Everyone knows the name Mark McGuire. Though having retired from baseball over 10 years ago he was the first to surpass the legendary Roger Maris who hit 61 homeruns back in 1961. In 1997 he came close, having hit 58 home runs. The next year, 1998, was to be the greatest year of his slugging career when he would hit 70 home runs and eclipse a record that stood for 37 years. Early into that season he set another record, becoming the only player in major league baseball to hit the most home runs through the first two months of the season.
It was one of the most memorable times in baseball history, despite the steroid scandal that would later affect him and many other famous players. But I discovered something interesting about Mark McGuire as I was looking over his statistics for that year. During that storied first two months he had as many strikeouts as he had hits and twice as many strikeouts as he had home runs. Do you realize what a strikeout means to a player? It represents a failure to even make contact with the ball, let alone put it into the seats. And as that season progressed and he got closer to the record, the fans began to boo him every time he struck out. Never mind that he was about to accomplish the dream of almost every young man who ever picked up a baseball bat. Fan pressure, media pressure, and many internal pressures caused him to strike out even more, even as he approached the record and acquired one of the most elusive prizes of his trade.
But the reason so many promising home run kings never made it to 61, and the record stood for so long, was that they couldn’t handle the pressure, especially the internal pressures. Sometimes it can be almost unbearable to strike out and watch the smug smile grow on the opposing pitcher’s face and hear the crowd boo you and call you a bum. Success isn’t just a matter of being a good hitter. It has to do with all those other things as well, Boy, it seems to me there ought to be a lesson about life in here somewhere. What do you think?
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship