I would consider myself to be a big baseball fan. Maybe not a die-hard, but pretty close – especially in a season like this where my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, are winning games at an historic pace. But outside of following Red Sox games, the other highlights each night are easily dismissed unless there is something that happens so rarely that it has people talking about it for a few days. Such an even happened last Sunday, when Cubs rookie third baseman David Bote, seeing big league action largely due to an injury to All-Star third baseman Kris Bryant, did this.
According to the Kansas City Star, it is only the 3rd time in the last 30 years where a player hit a walk-off grand slam while down to his last strike. It is the stuff kids dream about in their most dramatic dreams. For Bote, recalled and sent down a handful of times already this year, it was his third major league home run. He had been playing well at AAA and doubled in his first at bat in May, at Coors Field in Denver – a short drive from where he grew up, in front of many family and friends.
For Bote,(pronounced Bo-tee), a dream sequence like that lived out in real life really grabbed the attention of the baseball world. And it gave a chance for his story to be shared. He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2012 baseball draft (554th overall). He learned this news while on a mission trip in Kenya. – a story that had him considering leaving baseball dreams behind when his progress through the minors was slowed. He asked his wife if she thought he should give it up. Bote recalls “she said ‘We didn’t stay in ‘A’ ball for five years to give up now,’ ’’ Bote continues “We had a 3-month-old at the time. She was like, ‘Don’t do it because of me. If you want to give it up, do it, but not because of me.’ And I was like, ‘I’m not ready to give it up.’ Knowing she was 100 percent supportive made it that much easier.”
They stuck with it and now, all of baseball knows his name and his power to straight away center field. As you can read in this article from Sports Spectrum, Bote’s faith in God is deeply rooted. It says “Living by the verse Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” — Bob Bote (David’s dad) told Sports Spectrum that faith was always an important element in how he raised his children.“After games and other life situations, we would discuss how God was involved, what He might be trying to teach us, and how to glorify Him by our resulting actions,” Bob said. He began to provide spiritual encouragement to David as he began to watch his son’s baseball progression. “Be an encourager,” Bob told Sports Spectrum. “Treat others the way you want to be treated. Give praise to Jesus in all situations and results and be humble.”
Here are my takeaways from Bote’s story
1- Encourage and be humble – David’s dad shared his advice to his son – Be an encourager, treat others well, praise God always and be humble” What a great checklist to live by. And there is more. Being aware of God’s presence in all situations, looking to learn lessons from what we go through and how we can glorify Him by our response to what life brings our way – these are all great practices that we can develop by keeping God as the center of our attention. I find these thoughts a challenging reminder to take the focus off the hardships and instead focus on God. He invites us to trust Him instead of worrying (Matt 6.25-34) and depend on Him to provide for all we need (Philippians 4.19).
2- Support System – Bote considered giving up baseball because he felt like things were not progressing. He discussed it with his wife, who was living his baseball dreams with him. She continued to support him, and whatever the decision was. I really connect with this part of the story. My wife is easily my biggest cheerleader. She is so supportive of me, encourages me and shows by her words and her actions that she believes in me often more deeply than I believe in myself. To have that strength of support and depth of love and partnership really does empower me to move into challenges with confidence because I know that she is with me in the thick of it. And I get to do the same for her. She is an amazing woman who is doing some great things. It is my joy to support her in what she does being for her what she is for me.