I keep my heart and my soul and my spirit open to miracles.
- Patrick Swayze
God works his wonder in many ways–even through baseball.
The other day I watched I’ll Knock a Homer for You: The Timeless Story of Johnny Sylvester and Babe Ruth, a documentary about a truly amazing miracle that occurred during the 1926 World Series. One that involved none other than the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth.
Back then, Yankees fan Johnny Sylvester was just 11 years old, recuperating from a horseback riding accident that resulted in a bone infection. The prognosis wasn’t good. Doctors didn’t think he’d make it.
The New York Yankees got word of Johnny’s illness and, during a rain delay in Game 3 of the World Series, a few ballplayers signed a baseball just for Johnny. Babe Ruth inscribed more than just a signature, though. He wrote a promise: “I'll knock a homer for Wednesday's game.”
On Wednesday–Game 4 of the series–Babe Ruth did more than just that. He hit three home runs for Johnny. After the World Series, he even paid him a special visit at home in New Jersey.
And something incredible happened–Johnny actually got better, against all odds. According to Andrew Lilley, director of the movie and Johnny’s great-nephew, the encounter changed everything.
“Babe Ruth’s home runs and his subsequent visit helped Johnny find the will to survive,” Andrew said.
Johnny didn't just survive, he thrived. He became a successful business owner and well-loved family man. He even served during World War II. Years later, when Babe Ruth was dying, it was Johnny who paid him a visit. He thanked the baseball great for changing his life.
“The story had come full circle at this point,” Andrew said. “Here was the kid all grown up going back to the Babe and showing the same generosity to his hero–just as the Babe showed him all those years ago.”
Johnny’s amazing recovery isn’t just a great miracle story. It’s also a reminder that all of us can be miracles to one another. It can be something as grand as a series of home runs in the middle of the World Series. Or as simple as a kind word to a coworker on a stressful day. We may not realize it, but God equips all of us to change each others’ lives.
“God works through human beings like Babe Ruth and Johnny Sylvester,” said Andrew. “It is through each of us that a miracle of God occurs.”
Photo: Johnny Sylvester and Babe Ruth in 1928
Diana Aydin is an associate editor for Mysterious Ways magazine. When she was just a little kid, she got her first dose of the miraculous. She’s been on the lookout for miracles ever since. Her favorite time of the day is lunch time, when she gets to step away from the workaday world and enjoy a bit of God’s wonder, if only for an hour!