It’s that time of year when all those professional baseball players put away their recliners and munchies, step away from the big-screen TV, and start stretching and warming up for the new season. Yes, spring training time has arrived.
Since 1870—when the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings sponsored baseball camps in the city of New Orleans—spring training has become an institution across the Sun Belt. From Fort Myers to Phoenix, major league teams take advantage of the warm weather in Florida and Arizona to knock off those winter cobwebs and get in shape for a long, 162-game regular season.
Well, if spring training is so helpful to those warriors of the grass diamond, wouldn’t it be helpful to the princes of the pulpit? Why don’t we have spring training for preachers?
Just imagine: Early each year, preachers from across America find their way to spring training churches in small Florida towns, ready to stretch their vocal chords and get back into full homiletical form. Can’t you just picture them? Row after row of preachers at practice pulpits going through the paces—practicing those powerful gestures, sliding into home with a great illustration, hitting those expositions over the fence. It’s enough to make Billy Sunday smile.
Think baseball and preaching don’t have that much in common? Consider these well-known baseball clichés and see if they don’t fit some preachers you know:
• Swing and a miss.
• He’s really throwing some heat.
• He took something off that pitch.
• He’s capable of going the distance.
• He uncorked a wild pitch.
• He’s been roughed up in his last four outings.
• He’s in a slump, and he’s pressing.
• He was swinging for the fence.
• He really got a hold of that one.
• He hit a rocket.
• Kiss that one goodbye—it’s outta here!
And my all-time favorite:
• Stick a fork in him—he’s done.