Since I live with a lifelong baseball fan, we have been watching Stephen Strasburg’s debut as a pitcher in the major leagues. If you aren’t a sports fan, let me give you a recap. Strasburg is a 21-year-old pitcher who has had phenomenal stats in the minor leagues and was brought up last week to pitch for the Washington Nationals. And he did not disappoint. In his debut, he pitched 7 innings, struck out 14, and walked 0.
But what I love about his story is not that he came in and performed as expected. It is a much smaller piece of the puzzle—and it involves two of my favorite baseball players of all time.
When the Nationals brought up this young guy, they wanted to pair him with a veteran catcher. They chose 38-year-old Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge came to the big leagues in 1991, as a highly touted 19-year-old catcher for the Texas Rangers. Even now, with almost 20 years in the majors under his belt, I’m sure Pudge remembers very well the kind of pressure attached to one so young and talented. And I’m sure he also remembers the value of a veteran player paired with a rookie in the battery.
In 1991, the rookie Pudge caught the 44-year-old Nolan Ryan—who also threw a 14 strike out game that year! (Which, to me, is as amazing a feat as one pitched by a young guy.) Of course I can’t say for sure that Nolan Ryan, even indirectly, influenced some of the calm and maturity Pudge brings to Stasburg, but given the character of both those guys, I’d say it’s a safe bet.
And isn’t that cool? Young guys learning from those that have had longevity. And two players toward the end of their careers not threatened by the attention surrounding the up-and-coming.
But then the Bible tells us that this is the way it should be. The older realizing they still have something to give by telling the younger generation of the faithfulness of the Lord, by encouraging them as they begin their journey through life. The younger ones understanding and embracing the value in the experience of those who have lived longer on this earth. And it proves yet again that illustrations of the truths of God can come from even the most unlikely of places!