20th Century, Catholic, football, History, Intercession, Minnesota, sports, Uncategorized

Smith Wins Heisman

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Bruce Smith’s number, 54, became the first officially removed from the roster in 1977.**

December 9, 1941
Halfback Bruce Smith (1920-1967), a college football sensation, becomes Minnesota’s first and only Heisman Trophy winner, then goes to Hollywood to play himself in the film Smith of Minnesota.

Smith was born in Faribault, Minnesota, where he excelled in high school football under the legendary football coach Win Brockmeyer. He then attended the University of Minnesota where he played halfback for the back-to-back national champion Gophers in 1940 and 1941. He received the Heisman two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.*

In 1910, the Minnesota Gophers lost the championship to Michigan 6-0. Tackle Lucius Smith, somehow, blamed himself for the loss. He vowed, allegedly, to have a son who would correct this wrong. Bruce Smith was that son. **

The following excerpt is an amplified account of his infamous “Run of the Century” from the Minneapolis Star Tribune written by Joe Christensen.

“That November battle for the Little Brown Jug needed no hype, pitting No. 2 Minnesota against No. 3 Michigan in Minneapolis. Eventual Heisman winner Tom Harmon threw a touchdown pass, giving the Wolverines the lead, and a crowd of 60,481 shivered beneath wind-swept rain.
“I just remember it was a wet day,” said Smith’s youngest sibling, June, who watched with her family at Memorial Stadium, where tickets cost $2.75 apiece.

Her brother’s No. 54 was barely visible with the mud. He stood in his leather helmet in the days before facemasks, a 6-foot, 195-pound force in Bierman’s single-wing offense.
On the play of the day, if not the century, Sonny Franck took the snap at Minnesota’s 20-yard line, heading right. Franck finished third in that year’s Heisman voting, so the Wolverines crashed toward him. But he quickly handed the ball to Smith on the reverse.
Smith hit the hole, jetted through two linebackers, and made a breathtaking cut left to avoid another tackle, sprinting the final 60 yards untouched. The Gophers held on for a 7-6 triumph.
“Some seven Michigan players took their shots at Bruce … yet he kept those hard-driving legs churning and scored,” Harmon later said. “It was a run that would have to be rated as one of the finest football has ever seen.”
Afterward, instead of hanging around campus to bask in the adulation, Smith followed his postgame ritual — jumping in the family car for the 50-mile drive south to Faribault.” ****
In effect, Bruce received the greatest honor in American college football, the Heisman Trophy, yet he contextualized the relevance of the sport in light of the attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II.
“I think America will owe a great debt to the game of football when we finish this thing off,…”. “If 6 million American youngsters like myself are able to take it and come back for more … and fight hard for the honor of our schools, then likewise the same skills can be depended on when we have to fight like blazes to defend our country.” ***

Mr. Smith maintained a certain heroism at the end of his life also. Struck with cancer, he refused self-pity as he went from 200 to 90 pounds, but sought to encourage and pray with others in the same struggle. He made the rounds with Paulist Fr. William Cantwell who nominated Bruce for sainthood after his death on August 26, 1967. ****,*****

Holy One, the life story of Bruce Smith strikes the author with a sense of awe at his example of servant leadership. Throughout the Scriptures we find this archetype written in the lives of its’ authors. We see patriarchs who form and lead tribes because they have practiced following You in obscurity, total dependency, and want. We see the judges who are both human and erring, and yet reflect Your divinity in superhuman moments of brilliance. We see kings succeed because they continually revere and serve You, therefore, are equipped to rule equitably and wisely lead their nation. We see prophets whom You have broken and humiliated externally, often at the hands of their own foolish authorities, yet live as champions of Your conscience and unfailing love. What will You teach us today, Holy Spirit? What lessons are in the life of this amazing football player and human being for us today? How can this Heisman-winner lead us into rest and repentance?

We thank You for his example of redeeming his father’s sense of failure and shame. We freely confess that we sometimes want our kids to succeed for selfish motives. We should be feeding our kids’ souls regardless of outcomes, not them padding our fragile self-concepts. In spite of the motives of Lucius Smith, You allowed his son to succeed in almost the exact conditions where his father failed?! We thank You for this moment of triumph between father and son. Will You give us a passion for the success of our children like Lucius, but detach their lives from our vows, shame, and egos?

