It was a September Sunday in 1998.
The St. Louis Cardinals had no hope of making the
Major League Baseball playoffs, and yet the ballpark
was packed. Itís been this way for weeks now. Packed
stadiums. Why? One name . . . Mark McGwire.
McGwire was catching what many considered an
untouchable record of 61 home runs in a single
season. For 37 years, no one had done it. And now,
McGwire had already tied Roger Marisí home run
distance record with a 430-foot shot off the stadium
Since the first record of 61 home runs in a single
season had been considered untouchable, everyone
wondered if Mark might be able to do the
unthinkable. After all, there were still a few games
left to play.
Now itís Sunday, 46,000 fans in the park as well as
half America watching on TV. The pitcher is nervous.
Mark is on deck. As McGwire steps into the batterís
box, the fans go crazy. And then, sure enough, the
crack of the bat, fans jump to their feet in a roar,
and the ball is going . . . Going . . . GONE! The
record is broken.
On every news program, headlining on every sports
show, all over world, the name of Mark McGwire was
being proclaimed. People just couldnít stop talking
about the man. With the few games left, McGwire kept
hitting home runs. For thirty-seven years, no one
could hit more than 61 homers; now the St. Louis
slugger had hit 68. And he wasnít even finished!
Number 69 landed in the left field seats. It takes
two curtain calls to silence the crowd. Home run
number 70 comes in the seventh inning. The fans were
on their feet before he came to bat; they stayed on
their feet long after he crossed home plate. They
cheered the home runs. They cheered the new record.
They cheered the season. And they cheered something
else too. They cheered the man!
Now enters Jesus. All of heaven
responds the same way. The question for us; am I
applauding the man Jesus? Donít we all want a life
that cheers Him more than ourselves? Why? Because no
one is greater than Jesus. Out of every historical
name throughout time, more people know the name
Jesus than any other. His story is told more,
questioned more, scrutinized more, believed more,
attacked more and taught more than any other.
Clearly, Jesus has no seconds.
Jesus never had a beginning and he will never have
an end. Jesus always was and always will be.
Everything around us is so fragile . . . so tied to
time . . . but not him . . . he is eternal. While
everything else in the cosmos will one day come to a
stop . . . he never will. His power knows no limits;
he only speaks and the lame walk, blind eyes are
opened, deaf ears hear, storms cease and angry seas
come to a calm.
I watched the night McGwire tied the record with the
61st home run. I remember jumping to my feet in
front of the TV. I remember feeling pride for Mark
as I watched him run the bases. I remember getting
choked up seeing him swoop down and lift his
10-year-old son, Matt, between third and home and in
celebration with his fellow players. Both benches
emptied. Both teams mauled him with congratulations.
Mark, with son in arms, stepped away from his
teammates and began searching the crowds. He pointed
toward the seats behind home plate to an older man
standing there. It was Markís father.
As we think back on that moment isnít that what we
all want to do? Lift the Son as we point people to
Ron Otto, Preaching
minister at Lincoln Christian Church