I’d like to tell you about a wonderful weekend that revolved around some of my favorite people and favorite things in life. I’m referring to my wife, Jean, and our boys, Trent and Troy. I’m also talking about children adopted from foster care, children in foster care, and the great and glorious game of baseball.
The story begins here in Colorado at the ballpark of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. They’re the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
Last Saturday night, Focus on the Family hosted scores of adoptive and foster families—about 200 kids and parents in all—at the Sky Sox game. Our outing started several hours before the game when the kids and their families were invited onto the field to play catch.
During the game, the children were treated to hot dogs, hamburgers, and other snacks. They even had unlimited access to the park’s Fun Zone—complete with an inflatable slide, a bounce house and monkey bars. Afterward, each child was given a real leather glove and baseball souvenir.
Most of the children we hosted had never been to a ballgame, let alone invited onto the freshly manicured field. They were ecstatic! Some, like eight-year old Breanna, were nervous at first but quickly embraced their time “between the lines.” Every child smiled from ear to ear. I overheard one boy saying, “Dad, we should come here every year!”
As much as I savored the time tossing the ball and watching the game with Trent and Troy, I especially loved seeing the reactions of awe and wonder on the faces of the other kids. They were jazzed! To appreciate how this evening came together, a little context might be helpful.
Over the course of my 48 years, I’ve never been compared to the legendary Babe Ruth, a man who was arguably the most famous baseball player in the world. But the Babe and I do share an unenviable thing in common: we both came from broken homes. Thankfully, we also share something else more positive, too—big hearts for little kids.
George Herman Ruth was born well over 100 years ago, in 1895. He was born at a time when poor families often dropped their kids off at orphanages in the hope of giving them a better life. Little George was just seven years old when his father relinquished custody of him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory and orphange in Baltimore.
Like me, the Babe’s mother died when he was still young—and his father, who ran a saloon, paid little attention to him.
Sadly, I can relate. My own father was an alcoholic who could just never beat that horrible habit. He regularly promised me things but failed to follow through on his promises—most notably a new baseball glove for my 7th birthday. I believed him. I trusted him. I waited for his arrival on the curb outside our house for hours. But he never came and my confidence in him was crushed.
Like my own father, Babe Ruth was many things to many people, a character of characters. He was known for carousing and hard living. But when it came to kids, the Babe was a softie. Why shouldn’t he be? He knew full well the pain of rejection from his own father. Throughout his career he committed himself to loving the unlovable and befriending the friendless, especially young boys who loved baseball.
Babe Ruth once told a reporter, “I won’t be happy until we have every boy in America between the ages of six and sixteen wearing a glove and swinging a bat.” Don’t you love that? Throughout his 21-year career, he famously visited sick children, hosted youngsters at the ballpark, and spent hours talking with them before and after his games.
With that in mind, I think the Babe would have felt right at home last Saturday in our hometown stadium for that special evening.
I’m thrilled to report that Focus on the Family’s Wait No More program—our initiative to raise awareness of kids in foster care awaiting adoption—has been especially successful here in Colorado. The Department of Human Services cites Wait No More as one of the contributing factors to a drop in the number of foster children waiting to be adopted from about 800 in 2008 to 365 in 2010.
Let’s not forget there’s a name and a precious child behind every number—and some of those children were at the ballpark with their new parents this past Saturday night. In hosting the event, it was our hope that we could communicate a very simple but significant message: Every life matters and every child is deserving of a safe and loving home.
The impetus behind our decision to provide a glove for our young friends is probably obvious. In looking back on my own life, my father following through on his promise of a new glove wouldn’t have healed every hurt, but it’s the small things in life that go a very long way.
In that spirit, Focus on the Family recently donated 200 additional gloves to a coach who works with underprivilged young ballplayers. Maybe there’s another Babe Ruth in the making in that group? Who knows, right?
If the glove fits . . .
By the way, if you’ve ever considered adoption, consider visiting icareaboutorphans.org to learn more about how you can make a huge difference in the life of a precious child.