When I was in graduate school in my early twenties, I spent a few summers working at the parking garages outside Fenway Park. Now, you might think that’s a high profile job for a young person. I mean I did have the red “STAFF” shirt and all. But you have to understand that in the world of Fenway Park-related employees, the parking attendants are at the bottom rung.
You’d think that maybe I’d get a free game every once in a while. “Good job, a lot of hard work running around moving peoples’ cars, getting our important customers in and out of the park each game. Come on in and enjoy a game!” Never happened! The media folks watched or announced the game, the groundscrew met and hung out with the players. The police details were everywhere inside and outside the park, in the dugouts, on TV. The concessions employees got to see the game, enjoy the ambiance inside the park, even get some free food. Even the clean up crew got the inside scoop. But the parking attendants? Nothing. No free game, no free food, no meeting the players, no TV, no seeing stolen bases and strikeouts or homeruns, or streakers, or the wave. I couldn’t get past the entry gates with my red “STAFF” shirt any more than a drunk stranger with a Yankee hat. Nothing.
But there was one thing we did get. It was really the one thing that everyone who goes to games wants, but that hardly anyone ever gets. But we got it.
You see, the parking garage where I worked was right behind the Green Monster.
That means that we got the homerun balls.
Yes, batting practice, games, it was us the parking attendants who got the actual baseballs that were the biggest hits in the park.
One weekend, Mark McGwire was in town for the Oakland A’s. By the middle of Sunday, he had already hit 4 home runs, and tied a record. The next at-bat, he hit another one over the Green Monster, and after a little chase, I came up with the ball under a car on the parking deck. A few minutes later, while everyone else was walking away disappointed, one man walked up to me and introduced himself and began to ask me a bunch of questions. The next day, a Providence newspaper featured a whole article about Mark McGwire and me. I still have the ball. And the article. Oh, and I made sure to tell everyone about it.
Down here in Ecuador, I am not in the mainstream. I’m not in the mainstream of the world, in what’s happening back home in Boston, even what’s going on in the mainstream in the Church. Down here, in the little place called Puerto Quito, we are outside of the ballpark. There are no perks here. That’s too bad, because there are a lot of great things going on everywhere in the mainstream, and everywhere there you get to share in the experience.
But, there is something we do get here. You know, it’s the thing that I think everyone really wants, but that’s hard to get. But it’s here.
Here, outside of the park, with no perks … we get God’s homerun balls.
Being inside the stadium of life is a beautiful thing. We see the great things that God does. But if you are outside the park, without perks, remember that you are in the best position, the position to get what everyone really wants, and to have your name put next to God’s name for everyone to know.
You are in position to get God’s homerun balls.
For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor 1:26-29)