His name was John Scolinos. And as he addressed 4000 baseball coaches that day, he literally had home plate hanging around his neck.
Scolinos had coached college baseball for ~40 years. But when he addressed the crowd, he had much more than baseball on his mind. As he began his message, he asked those assembled how wide home plate was in Little League baseball. After some time, a timid voice answered, “17 inches?” “Correct,” replied Scolinos. Next, he asked how wide the plate was in the Babe Ruth league – again – 17 inches was the correct answer.
All the way up through high school, college, the minor leagues, and into the major leagues, home plate remains 17 inches. The beloved coach then asked what happened with major league pitchers who couldn’t hit the strike zone. Answering his own question, he explained that such pitchers were sent down to the minors. Continuing, he added:
“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”
Having the younger coaches’ full attention, Scolinos then drove home his point:
“Coaches…what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him – do we widen home plate?
All the laughter left the room as Scolinos concluded with these remarks:
“If I am lucky, you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”
With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its black backside. “… dark days ahead.”
Friends, are there any areas where you’ve been widening God’s home plate in order to fit your choices? Any changes you need to make? –Dave
So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. (Deuteronomy 5:32)
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