August 11, 2016
I’m repeating a series on Baseball and Elohim. This is my essay I posted on the Babe’s birthday.
Happy Babe Ruth’s Birthday!
On Saturday, February 6th, 2016, we’ll be celebrating the 121st Anniversary of The Bambino’s Birth.
Now, I hear a lot of people are having their “Sultan of Swat Soirees” on Sunday – I’m assuming they either forgot which day was his birthday (thinking it was the 7th, not the actual day, the 6th), or people had plans on Saturday and more people were available to salute the Babe’s Day on Sunday.
Anyway – take it easy with the “Hot Dog Eating Contests”! It’s an appropriate way to honor George Herman Ruth, Jr., but there no need to get a “Giant Belly-Ache.”
OK – I’m just kidding about celebrating Babe Ruth’s Birthday. There’s only ONE birthday we should honor as a society (yes – we should celebrate family and friends’ birthdays… there’s nothing wrong with giving loving attention to others to commemorate the day they were born… but not others not in those categories) – that’s what we do on Christmas. I actually would rather see us honor His birthday, the birthday of Jesus (Yeshua ha Mashiach) on the actual day He was most likely born. That would be the first of the Hebrew month of Nisan. You’ll have to watch Jonathan Cahn’s development of this on one of his videos, but Jesus, the Passover Lamb for all who would ever put their trust in Him, was almost surely born on the exact same day when all Passover Lambs were born. This year, the 1st of Nisan is on the 9th of April, 2016.
So – why did I bring up the Babe, then? Well, other than the fact that it IS actually his birthday on February 6th… and a lot of people are having parties over the weekend (who knows why?), I wanted to examine his life and see some odd truths.
As I’ve mentioned a number of times recently, the God of the Bible, Elohim, is in control of all events in the universe. We call it “His Providential Control.” And, if we pay attention to things that go on in the world: in our lives and in the lives of everybody else, we can see His hand at work. We can glorify Him for what He does, and how He reveals Himself. Yahweh, His covenant name, is alive and well – and active, revealing Himself to us in many ways.
So, I have discovered His hand of power in Baseball History. Why should God care about sports? Because we do – we care about sports. And if He reveals Himself in nature (which He does), and He reveals Himself in human history (which He does), why should He not reveal Himself in sports. He does.
How do I know? Anybody who knows me will testify that I kinda like baseball. OK – I’ve been obsessed with it since my first Phillies’ game in August of 1966. just before my 10th Birthday. Both my books (a novel titled “The Fourth Apple Tree” and a book of baseball devotionals titled, “On the Field of Life”) are heavy with our TRUE National Pastime. Babe Ruth is easily the greatest baseball player whoever lived. (Sorry, Teddy Baseball, but how many Major League games did YOU win as a pitcher? The Babe won 92). I have expanded on that before, but there’s even more to it than just the numbers. Not only did he single-handedly change the way the game is played, but he saved probably all of Professional Sports by making people quickly forget the most tragic moment in sports history, the Black Sox Scandal of 1919.
There are many intriguing things about George Herman Ruth, Jr. There were certainly bad things: he was a legendary drinker; he was a legendary glutton; he was a legendary womanizer; he treated his first wife, Helen, very badly (he basically abandoned her); he smoked cigars; he was crude (there are some legendary stories about that, too). He had a foul mouth; he was arrogant and rude. He was also very kind and giving. He loved many, many of the people who surrounded him. He loved his second wife, Claire, and was a good father to his two daughters. To many people, even today, he was a total contradiction: he could be very bad, but he could also be very good.
And there’s something else: he was a blessed individual.
Now, why do I say that? Not just because of his success on the baseball field. Not just because “he made more money than the President of the United States one year because “he had a better season.” Not just that his actions on the field ignited the old record book and rewrote it. Not just because nobody hit a baseball like him. It was because of how you count success in sports – his teams won Championships.
Count ‘em: his Red Sox teams won 3 World Series while he played for them (in 1915, 1916, and 1918) and his Yankee teams won 4 (1923, 1927, 1928, and 1932). He played for a team considered by many to be the Greatest Team ever assembled, the 1927 “Murderer’s Row” team. He electrified that team by hitting an outrageous 60 home runs.
He not only blessed the teams he played for, however. How he was treated also caused four teams – count ‘em – to be cursed.
Cursed? Yes, cursed. Always remember: the devil can throw curses, but when Elohim curses a team, it sticks. He told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you; I will curse them who curse you”; that extends to this day to the blessed children of Abraham, the Jews. There are reasons to believe that the Bambino had Jewish blood (and therefore God blessed him), but it’s not clear (yet) that that’s the case. Yes – at least four teams were cursed because of how they treated Ruth.
