It was a bright afternoon in Forbes Field, in Pittsburgh. The date was October 13, 1960. It was game seven of the World Series. The dominant New York Yankees were in town against the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates. Though the Series was tied at three games apiece, the Yankees were clearly the superior team, amassing a total run advantage of 46-17. The Pirates were mild competition for the likes of Mantle, Maris, Berra, Ford, and MVP Bobby Richardson. But it all came down to the final inning of the final game. The score was 9-9. At 3:36 p.m., light hitting second baseman Bill Mazeroski stepped to the plate. And with one swing of the bat, the World Series had its first-ever walk-off home run. Mazeroski drove the ball to left field, completely out of the stadium.
Now, if you visit Cooperstown, you will see all the great historic home run balls on display: Babe Ruth’s 60th home run ball from 1927, Roger Maris’ 61st from 1961, etc. But you won’t find the most significant ball ever hit. The Mazeroski ball isn’t there. Here’s what happened. A 14-year-old boy named Andy Jerpe went to the game that day. He left in the bottom of the 9th so he wouldn’t be late for dinner. Walking beyond the stadium, he heard the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd. Unexpectedly, 15 feet away, landed “the ball.” A police officer ran over to Andy as he picked up the historic ball, and he escorted the 9th grader to the Pirates’ clubhouse. There, Andy offered the ball to Mazeroski, who declined. “No thanks, son. You can keep the ball. The memory is good enough for me.” He signed the historic ball, and Andy walked home, now late for dinner and much in trouble.
Andy put the ball in a case on the mantle above the fireplace at home. Six months later, some friends came over, and they decided to get up a game of baseball. The problem was, they didn’t have a ball. But Andy did. So they took the Mazeroski ball to the field. Soon, someone knocked the ball into a field. After a brief search for the ball, they gave up. It was mired in the weeds. A few days later, Andy’s dad noticed the ball missing from the mantle. When Andy told him the story, they went back to the field to look for the ball again. The field had been mowed and the historic ball was lost forever.
Many of us are like that ball. We have great value. But we get mired in the weeds. We have big plans, but get sidetracked by insignificant issues of day-to-day life. We become mired in the weeds. We stop growing in our faith because of our pursuit for the next dollar. We find ourselves mired in the weeds. We didn’t intend to end up there. Nor did we give ample time to finding our way out. God has huge plans for each of us. When we get lost, we are like that baseball. We don’t want to be lost. It just happens. It happens because we get mired in the weeds.