decisions.
“It starts with getting your priorities in order. Faith. Family. Pursuing your gifts and passions for God’s glory.”
I seriously hope God can use a catch-player to bring some joy and hope into this world.
After the devotional, Logan volunteered to play catch with me during warm-ups. I had to look quite ridiculous in shorts and high-tops while the team wore their sharp navy jerseys. Logan was wearing sweet tall socks — tall socks are the best, period. Playing shortstop tonight, Logan’s knuckleball was incredible. I stayed on the right field line as he worked his way out past centerfield. Heaven is the simple joy of shagging flies and long toss.
Is this heaven?
After each game, the Crush gather at the mound to pray, extending an invitation to the opposing team. And, following home games, one of the Queen City Crush shares their faith story. Tonight, Logan was preparing to share his story of how God can do great things through broken people. He told me the short version after we played catch. His story reminded me of one of my favorite verses.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4.7)
The Crush are in a good position for the playoffs that start next Wednesday. I plan on being there to cheer on the team. If they win tonight, maybe they’ll let me shag flies again.