A couple of weeks ago I found the sign up date for kid's baseball this summer here in Woodstock for my two oldest boys. So yesterday I loaded them up in the car and headed to Sports Authority to buy some real baseball gloves. After getting a good fit and taking a few minutes to soak up the smell of leather, we grabbed three gloves (one for each of the boys and one for me). We also bought a couple of regulation baseballs.
We came home and de-tagged, went outside and started to play catch. At that moment I realized I have never taught anyone to play catch with gloves that catch and balls that can hurt. My kids are all experts at wiffle ball and Nerf stuff. But this is the real deal.
So we formed a triangle, I told them to hold their gloves out face up, and I started under-handing the ball to them. They missed most of the first 20 throws, but every time one would catch the ball it was a triumph. Then they progressively started catching more, and more. All the while I was also teaching them the proper way to throw by pushing off with their right leg while shifting their weight over their left.
Then just before it was time to come inside for the night I decided to toss the ball a little too close to my oldest son's face. He missed the ball, but the ball didn't miss him. It popped him on the lower lip which was punctured by his lower teeth drawing plenty of blood, a swollen lip, and a few tears (his upper teeth fell out naturally, I didn't throw it that hard!).
After comforting my son and putting the kids to bed 30 minutes later I realized that the hour I spent playing baseball with my boys wasn't just a great time with my kids, or just a proud moment as a dad. That would have been enough. But it was also an hour of training at the McCoy Missional Learning Center (MMLC).
I'm teaching my kids how to do something they can love that will put them on teams with other kids, and those kids have families, and some of those families don't have Jesus. And the only physical distance between us and them can be bridged by "Play ball" and "Batter up" and "Atta boy" and "That's my son, at third base. Which one is yours?" and "Good to meet you. We'll see you at next week's game."