|Musial: Original image The Boston Globe|
Stan the Man played 3,026 games beginning in 1941 for 22 seasons, and his last at-bat was a base hit though the hole between second and first. The rookie second baseman that day for the Cincinnati Reds was Pete Rose. Those two players combined for over 8,000 hits from 1941-1986.
But in a particular game in 1954, writer Joe Posnanski recalls the tale of Musial batting in the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs and pitcher Paul Minner had shut out the Cardinals 3-0, facing the minimum until Wally Moon reached base. Musial casually stepped to the plate and doubled down the right field line, scoring Moon and breaking the hold facing the Cardinals on this frustrating day.
Except first base umpire Lee Ballanfant defiantly stood as the play came to a close and refused to change his call. Though the hard line drive had dropped inside the foul line, Ballanfant called it foul. The Cardinals bench erupted. Home plate umpire Augie Donatelli ejected manager Eddie Stanky and Cardinals shortstop Solly Hemus. A near brawl and riot ensued on the field. On deck batter Peanuts Lowery nearly got thrown out as well.
At this moment, a quietly demeaned Musial did not fully know what was going on and stepped away from second base to ask Donatelli what had taken place. Donatelli was critical in Musial's career - not much later he was also behind the plate when Musial hit five home runs in a single double header, and he was again behind the plate for the slugger's 3,000th career hit.
On this day, Donatelli upheld his first base umpire's call and it was foul. Musial returned to the box and Moon back to first.
"What happened, Augie? It didn't count, huh?" Posnanski writes of Musial's words. "Well, there's nothing you can do about it."
Musial stepped back in, laced another double to the exact same spot, and on this occasion Ballanfant called it fair and the Cardinals erupted for six runs and won the game.
Musial's reaction is a lesson.
Forgiveness involves a number of elements. You could have been the guilty party and needed to ask for it. You could have been the innocent party and needed to receive it. You could have been the co-party and needed to participate in a dual apology. But forgiveness is critical to moving forward and becoming successful in any part of life.
We all have been hurt, and those hurts are real. What we do with those hurts will determine where you go. Many people have been hurt in ways that cannot be made right, but forgiveness allows us to take a different perspective.
What if Musial had become so consumed with the umpire's call that he struck out? His team lost? He got ejected for arguing and ruined his legacy? Or let's say he did all or any of those things and then needed later to make it right.
Forgiveness begins with giving or hearing an apology, but it comes through admittance and confession. But the key is to let it go and move on. Today, I challenge you to learn to forgive.
Unforgiveness is poison, it's toxic, and sometimes it seems right in vengeance and honor but it's never fulfilling. Unforgiveness can release a viscous cycle of rebuttal which will never be made right.
I think of other baseball calls. I struggle, as every Cardinals fan does, to forgive umpire Don Dekinger for blowing an out call in the 1985 World Series which ultimately cost the Cardinals a title. But the biggest issue was - there was STILL another game. The Cardinals came unglued in game seven and were blown out by the Royals, resulting in a 3-1 deficit becoming a 4-3 series win for Kansas City. The image is burned into my mind of Todd Worrell's foot reaching the bag first. But it will never change.
Perhaps this is not about baseball, but a greater hurt. Abuse, innocence lost, tempers flared, words said, stupidity lessons learned. Forgiveness is the power of releasing what hurt is in you for the good that has yet to be revealed in others.
Consider that Matthew West wrote a song about this. A family member decided to forgive a criminal who committed vehicular homicide with a DUI and killed her family member. They now travel together speaking about forgiveness and the dangers of drunk driving. THAT'S forgiveness.
What about a missionary who was killed and his family members returned to those tribal areas to plant churches? That's forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not getting even. There's NEVER an even. Jesus died on the cross to OVERCOME sin, not GET EVEN with it. He became sin, who knew no sin, so we might become His righteousness (Tomlin).
Forgiveness could also be as simple as letting go of a hurt that is consuming you. The Bible says in Matthew 18 that between people, it is a matter of confronting and discussing and then moving forward. But what if that person is yourself.
Oh, that mirror is blurry, isn't it?
God said he forgives and tosses your sin as far as the east is from the west. You cannot forget. He can, but you cannot. You must, however, forgive.
Forgive others, just as Christ has forgiven you.
There's six runs waiting on it. Don't lose this game because you got thrown out.
When the enemy brings up the past and cries foul, remind him, "Well, there's nothing you can do about it."
Keep swinging. Forgiveness is a reminder that there's always a second chance.
I love you all, and these are my thoughts.