ARLINGTON, Texas — My three favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. Christmas. Opening Day.
I was blessed to join my 16-year-old son, Keaton, and 49,029 fellow baseball fans at my beloved Texas Rangers' season opener against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday afternoon.
Bobby and Keaton Ross at the Texas Rangers' Opening Day
I originally planned to watch the game from the comfort of my couch in Oklahoma City. But at the last minute, my friend Trey Morgan,
minister for the Childress Church of Christ
in the Texas Panhandle, texted to let me know he had two extra tickets to the game.
"Would you know anyone who might want them?" he asked.
(Insert rowdy scene of me doing the happy dance and calling my wonderful wife, Tamie, to beg permission to make an unscheduled trip down south.)
Trey and Lea Morgan at Globe Life Park
This was the remarkable scene at Globe Life Park for the first of the Rangers' 162 regular-season games (as captured by a Dallas Morning News photographer):
As I was munching on a $5 hot dog before the game, I received an email from Chad MacDonald, the San Diego Padres' vice president and assistant general manager of player personnel.
MacDonald, a member of the North Davis Church of Christ
in Arlington, wrote to clarify a detail in the story I was writing about him (it's now online
). My thanks to Doug Peters, the North Davis church's senior minister and a fellow Rangers fan, for introducing me to MacDonald.
"Enjoy opening day ... one of the best days of the year!" MacDonald replied back when I told him where I was. (His Padres, by the way, defeated
the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-1, Sunday night in MLB's North American opener.)
Chad MacDonald in the San Diego Padres' dugout
Here's a photo of Ziegler with his newborn son, Joshua, that his wife, Kristen Ziegler, posted on Facebook this week:
Brad and Kristen Ziegler with Joshua
Almost before I finished scarfing down my hot dog, my Rangers found themselves down, 6-0. Then they rallied and took at 7-6 lead after three innings. Then they coughed up the lead again and eventually lost, 14-10. That prompted some good-natured ribbing from my friend Dan Cooper, a Phillies fan and minister for the Pitman Road Church of Christ in Sewell, N.J.
"Happy for me, sad for you," Cooper said in a text after the game was over.
"Had a great time!" I replied. "We'll get you tomorrow!"
Fortunately, Opening Day isn't about winning or losing. It's about the promise of spring. It's about starting fresh.
As one fan put it:
In so many ways, baseball is like our spiritual walk.
It reminds me of all those trite but true cliches:
You can't hit the ball if you don't swing the bat.
Take it one game at a time.
It's a marathon, not a sprint.
One of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 4:7, where Paul says: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I’m certain that if Paul had lived after Abner Doubleday invented the precious game of baseball, he would have said something about pitching into the ninth inning and keeping his team close.
Meanwhile, I am honored and humbled to reveal that I will make my first major-league start for the Rangers tonight (or maybe they're talking about a different Ross Jr.
Screenshot from Fox Sports Southwest
Well, I've had enough fun for one column.
I'll leave you with this simple message: Play ball!
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