First – the Red Sox. They sold him to the Yankees before the 1920 season. They didn’t win again until 84 years later, in 2004.
Then: the New York Giants were cursed when their legendary manager John McGraw publicly disrespected the Base for his poor showings in the 1921 and ’22 World Series. According to the Society of Baseball Research,
In 1920 Babe Ruth arrived to play for the lowly Yankees. The team’s attendance soared as Ruth began hitting home runs out of the Polo Grounds, prompting an enraged McGraw to instruct Stoneham to evict their upstart tenants. In what was widely viewed as a battle between Inside Baseball and the new Power Game, McGraw had the consolation of beating the Yankees in the World Series of 1921-22 (“I signaled for every ball that was pitched to Ruth during the last World’s Series,” McGraw gloated). The tide turned for good in 1923, however, when the Yankees crushed the Giants, four games to two, for their first World’s Championship, with Ruth clouting three home runs.
McGraw famously added: “Why shouldn’t we pitch to Babe Ruth? We pitch to better hitters in the National League.”
The Curse of the Bambino was on for the Giants. McGraw would never win another Championship (it was Bill Terry who led them to their 1933 World Series win).
Another team cursed by their poor treatment of Mr. Ruth was the other Boston team – the Braves. Before the 1935 season, the Braves signed him, promising that he would be “co-manager” and eventually take over the manager’s job. It had been his long-time goal to be a manager in the Major Leagues. Well, the Braves had no intention of letting him manage their team- all he was to them, really was a side-show act. He was a clown, to them. The Braves lied to him so they could use him as a drawing card. He lasted until May, then retired. But for disrespecting the great Babe, a blessed individual, I believe that the Boston Braves were cursed. They only won one pennant – 1948 – but no more Championship flags to go along with the one from 1914. The Babe died in August of 1948, a month before the Braves won their only AL pennant. They left Boston for Milwaukee after the 1953 season. The curse, then, was off (at least temporarily) because they won the World Series in 1957. They were also blessed because they played another blessed individual – Hank Aaron – in 1954. (Who, not coincidentally, just celebrated his 82nd birthday on February 5th)
The fourth team cursed because of their disrespect of the Babe was the Chicago Cubs. There may have been conflict with the Cubs’ players and fans going back to the 1918 World Series, when Ruth pitched brilliantly against them. There definitely was conflict with the team during the 1932 World Series. Because of their disrespect for him, the franchise was cursed for the past 84 seasons (no Championships from 1932 onward – they’ve had none since 1908, but they were cursed for other reasons, too)
But it wasn’t just their disrespect for a blessed player that reveals the Cubs’ Curse of the Bambino. When Elohim does something important, there’s usually a sign – something out of the ordinary that shows His hand of power. Bible history is loaded with signs – including the sign of the rainbow, the Tower of Babel’s mixed languages, the Ten Plagues of Egypt, the Parting of the Red Sea, and many others. We can include the Sign of Hanukah, which is only referred to in the New Testament as the Feast of the Dedication that Jesus attended in Jerusalem. That was in the non-Biblical Books of the Maccabees. Remember: the sign of the Holy Oil lasting for eight days (when they started with only a single days’ worth)? That was a sign of blessing on Yahweh’s people.
In the Renewed Covenant (the Messianic Scriptures, also known as the New Testament), there were also many signs. There were signs at His special birth: “this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Every miracle Jesus did was a sign – telling the world who He was: God in human flesh. The Feeding of the 5000 and the 4000 were both signs of His identity as the Creator. The cross was a sign of the bloody sacrifice Jesus needed to provide (“Cursed in he who is hanged on a tree”). The Resurrection was a sign – Yahweh’s “Amen” to Yeshua’s “It is finished.” There are signs in heaven and on earth in the Book of the Revelation.
So, when Yahweh is at work, He often includes a sign.
Was there a sign in the 1932 World Series?
It’s known as “The Babe’s Called Shot.”
Forget the billy goat… “The Called Shot” was the sign of judgment on the Cubs.
More next time…
Babe Ruth had a career that was longer than most Major League ball players for obvious reasons – mostly, because he was the Greatest MLB Player of All Time. He was such a good left-handed pitcher that he started his career while he was still a teenager (at 19 in 1914). Even when he was older, when he was heavy and slow, and had difficulty fielding his position in right field – he was still a major force at the plate.
After the end of his career in 1935, sportswriter John P. Carmichael asked the Babe what was his greatest day on the field. His answer was published in a book titled “My Greatest Day in Baseball,” in 1968 by Grossett-Dunlap’s line of paperbacks, Tempo Books. Ruth was one of 36 players who had their stories included.
Now, which of the many moments in his career do you think the mighty Sultan of Swat picked as his “Greatest” of all?
His first Major League game in 1914? No.
His first pennant winner, the Red Sox in 1915? No.
His first World Series appearance (as a pinch hitter against the Phillies in the 1915 Series? No.
His first World Series Championship, with the Red Sox in 1915? No.
His first World Series game in which he pitched, in 1916 against the Brooklyn Dodgers? No.
His World Series wins in 1916 and 1918 over the Cubs? No.
His 29 2/3 scoreless innings streak as a pitcher in the World Series? No.
His explosive first year with the Yankees in 1920 when he shattered his own home run record of 29 with 54 big ones? No.
His offensive assault on the American League in 1920 and ’21? No.
Hitting the first home run in Yankee Stadium, “The House That Ruth Built?” No.
Having his highest single-season batting average and winning the batting title in 1924? No.
Playing for the Greatest Team in Baseball History, the “Murderer’s Row” New York Yankees of 1927? No.
Hitting a record 60 home runs in 1927? No.
Destroying the Pirates in 4 games and winning the 1927 World Series in four games? No.
Destroying the Cardinals in 1928 with a record-setting explosion, batting .625, including a three home run game at Sportsman Park? No.
Winning the AL pennant in 1932, for the last time with the Yankees? No.
Winning his last World Championship over the Cubs in 1932? No.
Hitting the first All-Star Game home run in 1933? No.
Hitting three home runs in his last game against the Pirates at Forbes Field? No.
None of those.
Of course: of all the moments it could have been, the Number One career moment for the Bambino was…
“The Called Shot” in the 1932 World Series.
Listen to some of the descriptions written by Shawn Ramsey on February 4th, 2016 about this very incident. In the heart of Super Bowl Hype reaching its annual crescendo, On “Throwback Thursday” on the Fox Sports MLB site, Shawn Ramsey writes an article titled: “Ruth’s called home run shot in 1932 World Series.” I couldn’t make this stuff up!
This is Shawn Ramsey, not Joltin’ Joe Scotto:
Baseball is a game full of nostalgia. For some, it’s playing catch in the backyard, for others, it’s the first time catching a ‘souvenir’ ball at a MLB game.
In honor of this ‘Throwback Thursday,’ let’s highlight one of the greatest home runs in MLB history from none other than the great Babe Ruth…
Perhaps one of the greatest moments of Ruth’s historic career came in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. The first game of the series in Wrigley Field, the Cubs were down 2-0 giving Charlie Root the start against the New York Yankees.
The game didn’t start well for Root and the Cubs, with Ruth putting the Yankees up 3-0 in the opening frame with a three-run home run. The Cubs managed to come back to tie the game at 4 in the fourth inning.
With the game tied at four in the fifth inning, Ruth came up to bat. Cubs players had reportedly been heckling the slugger all game, with Ruth choosing to give it right back to the Chicago bench by pointing his bat to centerfield, then again after strike two.
The next pitch was drilled 440 feet to the deepest part of center field. Giving the Yankees the lead and cementing the moment’s place in history as New York went on to sweep the World Series.
Again – I didn’t write that. This was, indeed, a moment that was transcendent.
Now, listen to the Babe himself, as told to John P. Carmichael:
“ Nobody but a blankety-blank fool would-a done what I did that day. When I think of what-a idiot I’d a been if I struck out and I could-a, too, just as well as not because I was mad and I’d made up my mind to swing at the next pitch if I could reach it with a bat. Boy, when I think of the good breaks in my life … that was one of ‘em.
Aw, everybody knows that game; the day I hit the homer off ol’ Charlie Root there in Wrigley Field, the day, October 1, the third game of that 1932 World Series. But right now I want to settle all arguments: I didn’t exactly point to any spot, like the flagpole. Anyway, I didn’t mean to. I just sorta waved at the whole fence, but that was foolish enough. All I wanted to do was give that thing a ride… outta the park… anywhere.
The World Series did’t last long, but it was a honey. That Malone and that Grimes didn’t talk like any Sunday-School guys and their trainer … yeah, Andy Lotshaw … he got smart in the first game at New York, too. That’s what started me off. I’d popped up once in that one, and he was on their bench wavin’ a towel at me and hollerin’: “ If I had you, I’d hitch you to a wagon, you potbelly!” I didn’t mind no ball-players yellin’ at me, but the trainer cuttin’ in … that made me sore. As long as they started in on me, we let ‘em have it….
Anyway, we got into Chicago for the third game, that’s where those Cubs really decided to get on us. They were in front of their home folks and I guess they thought they better act tough.
We were giving the Cubs h— about how cheap they were to Mark Koenig only votin’ him a half-share in the Series and they were callin’ me big belly and balloon-head, but I think we made ‘em madder by giving them that ol’ lump-in-the-throat sign … you know, the thumb and finger at the windpipe. That’s like callin’ a guy yellow.
We were tied 4 – 4 going into the fifth frame…. I didn’t know whether they were gonna get on me any more or not when I got to the box, but I saw a lemon rolling out to the plate and I looked over and there was Malone and Grimes with their thumbs in their ears wiggling their fingers at me.
I told Hartnett: “If that bum (Charlie Root) throws me in here, I’ll hit it over the fence again,” and I’ll say for Gabby, he didn’t answer, but those other guys were standing up in the dugout, cocky because they’d got four runs back and everybody hollerin’. So I just changed my mind. I took two strikes and after each one I held up my finger and said, “That’s one” and “That’s two.” Ask Gabby… he could hear me. Then’s when I waved to the fence!
No, I didn’t wave to any spot, but as long as I’d called the first two strikes on myself, I hadda go through with it. It was d________ foolishness, sure, but I just felt like doing it and I felt pretty sure Root would put one close enough for me to cut at, because I was showin’ him up… he hadda take a chance as well as I did or walk me!
Gosh, that was a great feelin’ … getting’ a hold of that ball and I knew it was going someplace. .. yes sir, you can feel it in your hands when you’ve laid wood on one. How that mob howled. Me? I just laughed… laughed to myself going around the bases and thinking, “You lucky bum … lucky, lucky.”
… I could see the Cubs and I just stopped on third and laughed out loud, slapped my knees and yelled: “Squeeze-the-Eagle-Club” so they’d know I was referrin’ to Koenig and for special to Malone and called him “meat-head” and asked when he was gonna pitch.
Yeah, it was silly. I was a blankety-blank fool. But I got away with it and after Gehrig homered, behind me, their backs were broken. It was a day to talk about. (Babe Ruth as told to John P. Carmichael, My Greatest Day in Baseball, 1968, pp. 139 – 143)
A day to talk about, Babe? Indeed it was… indeed it was.
So – the Babe was an individual, blessed by Elohim, who was mistreated by four franchises that led to them being cursed by the Lord: The Boston Red Sox (from the time they sold him in 1920 to 2004, when the Red Sox won – 84 seasons), the New York Giants (from 1922, when McGraw publically disrespected him and two other blessed individuals, Casey Stengel and Mose Solomon, the “Rabbi of Swat”; from 1923 to 2007, when they signed Madison Bumgarner, another blessed individual – 84 years), the Boston Braves (who lied, mistreated, and generally disrespected the Greatest Baseball Player who ever lived in 1935 – they never won another Championship until they left town and became the Milwaukee Braves – 21 seasons from 1935 to 1956) and the Chicago Cubs, who both the team and the fans grossly disrespected in the 1932 World Series.
So, if the Babe was a great a sinner as he, without a doubt, was, how was he so blessed? I don’t know, but I’ll try to suggest some possibilities:
· He had Jewish ancestry (and Yahweh promised to Abraham that He would bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him – which is extended to Abraham’s Chosen Offspring, the Jews); this is very possible because Ruth’s ancestors were primarily from Germany, where many Jewish people had intermarried or became Christians. An example of a Jewish family that converted to Christianity were the Mendelssohn’s, the family of the great genuinely Christian composer, Felix Mendelssohn – whose music was not co-incidentally used for the most popular version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”
· He gave public honor to his Creator. Concerning the “Called Shot”, the Babe (who was, “oddly enough”, frequently asked about it) said, in a famous interview that can be found on YouTube: “Well, the Good Lord was with me.” He gave public credit to the One who controls everything, the Sovereign Lord!
· He was simply chosen by Yahweh to be blessed, for no other reason than His sovereign choice.
That’s probably true – or all of the above could be true. This leads to the question: “Why?” Why would Elohim chose such a … sinner?
