I had the opportunity to help out Jeff (Day #164) and The Mystery Hour prepare for a taping. I’m a fan of learning about life behind-the-scenes, whether watching chefs cook or listening to musicians practice or eavesdropping on conversations between a bench coach, hitting coach, and a manager. After an hour of lifting and sweating and learning about set design while smashing fingers and straining my back, I was on my way to meet Cody for catch.
Cody is the General Manager of the Queen City Crush, an FCA-sponsored baseball team that plays in the Show Me Collegiate League, a 40-game wood-bat summer league with games at U. S. Ballpark. Earlier this summer, I shagged flies with the Crush during batting practice and sat in on a pre-game devotional from the manager before playing catch with Logan (Day #208). Behind-the-scenes learning.
Cody played on an FCA team in the New York Collegiate Baseball League the summer after his sophomore year in college.
“I played for the Niagara Power and walked away with my life transformed. That summer was the first opportunity I was challenged to really live out my faith. I grew as a baseball player, playing with and against competition I wouldn’t typically have. But more importantly, the league provided an opportunity for me to grow in relationship with Jesus and in relationship with other baseball players. I’m still friends with several guys from that summer.”
Once he graduated college, Cody knew he wanted to create an FCA baseball team. He just didn’t know it would only be two years into his job. This past season was the Crush’s first season in the local league and they finished in a respectable second place.
“I really wanted 25 guys on the team, but we only had 18. Those 18 guys were great, though, just great.”
Cody last played catch with the team this summer, shagging flies during batting practice just like I did. He played collegiate baseball at the College of the Ozarks, a left-handed centerfielder who threw the ball perfectly straight.
“I never had any movement. I tried to pitch a couple times and it didn’t work out. Instead of working on my pitches, I worked on my pickoff move. I’d walk a guy on four pitches, then pick him off first base. Then I’d walk the next guy on four pitches, and pick him off first base.”
Cody’s experience as GM echoed the lessons he learned as a player in New York. “It’s all about relationships. I was regularly reminded of the quote, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much care.’ That’s truly where we saw success happen this summer with our baseball guys. Walls were broken down in lives throughout the league when they understood we were about more than just baseball. This season really was a success because we were able to see collegiate baseball players use their platform to share their faith and grow as men and leaders, serving in our community.”
I asked for a peek behind the scenes, trying to learn what all the GM of a summer league does. Cody laughed. And then shook his head and laughed some more.
“Everything. There’s not a quick list on that. Absolutely everything.”
He’s already working on next summer’s team, looking for players and host homes and restaurants who’ll serve pre-game team meals and figuring out the logistics of transportation and organizing details of team service projects and securing a few financial sponsors. I’m already brainstorming for ways I can help the team as well as work in a few games of catch and chasing down fly balls.
I came home from catch and there was an oddly-shaped package in my mailbox. Wrapped like Russian nesting dolls inside three envelopes and tissue paper was a small box, “Bamboo Coaster Set.”
I opened the box and each coaster was signed by an All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player. These coasters will never hold a can of Dr Pepper. I plan on asking Sophie for her help in designing a way to artfully preserve them.