So often, heroism is defined in the blink of an eye. Perhaps this is why your Word constantly calls us to character training. The disciplined mind does not waste time in crisis, but instinctually has chosen beforehand how to respond. Maybe this is a part of Smith’s momentary greatness in his “Run of the Century”? His training overtook his consciousness so that he could simply be in the moment! We thank You that a few moments of his serendipitous action blessed his generation of Minnesotans; both on and off the field! We give You thanks for the supreme beauty of seeing a person being themselves; of fulfilling their purpose so completely that it looks easy! Will You help us remember, right now, this day, that no act of momentary greatness can surpass Easter: Your Passion, Your Crucifixion, and Your Resurrection! Will You inspire our youths’ in Minnesota to actively train their total beings so that they can intuitively and instantly respond with authority to moments of dilemma?

It’s notable that Smith, after this astounding battle against Michigan, responded to victory by just going home. He subtly demonstrates to us that a hero already has a life, and does not attempt to get life out of accomplishments. He defined his own success instead of success defining him. Lord, thanks for his example of fulfillment: he came, he saw, he won, and then he rested. Will You bless us to do the same? Will You help us to choose what success looks like to us, and to relax in it?

Eternal Father, Smith is beloved for many things, but another noteworthy attribute of his was a lifestyle of teamwork. He related to the Gophers as he related to the team of Minnesota as resident, and as a team member of the United States to the threat of World War II. He saw that the principals of winning a football game applied to our American team standing up to existential threats. Jesus, thank You that this young man practiced a lifestyle of teamwork. He saw the necessity to rally his neighbors the same way he rallied his team. He chose to believe that winning is possible, therefore, it is. Will You give the same sense of integration and encouragement to our team’s leaders both present and future?

Bright One, thank You for the light shone through the life of number 54. He realized some brilliant insights early in his walk. Conceivably, the greatest moral of this event in state history is that experiencing heroism makes one want to call out other heroes.

Even as he was dying, he sought opportunities to lift up his team to be cancer survivors. He went out under the spiritual authority of his elders, Father Cantwell, and under You!He wanted share Your heart, the heart of a champion; the heart of faith. Thank You for Bruce Smith and his life of faithful servant leadership! Thanks for Cantwell and the ministry of the Paulist Fathers to: reach out, bring peace, and seek unity. Will You release our generations to: live the same heroic life of faith, to choose our response before a trial, and to be prepared for momentary greatness? We really can win this game! Amen!

“But God gave him back to life, having made him free from the pains of death because it was not possible for him to be overcome by it.” Acts 2:24 BBE ******

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://gophersports.com/sports/2018/5/21/sports-m-footbl-spec-rel-heisman-html.aspx
*** Written by Joe Christensen for Minneapolis StarTribune, December 12, 2016. http://www.startribune.com/bruce-smith-among-the-greatest-gophers-lifted-a-heisman-trophy-and-american-spirits-75-years-ago/404527966/?refresh=true
**** https://www.paulist.org/who-we-are/bio/fr-william-cantwell/
***** https://www.heisman.com/did-you-know-the-1940s-heismans/
****** https://biblehub.com/acts/2-24.htm

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20th Century, Americana, History, Minnesota, sports, Uncategorized

All-American Gopher

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1929
Gopher football legend Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is named All-American at tackle and fullback, the only player ever chosen at two positions.

Later a star with the Chicago Bears, Nagurski signs a contract for $5,000 and pockets another $50 for endorsing Wheaties cereal. After retiring in the 1940s, he will buy and run a gas station in International Falls.*

“(MINNESOTA)…6’2”, 226…BRONISLAW NAGURSKI . . .BECAME PRO FOOTBALL’S SYMBOL OF POWER, RUGGEDNESS. . . A BULLDOZING RUNNER ON OFFENSE, A BONE-CRUSHING LINEBACKER ON DEFENSE. . . GAINED 4031 YARDS IN 9 SEASONS . . .ALL-NFL, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937. . .HIS TWO TD PASSES CLINCHED BEARS’ 1933 TITLE WIN. . .HELPED 1943 BEARS TO NFL CROWN AFTER FIVE-YEAR RETIREMENT. . .BORN NOVEMBER 3, 1908, IN RAINY RIVER, ONTARIO. . .DIED JANUARY 7, 1990, AT AGE OF 81.” **

