Minor League Baseball

Brothers and sisters,

A couple of friends of mine and I have an interesting hobby. We don’t get to take part in it very often together, but when we do we always have a blast. We enjoy going to minor league baseball games together. Just about every year for the last three years, we have gone to a minor league game to celebrate my birthday. The first two years we went to see the Durham Bulls and had a wonderful time. Both years they played and beat the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp! We enjoy going to see them, but there’s another layer to our new hobby that the Bulls don’t quite measure up to.

My friends and I love to go to minor league baseball games, but specifically if the team has a funny/ridiculous mascot. Where they live, my friends go to see the Frederick Keys (named after Francis Scott Key) or the Spire City Ghost Hounds. But did you know that right here in North Carolina, we have teams like the Burlington Sock Puppets? Look them up—their mascot is amazing! Or, even better, Winston-Salem hosts a summer collegiate team known as the Carolina Disco Turkeys—I will be spending far too much money on their merch!
Last week, my friends and I made the trip over to see my hometown team, the Down East Wood Ducks, whose mascot is a wood duck carrying a gnarled tree branch like a baseball bat—I love it! Only, we didn’t see the Wood Ducks that night. We saw Los Avocadoes Luchadores de Down East—the team’s alternate mascot, which is half an avocado wearing a luchador mask and flexing his biceps. But in the store at Grainger Stadium, you could buy merch for their other alternate mascot, the Kinston Collard Greens—an old-timey baseball player with collard green leaves for a beard. Now, the game was mostly good. Heading into the top of the 8th, it was tied 3-3, but after a disastrous top of the 8th involving four errors, the Avocadoes were down 8-3 to the Salem Red Sox (what a lame mascot!) and never recovered. But my friends and I had a great time catching up, watching the ball game, eating surprisingly good stadium food, and en-joying the people-watching that goes along with baseball. It was a wonderful night, perfectly timed.

Now, why write about this in a church newsletter? Is it just to send web traffic toward the Disco Turkeys or the Wood Ducks? No. This week reminded me of all the many different identities all of us have. We are sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, wives, husbands, friends, colleagues, customers, fans, etc. We all have unique ways that we interact with the world around us, unique ways we speak to one another. But I also wanted to remind us all that we have specific, unique ways we care for one another and show each other love. Some of us cook amazing food and offer it freely. Some of us are quick to hop in the car and carry folks from place to place. Some of us send cards or emails, make phone calls or house visits.

Regardless of who God has made you to be—and God has made you to be uniquely you—God has given you a unique, special way to show your love and appreciation for others. You have been loved by God in your own unique, special way. So, embrace the gifts and talents God has given to you.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben