One of the least-noticed components to the festivities at the Big Game between Bangor Area Celebrity All Stars and Bangor Alternative Baseball yesterday was the pre-game prayer offered by Coach Mike Vining. It was simple and brief, invoking the blessing and safekeeping of all present by the Almighty, but it was important to Coaches Mike, Kevin, and Tim that the prayer be said. All three men, in their love of baseball and teaching the sport, love God even more, and they coach and teach because of their desire to bring glory to God. He’s the one they defer thanks and praise to when we express our gratitude to them for all the work they do on our players’ behalf, because they believe that God is the one that blessed them with the skills, abilities, and gift of coaching. So, that quiet prayer before the game began was an essential acknowledgement by them of the centrality of where their hearts are, and for whom, ultimately, they coach and love our team. They love with the love shown to them by God first. It overflows from Him to them to our team. Pretty amazing, I’d say.
As fervently as they believe these things, though, they’re not going to ram their beliefs down anyone’s throats. Their beliefs are their foundation, yes, but from there they have developed the knowledge and skill required to teach and coach baseball beautifully, carefully, with compassion, enthusiasm, and precision. We saw that on display last night in spades! The excitement I’ve shared before that we families have during regular practices was magnified at our game yesterday by the crowd that was drawn to see Bangor Alternative Baseball strut its stuff! How many times did you hear someone say something like, “This is so much fun!” or “Why did we wait so long to do this?” or “It’s about time we had a team/league like this!” or anything like that?
Everyone I talked to was thrilled to have been present. One man we know that came to the game and had to leave early for a prior commitment, made the point of calling our house later in the evening to talk to our son. “You did a great job out there, Christian!” he said. “Thanks for inviting me!”
I can only imagine how many of you heard those four words after last night: “Thanks for inviting me!” With the help of countless men and women behind the scenes, we drew a crowd! We had fun!
On my way to work this morning, I flipped on the radio and heard Wayne Harvey talking about this game on 92.9 The Ticket FM on ‘The Morning Line,’ the show he hosts. He was describing to his colleagues the absolute excitement and enjoyment of the game for him and fellow All Stars like Matt Kinney, and how much they want to see ABO come to life in Maine in places like Ellsworth, Lincoln, Belfast, Waterville, Lewiston-Auburn, Portland–any place qualified coaches are willing and able to take on this opportunity, and supporters like the wonderful people in our area will support the program–as Wayne said on the radio this morning, “The question isn’t finding players; it’s finding coaches and support personnel.”
Even the residents of the correctional facility where I teach agree that it’s high time for Maine to do this. One is making the fleece hats you may have seen me modeling at practices and the game–baby blue with “B A B” on the side. He’s in the process of making enough of those for the whole team, as a donation.
Thanks so much for being part of Bangor Alternative Baseball 2021. We truly couldn’t do this without you. We’re also thankful to Taylor Duncan, the Commissioner of the Alternative Baseball Organization, for developing ABO in the first place. His struggles led to his dream of making this wonderful game accessible for teens and adults with autism and other disabilities. Like our coaches, Taylor trusts in God to help him through life, and we are grateful for his leadership to give Mike, Kevin, and Tim what they needed to start Alternative Baseball in our community!
For all the Little League, fall league, Special Olympics, and other games I’ve seen in Maine, we love to cheer on our players. We seem primed for other ABO teams to join BAB for 2022. Spread the word! Share the excitement! Draw a crowd!