“Sports Illustrated named Nagurski one of the four greatest athletes in Minnesota state history (the other three were Dave Winfield, Kevin McHale, and Joe Mauer).” ***

What is it about tough guys that impress us so much, Father? More exactly, how do tough guys, like Bronko, reflect the image of their Creator? In the present era of kinder, gentler, and more sensitive maleness this could foster a normalcy bias crisis; how can a macho man give pleasure to a just G-d?

I think of the unnamed wife of Manoah that was addressed by the angel of the Lord;
“You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” **** Judges 13:5

Granted, Nagurski wasn’t fighting for the survival of his people like Samson, but he was given the gift of his physicality and strength. That alone is not enough to create a champion. Bronko clearly battled his opponents on the gridiron with the unstoppable heart of a champion; a spirit that would not give up!

So, this day we give You thanks for life of Bronko Nagurski! We thank You for the strength of his body, and of his mind. We see the unfailing love of G-d better through this image!

We thank You for the amount of work he did as a teen: delivering groceries, plowing, working the sawmill, and laboring at the timber camps. We thank You for this part of his life too, and that he chose to help out his folks and do a man’s work because he could. We see Your rewards for being faithful in small things that leads to bigger things.

We thank You that he chose to become a Minnesota Gopher. He added an unforgettable gravity to a team already formidable. His work ethic pushed his teammates to give 110% effort resulting in championships. We give You thanks for the way he contributed to bettering the University of Minnesota: in acclaim, in momentary greatness, and in ticket sales.

What I learn today sitting with You thinking on this; You love when we discover who we are, accept it, and live out our potential. Bronko was a tough kid from a no-nonsense place up north. He was accustomed to high alert, dangerous, and very physically demanding jobs.

Perhaps, this same work ethic is what made him a champion on the field? We give You thanks for Your work ethic on display through the life and career of Bronislau Nagurski. May we receive from You the same embrace of our gifts, a resolute spirit, and some holy toughness to power over, under, or through the challenges in front of us? Help us move the ball down field!

“He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength;
He goes out to meet the weapons.
He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
And he does not turn back from the sword.” Job 39:21-22

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** http://www.profootballhof.com/players/bronko-nagurski/
*** http://prowrestling.wikia.com/wiki/Bronko_Nagurski
**** Judges 13:5 http://biblehub.com/judges/13-5.htm

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20th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, sports

Streetcar Double Headers

April 1907
A heated sibling rivalry develops between the Twin Cities’ two pro baseball teams, the Saints and Millers. Streetcar doubleheaders are scheduled on Decoration Day, July 4, and Labor Day, with a game in each city.*

A bit of background is in order to help those who may not know much about the Twin Cities. There is definitely much in common between these two places, but it’s the distinctions that give each it’s flavor. They may not be thought of as ‘strong’ flavors by those who consider Minnesota ‘flyover country’, but that is a matter of taste.

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St. Paul is the older brother of Minneapolis. According to local legend, first two structures in St. Paul were a log trading post that doubled as a pub, and a log Catholic church. There are very strong communities derived from nations with a Roman Catholic heritage: Irish, French, Polish, Italian, and Mexican. This city leans blue-collar, tends to move slower, and with more respect for tradition.

1907 Spalding Guide - Hart - MPLS team

Minneapolis is the kid brother that just kept growing. It historically has been more Protestant, with residents mostly from Western and Northern European descent. It leans more white collar and entrepreneurial, with more nightlife to spend new money.

