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When Tommy Herr was traded to another team, he felt like his career was over. God had another plan.
Tuesday. I'm feeling desperate. I'm batting .000 in the American League. I couldn't even get a hit tonight in the series opener against lowly Baltimore, which is mired in the worst losing skid in league history. I try to force myself to sleep but just end up tossing and turning.
Finally I get out of bed and pick up the Word again. What would the ancient Hebrews have thought of baseball? Of batting averages and trades? Well, there was Joseph. Joseph was traded. Traded by his brothers for 20 shekels. Imagine how he must have felt. At least I was traded for someone of equal value; I certainly wasn't a slave. Joseph too lost something he wore proudly, perhaps too proudly, his many-colored coat, just as I lost my Cardinal uniform. And I guess you can say I felt as if I had been cast into a pit of sorts: I mean, the enclosed Metrodome is hardly the grand open-air ballpark that Busch Stadium is.
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Joseph's story lifts me. I see how he turns his rejection into triumph and learns a lesson in humility and forgiveness. But first Joseph has to face up to his rejection, accept it as a fact of life. We all face rejection at one time or another. The greatest rejection of all was Christ's crucifixion upon the cross. He was traded for 30 pieces of silver. What is my infinitesimal suffering compared to that? My sense of loss compared to His? Christ triumphed over rejection by rising from the dead. We too must triumph over rejection in our daily lives. Rejection, the Bible tells me, is a prelude to triumph.
Wednesday. Tonight I got a hit. Finally. Four, in fact. I felt as if a huge weight lifted. The guys in our dugout practically gave me a standing ovation. And I'm feeling more comfortable at second base in the Dome. It's a pretty good park after all. Getting to know my new teammates helps too. As it turns out, shortstop Greg Gagne, my partner on double plays, is a Christian.
Maybe things are falling into place, I'm beginning to like the Twin Cities. The fans are incredible. Today I got a call from a local Christian group welcoming me to Minnesota. It still hurts a little to think about the trade. But dwelling on rejection (the Cards don't want me and all that) is no good. I've got to get over it and go to work on the baseball diamond like the veteran I am. In this game your time in the sun is very short. You might as well relax and enjoy it. Besides, Kim pointed out something important: The Twins gave up a good player because they wanted me. I hadn't thought much about that. I can see now that the trade wasn't personal. Baseball is a business as well as a sport, and the Cards' decision was a business decision, an even exchange, one good player for another.
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Another thing. In '85 when the Cards won the National League Championship, there was a pretty active group of us Christians on the club. In the last few years we've kind of dispersed. Ricky Hotton pitches for the White Sox. Andy Van Slyke went to Pittsburgh. Todd Worrell is still a Card. You know, maybe God is scattering us the way He scattered the first apostles to spread the Word.
I could get traded again any day now. Baseball isn't permanent. But my Christianity is. That's the important part. You don't get traded off God's team. Everyone's a starter.