Records—Baseball and Life

Records—Baseball and Life

What do the records show? It really depends on how the records were compiled.

In the 1930s and ‘40s, baseball was racially segregated. You had the Negro League statistics, as well as the Major League Baseball records, which only contained white players.

It raises the question of who had the most hits, the most home runs, the most strike outs, etc. In the last three years a 17-member panel has been vetting thousands of Negro League box scores to compile the new data for the official record books. Some of the great players like Satchel Paige, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell, and Josh Gibson were excluded from the official records.

Seventy-seven years after the death of Josh Gibson, the slugging catcher, has become baseball’s all-time batting champion! Major League Baseball decided it needed to correct what it called a “longtime oversight.” Gibson had a lifetime average of .372 while playing for the Homestead Grays, along with some other teams. That placed him ahead of Ty Cobbs’ .367 lifetime average.

People discuss how well Gibson and others would have fared had baseball not been segregated. Some people are arguing that the Negro League seasons were much shorter, and the competition was not at the same level. Gibson had only 838 verified lifetime hits and Ty Cobb had 4,191. Gibson is credited for having the highest season batting average of .466, but only had 157 at-bats in 1945. They are not putting asterisks by anyone’s name—just combining the statistics of both leagues into one record category.

I remember hearing that liars can figure, and figures can lie. It’s really hard to compare apples to apples. Kevin Blackstone contends that “the Negro Leagues were never less than major, and the white-only major leagues were not as major as we’ve mythologized them to be.”

It won’t go in the record books, but the oldest living active baseball player today is Bill Gleason who is 99 years old. He threw out the first pitch for the celebration of Negro baseball games at Rickwood Field June 20, 2024. I called him “active” because he is now a preacher at Bethel Baptist Church and preaches every Sunday! Only a preacher could throw a strike at 99 years old!

I guess the discussion will go on about who holds the greatest records in baseball. What if we were as interested in measuring how well we serve in God’s Kingdom and what would be the score if we determine how effectively we are using our gifts? We could do a lot of arguing about that, but the final authority for any records of the Christian faith rest solely with God. His records are not debatable, and you are measured not by who will receive the greatest honors, but who gave the most to God’s Kingdom.

 His records are not based on how much we get, but how much we give. His records are not based on how many homeruns we have, but on how many people we have helped come home. His records are not about how many strike outs we have, but how many bases we have helped people advance.

The most important score card reveals whether or not we struck out in following Him, how many people we carry home with us for eternity—are we winning or losing?

What is your record?

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