Tag: sports

Faith helped baseball coach Tony Beasley beat cancer

Faith helped baseball coach Tony Beasley beat cancer

Texas Rangers’ ‘inspiration’ sings the national anthem on Opening Day.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service

ARLINGTON, Texas (RNS) Tony Beasley never lost faith, even when he was diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s been an opportunity for me to be who I said I am,” said Beasley, the third base coach for the Texas Rangers. “My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 5:7: ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight.’ To have an opportunity to actually live that out was a blessing.”

With a giant U.S. flag unfurled in the outfield grass and a sellout crowd of 48,350 standing to honor America, all attention centered on Beasley this week (April 3) as he returned full time to the game he loves after a year spent battling rectal cancer.

“An inspiration to us all” is how longtime Rangers public address announcer Chuck Morgan introduced the 50-year-old coach, who was invited to sing the national anthem on Opening Day.

“You can ask anybody in here just how big an impact Beasley has on everybody as far as his faith and his attitude — it’s just contagious,” outfielder Delino DeShields told a reporter in the Rangers’ clubhouse at Globe Life Park. “Even last year, he came in with a smile on his face and always had positive words.”

Under blue skies on a 76-degree night, Beasley offered a soulful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and couldn’t help but reflect on his emotional journey of the past year.

“I actually closed my eyes when I sang, just to keep in rhythm with the beat and to block out the delay,” the coach said. “But it was an honor. It was a blessing.

“This time last year, I was undergoing chemotherapy,” added Beasley, who received his cancer diagnosis in January 2016, “and to be able to be back at full capacity, I just thank God for that.”

Read the rest of the story.

Religion News Service is a national wire service with more than 100 secular and religious media subscribers, including USA Today, the Washington Post and NPR.

There’s a reason Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully kept mentioning God during his farewell tour

There’s a reason Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully kept mentioning God during his farewell tour

Also: Follow-up: Why sports columnist thought story of Vin Scully’s faith was so important to tell.

This analysis of media coverage by Bobby Ross Jr. appears online at GetReligion.org.

Christian universities put on ‘shame list’

Christian universities put on ‘shame list’

Gay-rights organizations target federal funding and NCAA ties of schools with traditional biblical beliefs.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

Revoke Christian universities’ eligibility for federal student financial aid.

Strip their membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

That’s what major gay-rights groups would like to do with higher education schools that espouse traditional biblical beliefs on sexuality and gender identity.

“Some voices are calling for Christian schools to be expelled from the NCAA, and others are calling for Pell Grants to be denied to students who attend our universities,” said Bruce McLarty, president of 6,000-student Harding University in Searcy, Ark. “These attacks seem to be coming from every direction these days.”

At Harding, students received $54 million in federal loans and grants last year — 45 percent of the university’s total budget of $120 million.

It would be a major loss if the government ever took away students’ access to federal funding.

“My hands shake as I write those numbers!” the Harding president said in an email. “The good news is that the largest part of that figure is from loan money, and that can be replaced even if at a higher cost (interest rate) to students.”

Read the full story.

Related story:

•  The challenges facing faith-based universities (reporting from Nashville, Tenn.)

These stories appear in the July 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Does ‘turn the other cheek’ apply to a baseball brawl?

Does ‘turn the other cheek’ apply to a baseball brawl?

After Rougned Odor’s now-famous punch of Jose Bautista, ministers and other church members debate whether a Christian can — or should — cheer for on-field violence.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

ARLINGTON, Texas — “Turn the other cheek” sounds so simple in Sunday morning Bible class.

The concept becomes a little more difficult when you’re a rabid Texas Rangers fan, sitting in the stands with 41,000 other cheering spectators, as a big-time baseball brawl breaks out.

That was the case Sunday afternoon for Travis Akins, young adults minister for the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.

Akins, his wife, Laura, and their four children were enjoying the Rangers’ dramatic, come-from-behind win over the Toronto Blue Jays when a hit batter, a hard slide and the now-famous “Baseball Punch to End All Baseball Punches” occurred.

“I was into it,” Travis Akins said of Texas second baseman Rougned Odor’s pummeling of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. “Not the punch necessarily, but the whole atmosphere and the emotion of the moments. My kids … were wondering what was going on and why Dad was screaming.”

A few Christian Chronicle readers may recall that your friendly correspondent is a longtime Rangers fan. I first wrote about my love of God, family and baseball for the Chronicle a decade ago. And I’ve mentioned it a time or two since.

I was in the stands for the Texas-Toronto games on Friday and Saturday nights, but when the benches cleared Sunday afternoon, I was at the Keller Church of Christ for my nephew Nick’s graduating senior celebration.

However, when I heard about what happened, my Rangers fan adrenaline certainly surged.

Read the full column.

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

He pitches with heart — a brand new one

He pitches with heart — a brand new one

Kansas high school senior calls life-saving transplant “an absolute gift from God.”

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

GODDARD, Kan. — It’s a picture-perfect afternoon for baseball as Josh Oakley steps to the mound: blue sky, soft breeze and 71 degrees.

Fifteen family members — two parents, four grandparents, three of Oakley’s five older sisters and six nieces and nephews — cheer as the high school senior delivers his first pitch.

The Eisenhower Tiger’s white-and-baby-blue jersey — with No. 10 on the back — covers a footlong scar down his chest.

That scar helps explain what makes this start so remarkable: Less than six months earlier, Darrell and DeVona Oakley’s youngest child — their only son — received a new heart.

“It’s an absolute gift from God to still be able to play this game,” said Josh Oakley, 18, a member of the Northside Church of Christ in Wichita, about 15 miles east of this suburban community of 4,600.

When the Kansas City Royals began their World Series-winning postseason run this past October, Josh Oakley lay unconscious at Children’s Mercy Hospital in that same Missouri city.

His family feared they just might lose him.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the June 2016 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Why Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris was baptized in his baseball uniform

Why Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris was baptized in his baseball uniform

One of the major leagues’ top young prospects, Norris seeks to give all the glory to God.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

DETROIT — The 16-year-old pitching phenom stepped into the baptistery wearing his high school baseball uniform.

Fresh dirt stains splotched his white uniform pants as Daniel Norris crept barefoot into the water to confess his faith in Jesus Christ and be immersed for the forgiveness of sins.

The hard-throwing lefty’s brother-in-law put his hand on Norris’ shoulder — just above the bright red No. 18 on his dark jersey top — and reflected on the significance of the choice.

“This is something that Daniel has been thinking about, and a lot of people have been praying about, for a long time,” Tim Haywood told a small group of family and friends at the Central Church of Christ, Norris’ home congregation in the East Tennessee mountain community of Johnson City. “In just a few moments, he’s not just going to be my brother-in-law anymore, but he’s going to be my brother.”

Norris, now 22 and a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, made the decision to be baptized after a regional tournament win for his hometown Science Hill High School, where he also starred in football and basketball.

Read the full story.

Related column: Take me out to the ballgame

These stories appear in the October 2015 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

After a weekend in Kansas City, revisiting my low ranking for the Royals’ Kauffman Stadium

Nose bleedin' in Kansas City. #goRangers

A post shared by Bobby Ross Jr. (@bobbyrossjr) on

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“Take me out to the ball game” is my blog on major-league ballparks and the wonders of witnessing America’s favorite pastime up close.

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By Bobby Ross Jr.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — I was wrong.

Back in February, I ranked the 18 major-league ballparks I’ve visited:

Continue reading “After a weekend in Kansas City, revisiting my low ranking for the Royals’ Kauffman Stadium”