Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Gifts of Derek Jeter’s 3000th Hit

Derek Jeter did the seemingly impossible with unthinkable style on a day festooned with stunning aspects of giving.

Derek, who was born in Pompton Plains, NJ in the same hospital as two of my children, has been giving the athletic world and the New York Yankees a notable gift of honored living since joining the team in 1995. The son of a family who follows and supports his every “at bat,” Jeter was two away from the 3,000 hit mark on Saturday, July 9. It was a day of giving, made weather flawless by the pristine July day to cheer the sell-out crowd of 45,000 plus in the new Yankee Stadium.

Derek smacked a single to give him 2,999 hits. The next time at bat, he dueled pitcher David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays to a 3-2 count. On the next pitch, Jeter smacked a homer to become the 28th player and the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits.

If that giving wasn’t enough, Jeter went on to drive three more balls into fair play making it a perfect outing of 5 for 5 at the plate and reaching 3,003 career hits. Some even spoke cautiously of him somehow getting to 4,000.

In another gift for fans, Christian Lopez sitting with his father in the far off stands, somehow managed to snare Jeter’s homerun ball. Lopes promptly went with Yankee officials and graciously gave Jeter this valuable sphere estimated to be worth up to $300,000 at open auction. Lopes stated that Derek had earned the honor and deserved the ball. In another gift-giving sidelight, Lopez revealed that his girlfriend had given him that day’s ticket as a gift.

The Yankees countered Lopez’ grace by giving him up to $32,000 worth of choice season seating and special team memorabilia. (The unbending IRS claims it all income and is likely to impose heavy taxes, underscoring the old adage that “No good deed goes unpunished.” How this is reasonable eludes me at the moment, but then who ever did understand the Internal Revenue Service?)

Except for the IRS marring the day, it was s special season of giving: Derek’s family gave him guidance and encouragement. (As someone noted, “His father was with him at every at bat during his career.”) A girlfriend gave a ticket. Derek gave the fans a historic baseball moment. And then Lopez gave back a home run ball in stirring generosity.

But who gave those people all things to enjoy? God gives the weather, and He created all the materials from which stadiums are made. He grants life and health and ability to athletes, and He implants a generous and grateful spirit even in a mere game attendee.

God is the greatest gift-giver according to James 1:5. “…God…gives to all liberally and without reproach….” describes the character of God as abundantly generous. His supreme focus of gift-giving centers on the Lord Jesus Christ in the famous John 3:16 explanation: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
I hope all involved with Derek Jeter’s great gift to baseball will somehow find ultimate fulfillment in God’s supreme gift in Christ.

Dave Virkler

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