Holy Umpire, thanks for the heritage of baseball in Minnesota! What an awesome combination of sport with times for team play, and individual achievement! Baseball truly is a mirror of the best attributes of our culture.
Unfortunately, Saints and Millers reflect the darker sides of our nature too. Sometimes we, as fans attempted to “help” our home team. Check out this example of ‘sportsmanship from 100 years ago;

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“The newspapers joined the struggle, firing their artillery at enemy camps across the Mississippi River. In the 1890s, when both cities were represented in the Western League, the Minneapolis Tribune leveled a charge of “dirty ball” against its neighbors to the east, the Saints, who were owned and managed at that time by Charles Comiskey. “Manager Comiskey,” reported the Tribune, “will be served with a formal notice that the Minneapolis club will not play today’s game unless guaranteed that there will be no spiking of Minneapolis players, no interference on the part of the crowd, no throwing of rocks, no throwing of dust and dirt in the eyes of the Minneapolis players, and a few other tricks which the game yesterday was featurized by.” “ Thornley, Stew. On to Nicollet: The Glory and Fame of the Minneapolis Millers.**,***

God, thanks that You gave a home team to enjoy and be proud of. Will You forgive us for when we have gone overboard and over identify ourselves with a baseball team? Will You forgive harsh words that were sowed then between Minneapolis and St. Paul that still smart today?

Today I want to acknowledge specific sports offenses to You. We have loved winning more than losing, but doesn’t losing build character? We have loved showboat personalities more than the team at times, but innately we know that a single player can’t win the game. We can behave like spoiled brats at games, then lecture our kids about the importance of sportsmanship. God help our ERA and our era! Have mercy on our inconsistent batting average with beloved rivals of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thanks that these hostilities birthed a solution; the Minnesota Twins! Will You help us find creative ways to find common ground with our rivals today?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Peruse this wonderful link to the complete article by Stew Thornley. http://www.stewthornley.net/millers_paydays.html

***Dig into a book on the Saint Paul Saints, again, by Stew Thornley. http://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/st-paul-saints

 

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20th Century, Faith, History, horses, Minnesota, sports

Dan Patch Sets Record

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Sep 8, 1906
The great Dan Patch is the king of American harness racing. The big bay stallion, stabled in Savage, sets a record time for the mile at the State Fair in 1906 and lends his name to products and promotions.*

“Dan Patch’s official record of 1:55¼ for the pacing mile was set in 1905 in Lexington, Kentucky. His 1:55 unofficial record for the pacing mile was set in 1906 at the Minnesota State Fair, but not officially recognized because of the use of a prompter with a windshield. This record was tied 32 years later in 1938 when Billy Direct became the official 1:55 world record holder. Marion Savage was so indignant about Dan Patch’s 1:55 mark not being recognized (the rules having recently been changed) that he renamed the International Stock Food Farm in Savage to the International 1:55 Stock Food Farm. The 1:55 mark was equaled in following years, but was not broken until 1960, 54 years after Dan Patch’s run, when Adios Butler paced the first sub-1:55 mile in 1:54:3. Dan Patch’s fastest race mile was 1:58.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Patch

What a joy people must have felt on that day in 1906 as they watched Dan Patch break the world’s record for the mile! What was it like to witness all the stars lining up? What a rush to see horse, driver, and sulky (cart) perform flawlessly, all executing their purpose as one? You surely gave them a glimpse of Your triune nature; three facets of a personality operating in unity towards a divine purpose! (Is this what Freud attempted to portray in his model of the ID, ego, and superego? Our beings’ a reflection of the Trinity: conscious, unconscious, and the ‘I AM’?)

It is amazing to think of the impact that Dan Patch had on the state of Minnesota. He became an icon in harness racing! He represented the faith,persistence, and excellence of his owners and handlers in this training-intensive sport. Thank You, Lord, for the inspiration that this single horse race gave to Minnesota!

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Marion Savage

photo- http://www.danpatch.com

Today I wish to remember the plight of owner Marion Savage.** What a crushing blow to achieve a perfect race, and then have that achievement unrecognized by a change in the rules after the fact! Too often our society lives by the Golden Rule; those who have the gold make the rules.

Will You forgive Mr. Savage his righteous indignation, as You forgive those who may be responsible for stealing his record through parliamentary procedure? Will You heal his pain, and uproot how any bitterness from this event transferred to racing participants past, present, and future? Will You stop any heritage of injustice that branches from this questionable rules change in harness racing?

