Last July, Sr. Cecilia, the director of One To One Learning, a ministry of our congregation serving immigrants, came to ask me if I would throw out the first pitch in honor of the ministry’s 25th anniversary which would be held at the stadium of our local team, the Rockland Boulders. I thought to myself (beside the honor), what a hoot it would be. So of course, I said YES!!
You see, baseball has always been a special part of my memories. Growing up in Queens, it was church in the morning and baseball, either on radio or tv, in the afternoon. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have all four of my grandparents for many years, each of whom had their “expert opinions” on which was the best team in New York. My Mom, as was her mom, was a Dodger fan, my Dad and his father-in-law, Yankee loyalists, and finally my dad’s parents, devoted to the Giants! Whose apartment we landed in on a Sunday could determine the game for that day, as well as the refreshments (for the adults) that were served, for they were as loyal to the team brew as to the team itself! I still smile when I see the images of my dear parents/grandparents gathered around the living room and listening to either, Mel Allen with a Ballantine, Vin Scully with a Schaefer, or Marty Glickman with a Rheingold.
Then the unthinkable happened, the Dodgers and Giants left New York and we were a one team town, until the gods of baseball sent the NY Mets to Queens! Being Queens folk, my family embraced this new fledging team, their announcers (Nelson, Murphy, and Kiner), and Rheingold was back in the fridge!
So here I was on a cool Friday evening, waiting to be called out to the field for that one pitch. For sure, I had practiced (and did OK 80% of the time), but this was one pitch and I prayed it wouldn’t fall into the 20% category. As I took a deep breath, a thought went through my mind— doesn’t the Lord ask me to make a pitch each day, whether to a student, colleague, parent, or others? Each of those pitches can be an opportunity to affirm God’s promise of love and care for us all, no matter our situation in life. Just like a pitch, it could be a strike, a ball, or even wild, and could take us into many different directions, some we never planned to go.
That night, after a deep breath and quick prayer, the ball left my hand, and I said to myself, “It’s all yours, Holy Spirit!”
So, what was the outcome? Well, it wasn’t perfect, having bounced right before the plate—but that’s OK. Remember, Jesus was also making a pitch as he preached. For some it was a curve; some walked either with him or away; and with some, it was a strike out. What mattered was he never passed up the opportunity to pitch the WORD of God wherever the Spirit led him. So now, that scuffed ball from Boulder Stadium has become for me a reminder that, while every pitch may not be perfect, if I have trust in the Spirit, the ball will land where it was meant to be.
– Sister Nancy Richter, OP
Sister Nancy is Campus Minister at
Albertus Magnus High School, Bardonia, NY