Easy – because we’re all sinners, saved by grace (Yahweh’s unmerited favor). None of us deserve heaven – NO, NOT ONE! None of us will get to spend eternity with Jesus in heaven based on our works.
As I was writing this, I just took a break to read a few pages of John MacArthur’s latest book, “Parables”, published by Thomas Nelson in 2015. I have to share with you what I read, not for any reason than it was the next chapter. Chapter 4, titled “A Lesson in Justice and Grace,” starts by comparing the lives and destinies of Judas Iscariot and the thief on the cross. On page 57: “One was a close disciple of Jesus Christ and gave three years of his life to the best, most intensive religious available anywhere. But he lost his soul forever. The other was a hardened, lifelong criminal who was still mocking everything holy while being put to death for his crimes. But he went straight to paradise forever.”
On p. 59, MacArthur continues: “People who have devoted their lives to religion do sometimes seem to resent it when God reaches out and GRACIOUSLY redeem someone who they deem unworthy of divine favor.
What we have to bear in mind is that all people are totally unworthy. No one DESERVES God’s favor. We are all guilty sinners who deserve nothing more than damnation. No one who has sinned has any rightful claim on the kindness of God.
God, on the other hand, has every right to show mercy and compassion to whomever He chooses. (Exodus 33:19) Furthermore, when He shows mercy, it is always with lavish abundance…. People who protest that God is unfair or unjust when He shows grace to the least deserving people simply do not understand the principle of grace. Undiluted justice would mean immediate death for every sinner… The truth is, we don’t really want what is “fair.” We all desperately need grace and mercy
On the other hand, grace is not unjust, because Christ made full atonement for the sins of those who trust Him – and thereby turned justice in their favor.”
Amen to that! I believe that Babe Ruth was judged for the evil lifestyle he chose to live – he was diagnosed with cancer in November of 1946. But, I also believe he had a saving faith at the end of his life. I have three pictures of Babe Ruth near the end of his life. They were all taken on the last Babe Ruth Day, in 1948, just a few months before he would die in August of that year. Those two color pictures were not colorized – they were taken in color originally and were only recently discovered. One shows the Babe in front of his old locker, with a look of joy on his face. The other two pictures show him on the field during the tribute. The Babe has lost a lot of weight – he was one of the first patients to receive chemo and radiation treatments for his cancer. You can tell in all three pictures – he shows something that he was not known for earlier: humility. Yes – he’s fighting the cancer with all his strength. But, at the same time, we see a man who has been humbled. He is unashamed to use a bat as a cane. There’s an air of humility about him that I think is very obvious.
Humility – genuine humility – is the clearest sign of a repentant heart. Sometime, near the end, Babe Ruth (I believe), despite his grievous previous sins, asked the Lord Jesus for forgiveness. And, I believe, as far as I know, it was granted.
Just like Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who hated Christians and looked down on the Gentiles surrounding him, was chosen by Jesus to be saved and become Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, so Babe Ruth, despite his lifetime of sinning, was ushered by divine grace into the household of faith. Maybe it was a seed planted years earlier, when the Babe more than likely listened to Billy Sunday preach during spring training, that bloomed. I don’t know. All I do know is: 1) all the signs point to a genuine conversion; and 2) the Babe is so much like the thief on the cross, but he is also a lot like Samson.
Listen to what the Messianic Writings (the New Testament) says in Hebrews, Chapter 11:
29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Did you see the people who shouldn’t have been blessed by the mercy of Yahweh? Not only was Rahab a prostitute, but she was a Canaanite, the very people, cursed by Elohim, who Joshua and the Israelites had been ordered to kill (as a judgment for their more than 600 years of failing to repent after hearing the Word of Truth from Abraham)? Yet, Yahweh was ever gracious – He allowed both her AND her family to be saved. And what about Samson? He was supposed to have been a Nazarite (holy, dedicated to Yahweh) from birth. But, instead of delivering the people of Israel from the oppression of the Philistines, he squandered his supernatural strength on games and women, finally falling into the clutches of Delilah. He had his eyes put out and was enslaved by the Philistines, the very people he had been sent to judge. But – he was humbled. As he was being treated like a clown in a circus, cruelly mocked by his enemies, Yahweh blessed him at the very end because he repented. As he died, he killed more of the oppressing Philistines than he had ever killed in his lifetime!
Wouldn’t that be amazing? Two of the guys most people condemn to hell for their genuine transgressions – Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb – may actually be in glory together. As I said in tribute to Ernie Banks, I look forward to the day when we can all play ball on the REAL Elysian Fields. And we’ll be playing a lot more than two!