Saturday, September 27, 2014
DEREK JETER, THE PLAYER AND THE 'PRAY-ER'
By Antoinette Rainone
What comes before every big hit, before every big play at shortstop?
A small prayer.
He prays before he gets to the ballpark.
He prays before he gets to the dugout.
He prays before he gets up at bat.
He prays on the field before the opposing team gets up at bat.
Derek Jeter prays.
With the cameras constantly on Derek Jeter during Thursday's last home game of his amazing Yankee career, you couldn't help but notice how many times he'd kneel, bow his head, and close with the sign of the cross.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." — Philippians 4:13.
Derek Jeter knows where his power, strength, talent, and victories come from. And it's his humbleness that has made Jeter a truly great captain of the New York Yankees.
A colleague of mine told me she has relatives who attend the same Roman Catholic parish that Derek Jeter's family belongs to. Every Christmas, they see Derek Jeter at Midnight Mass. There are no cameras, no fanfare. Just one man out of hundreds, sitting in the back of the church, coming to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world.
As a child growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and spending summers with his grandparents in New Jersey, Jeter's one unwavering dream was to be the short stop of the New York Yankees.
"I've been pretty blessed. This is always what I wanted to do," Jeter told the hosts of the TV show Close Encounter. "But I appreciate everything that's happened. I don't take anything for granted."
And he didn't take the last Yankee home game of his 20-year career for granted either.
Top of the ninth, the Yankees were winning 5-2. But the Baltimore Orioles are a darn good team...and they tied it.
Bottom of the ninth. Brett Gardner gets a hit. The stage is set for Derek Jeter.
Derek kneels. He bows his head, prays, and closes with the sign of the cross.
Time to face the pitcher. Man on second.
He HITS the ball! OVER the heads and into right field! DEREK DRIVES IN GARDNER TO SCORE THE WINNING RUN! THE YANKEES WIN!
And it isn't just any win. It is a game-winning RBI, in the bottom of the ninth, by the man who is playing the last game of his illustrious career in pinstripes.
Later, Derek Jeter told reporters he was happy with a broken bat and a run scored in the seventh inning.
"I was happy with that being the end," Jeter said. "But I'll take this one."
And that really is the point. Derek Jeter would have been happy to have won the game in a modest way — with a broken bat. But God had other plans.
How many times does the game of life mirror a baseball game? Have we ever prayed for something, only to have God answer our prayers in a way totally beyond our wildest dreams?
Yankee fan or not, this win seemed to transform everyone. It was a test of faith. Everyone thought the game was a done deal going into the ninth. But sometimes the unexpected happens. And we are reminded: Never take anything for granted. Never lose hope. Keep the faith.
"If God is for us, who can be against us? — Romans 8:31.
Find your wings ... at any age.