We perpetually wrestle with this question: why must we forgive when we are the ones who have been wronged? Christ, why did You say, “…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,…”? Matthew 5:44 NIV Perhaps one answer is suggested by the man who famously wrote, “Gott ist tot.” (God is dead.) “The life of the enemy. Whoever lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in the enemy’s staying alive.” Nietzsche

It appears that Your interest in forgiving, even when we have been wronged, is that we do not become prisoners to an offense made against us. You do not want us to carry the weight that hampers our personality, and even destroys our bodies with ulcers, cancers, and mental illness. Will You be our horse in the race; both now and forevermore?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Please enjoy the “Dan Patch Historical Society”! http://www.danpatch.com/marion-w-savage.html

 

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20th Century, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, sports

Charles (Chief) Bender Makes Major League Debut

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Chief Bender

sabr.org

Apr 20, 1903
Charles Albert Bender, an Ojibway Indian, plays his first major league baseball game for the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team. Known as “Chief” Bender, the Brainerd pitcher helps the A’s win five pennants, sets a World Series strike-out record, and in 1953 becomes the first Minnesotan inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His career record is 212 wins and 127 losses.*

Thank You for the life of Charles Albert Bender, his contributions to the Athletics, and the inspiration he gave to Minnesotans. Thank You for ensuring his well-being in childhood. As scholar Melissa Meyer writes, “during the early years of Charley’s childhood White Earth was destitute. At White Earth, the family lived in a log house on a small farm. The Benders had to be self-sufficient and they were not the only ones. Things were so meager that as a young boy Charley supposedly went to work, taking a job as a farmhand for a dollar a week.”**

Thank You for his perseverance in the face of ethnic prejudice. He did not allow slights, contempt, and assumptions made by his detractors to drag him down!
“Though proud of his American Indian heritage, Bender resented the bigotry and the moniker he and nearly every other Indian ballplayer of the time received. ‘I do not want my name to be presented to the public as an Indian, but as a pitcher,’ he told Sporting Life in 1905.”***

Lord, forgive our assessments of another based on an kind of external measure. We have failed to see past our prejudices. We have failed to see Your gifts within those of a group deemed “unacceptable”. We write our brothers and sisters off before we even know them a little!?

There could be many causes for prejudice, and I do not pretend to know what the root causes were for discrimination for Ojibway people. I do not know what fears, in particular, there may be towards Ojibway men. I will only try to acknowledge to You things that are common roots of judgement.

Lord, forgive us our stereotypes, past, present, and future of Native American men. Forgive our misbeliefs that may place us higher or lower, inferior or superior! We love and embrace our heritage, our cultural DNA, but we, like Bender, do not want to be limited by it. Will You free Minnesotans of our judgments of the Ojibway nation, and all first nations of our state? Conversely, will You free the Ojibway from their counter-judgments of all non-native nations and peoples that have, are, or will reside here?

Lord, will You forgive us our vanity that comes through expertise? Often, we seem to be the most blind in the areas we excel. Perhaps it is because we invest so much in our areas of strength that we become less aware of our need of relationship with others, or Your Eternal Mind. Bender probably was the most hurt by the prejudice of those on his own team. Lord, we have betrayed those on our own team. Will You show us a new way? Will You give us your unshakable security, so that we do not need the accolades of our peers? Will You give us humility if they do not worship us or our achievements properly?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**The White Earth Tragedy: Ethnicity and Dispossession at a Minnesota Anishinaabe Reservation, 1889-1920 by Melissa L. Meyer (University of Nebraska Press, 1994)
***Swift, Tom.”Chief Bender.”Society for American Baseball Research.2013.Web.14Aug.2013. http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/03

****Need to see the Chief’s statistics? http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bendech01.shtml

 

 

 

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20th Century, History, Jesus, Minnesota, Prayer, sports, Uncategorized

Professional Baseball 1902

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The Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints join teams from six other Midwest cities to form the American Association. Baseball became the first professional sport in Minnesota back in the 1890s. The Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints join teams from six other Midwest cities to form the American Association. Baseball became the first professional sport in Minnesota back in the 1890s.*

