New Year’s Eve
Ted Williams is generally considered the greatest hitter in the history of major league baseball.
Two events from his career speak about the concept of “finishing strong.”
In 1941, Williams entered the last day of the season with a batting average of .3995. This would qualify him for a rounded off average of .400 and make him the first hitter in seventeen years to achieve that mark.
His team, the Boston Red Sox, had a meaningless doubleheader that day and by sitting out these two games, Williams could end the year at .400.
However that wasn’t the Ted Williams way. He played in both games, and when the dust had settled, he’d gotten 5 hits in 7 at bats to finish with an average of .406. No one has hit above .400 level in the seventy years since 1941.
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Ted Williams retired at the end of the 1960 season at the age of forty-two. In his last at bat in the final game of the year, he hit a home run. Old news footage shows Williams rounding the bases with a skip in his step and joy on his face.
He hit a home run in his last at bat. That’s finishing strong.
Finishing strong. We’re remembered not by how we started, but how we finish.
Like Ted Williams, the Apostle Paul was a man of passion. He had an unyielding love for the Lord Jesus. In many of his writings, he expresses a strong desire to finish the work assigned to him by God.
Paul understood that how we finish is how we are remembered. Living in a day where his listeners understood about athletes, he compared it to striving to finish the race and win the prize. The first runner out of the blocks isn’t always remembered. It’s the one who finishes first.
Paul’s words speak to this:
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy . . . . .” Acts 20:24
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“If it’s worth doing, it is worth doing right- especially if it is for God!”
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P.S. One of my favorite anecdotes involves a baseball discussion. “What do you think Ted Williams would hit if he was playing against today’s pitchers?”
“Well, he’d be about ninety-four years old, so I don’t expect he’d do too well.”