I’ve always related to the characters in Kevin Costner’s baseball films, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams and For the Love of the Game. The main characters in each of the films touch me each in a different way.
The character of Crash Davis strikes a particular chord in me. Crash is a journeyman minor league catcher with the dubious distinction of having the most minor league homers. He also played by the way 3 weeks in “the show. “ He is a consummate professional, loves the game and actually cares about the development of the young guys, even if they try his patience. His dealings with Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLooche (Tim Robbins) is case in point. Crash is demoted by the big team from a AAA contract to a single A contract to develop the young bonus baby. He’s not happy with the job, he’s proud, but he takes it on with a mixture of skill and humor in a manner that benefits not only the young pitcher but motivates the rest of the team. It does not matter that he is in the minor leagues as he still plays his heart out and spends his time teaching the next generation. He even gets thrown out of a games if it helps motivate his team and let’s his young charge learn the hard way when young “Nuke” decides to ignore his advice.
My life is like a journeyman ball player. I started in the Army,and to use the baseball journeyman analogy I played one position for a number of years and then so to speak left the big team to train for a new position while playing in the minors. When I graduated from seminary and becoming a National Guard and Reserve Chaplain while doing my hospital residency and first hospital chaplain jobs it was like working my way up through the minors. When I was promoted to the rank of Major in the Army Reserve it was like moving up to Triple A ball. When I got mobilized it was like getting promoted to the majors. When that time ended and I returned to the reserve it was like being sent back to the minors. I honestly thought that I would spend the rest of my career there, maybe getting called up for brief periods of time but knowing that my career was destined to end in the minor leagues. That changed when I was given a chance to go into the Navy. I reduced in rank and came in with no time in grade meaning that I was starting from scratch with a new slate. Now all of my experience was still there, but I was starting over. It was like when a player gets traded between from the American League to the National League in mid season, or is called up from the minors to play on the big team. His slate is clear, it is a new start.
I’ve been blessed, I got a chance to go back and live my dream serving as an active duty Navy Chaplain. I’ve gotten to serve on ship and with the Marines and EOD. I’ve travelled the world and I’ve gone to war. I’m not the same as I was as when I started. I have issues, maybe even the full subscription. I have streaks where I am hot and when I am not, I have my slumps. I’m somewhat superstitious but I make do. However, what drives me now is twofold; first to care for those in my ICUs, patients, families and staff. Second to help the young guys and gals along. I’ve been in the military since before many of them were born. In a sense I’m a Crash Davis kind of guy. I love the movie and the character. I hope we can all find something or someone to help connect us to what we do in life. Somehow in Her grace the Deity allows me to find this in baseball.