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Thank You for this joining of teams to form the American Association! Specifically, thank You for the Millers and the Saints who saw the future benefit of this league. Thank You that we have enjoyed the freedom of association in this place for so long!
Thank You for the blessings of the sport of baseball: teamwork, diligent practice, exercise, and the fun and challenge of competition! Thank you for the comraderie grown here by the simple act of belonging to a team. Wow! That’s a big one! Every kid needs somewhere they belong, and to feel that they have something to contribute to the group!
Thank You that for the low entry cost of baseball: a bat, a ball, and a glove. Thank You that success in this game is not dependent on physical attributes to the degree it is in other sports. Baseball players represent just about every body type: thick guys can hit the ball a mile, tall guys can stretch farther when they pitch, thin guys guy use their agility for fielding and stealing bases, etc. Thank You for the lack of contact in baseball, and the focus on sportsmanship and skill!
It is amazing to live in a place where a passion can become a career! These few teams believed in their sport enough to enable the dedicated to carve new occupations out of thin air. The notion of being paid to play a sport to the average Minnesotan three generations ago who lived and worked on a farm must have seemed new and strange.
May it always feel like a privilege to play professional baseball!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**Complete record of the Millers vs. the Saints 1902-1960. http://millers-saints.com

 

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19th Century, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, sports

Softball Invented in Minneapolis 1895

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Minneapolis fireman Lewis Rober invented outdoor softball in 1895. Called kitten ball by Rober, who hand-made the leather balls himself. Rober was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame in 1996.*

What is significant about the invention of this game? What makes challenging another to a team sport appealing? Is it simply about getting some exercise? Jesus, guide my thoughts and heart this day. Help me bless and confess what may stem from the invention of kittenball.

Thank you for Lewis Rober, and his desire to organize a fun activity for his firemen. Waiting is fatiguing enough, let alone waiting for events that may involve risking one’s life. By inventing a kitten ball, bigger and softer than a baseball, he made a wonderful sport that occupied his firefighters, gave them exercise, and perhaps most importantly, took their minds off the incessant waiting for danger! Will You bless the heritage of Lewis Rober, of all who have, are, or will play the game he loved so much?

Next, it seems important to meditate on the nature of competitive sport. A challenge can be a fun test or a fight without weapons, therefore testing the character and heart of the players. Frequently, children are told to “be a good sport” in their games by parents who are quite inconsistent in modeling that same.

So, our kids go through this mental wrestling match: wanting the glory of winning vs. contentment in a game well-played. We see the benefit of them facing “fight or flight” challenges as a means of conditioning them for life’s tests, and building endurance and tenacity in adversity. We teach them to choose their attitude with phrases like, “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”

Yet, we often fail to see these same benefits on a cosmic scale. So often we judge Your character, and wonder: “Why would a Father send his son to die? Why would a G-d of love allow this natural disaster? Why do the rich fleece the poor, generation after generation? Why does an all-powerful being allow hunger, genocide, terrorism, and war?” It seems consistent with the theme that good parents sometimes allow their kids to experience the effects of the “bad sports”, without intervention, even though they have the ability to spare them.

It may seem like a jump, to go from kitten ball to genocide, but You are are the King of Quantum Leaps. You are before time, in time, and beyond time. You observed the exact moment, the exact decision, that led a benevolent ruler’s heart from leading all the people to choosing the tyranny that exists beyond the law. Yet, many times You have chosen not to intervene.

Why? Why should we be faced over and over throughout the span of time with the decision to hate our enemy, or love our enemy? Do You want us to shake hands with evil and say “Good game”? You box us in and force us to choose: “What will it be today, forgiveness or bitterness? What world do you want to create? Do you want to be a microcosm of division, or unity?”

Have mercy Lord! If we still haven’t learned to play softball, what will we do in the face of hardball! There is so little love in us for those that offend, disgrace, and injure us in small ways. What will we do in the face of the atrocities of this age? Give us enough love for this day! Give us grace that overcomes our opponent with a game well-played! Will You make us firefighters in our field today?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

** Take a peek at the birthplace of kittenball; the Minneapolis Fire Department? http://www.extraalarm.org/ltrober.htm

***Fire Station No. 19 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_Station_No._19_(Minneapolis,_Minnesota)

 

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