Making Dad – and Mom – proud today

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Buddy Green, Cam Smith, Jordan Lewis, Brian Morgan, Beau Shellnutt, Brandon Ruston, Jeffrey Ginn and Robert Massenburg hand out T-shirts, foam balls and Spanish language Bibles to families and children in a squatters village just outside Cancun, Mexico. 

Father’s Day and baseball have become synonymous for boys and their dads. Today’s no different. The fields at the Temple Avenue Complex here in Newnan will crown USSSA substate champions in both 6-under and 8-under divisions. 

Elsewhere, All-Stars representing Coweta will take the field in front of their fathers, some who have equally volunteered their time as coaches. 

In the years to come, many of those same dads will look forward to watching their boys mature into outstanding varsity players, some as talented as those who played for area high schools on the field this spring. 

But the ones that participated in this year’s annual Baseball4Christ mission trip continue to set the bar much higher. In addition to excelling on the field, they sacrificed part of their summer not so much to take a vacation to Mexico, but to experience a world with much different surroundings than here at home in Coweta County. 

The 13 current varsity baseball players that have been a part of Baseball4Christ’s fourth trip will be away from dad for most of Father’s Day. There aren’t any ballgames or barbecues on the schedule, just a long flight home following an even longer week of activities that have challenged their faith as much as their baseball skills on the field. 

For that, their fathers — and mothers, for that matter — ought to share in that pride together on Father’s Day. Once again, those boys have brought out the best in Coweta County, both on and off the field.

As majestic as Cancun, Mexico, can be for a vacation, the view wasn’t always breathtakingly pleasant.

This year’s group again visited with children and families, most living in impoverished conditions in houses that are smaller than their own varsity baseball facilities at home — others tinier than their home dugout. The classrooms they’ve passed through were equally cramped, with bare floors and worn tables and chairs.

Everywhere they’ve gone, they’ve been greeted with infectious smiles, some from children receiving something as simple as a foam ball. They’ve held baseball clinics for them in attempt to share what they’ve learned. 

Most of all, they’ve played with them — and prayed with them. 

Maybe that’s the type of son we all aspire to see mature into a man someday. 

In the four years since Mike Winslett, owner of DTI Expeditors, and First Baptist Church of Newnan Youth Pastor Brian Morgan dreamed of using baseball to share and spread the Gospel to areas in and around Cancun, it’s blossomed into an overwhelming success. 

According to Morgan’s Facebook page last week, at least two of this year’s group of players asked to be baptized before returning to the United States.

Along the way they handed out hundreds of Spanish Bibles at baseball clinics. Hundreds more foam balls with the Baseball4Christ logo found their way to the happy faces of children.

In the end, many of them are returning today as not just better players, but better men.

And we look forward to telling those stories. 

“I just feel that student athletes, high school and college, are a totally different breed. They don’t get a chance to see who they are, because sometimes parents and coaches want to tell them who they are,” Morgan told us after the 2011 trip. “They’re supposed to be these tough guys. But when you get to see them in an environment as normal guys, there’s a lot of stuff in their lives that baseball’s hiding.” 

The baseball played in Mexico has been as good as it was here at home this spring for the four programs that advanced to respective state tournaments. As of Saturday, it included at least three victories, the latter of which saw the B4C team rally for seven runs in its last at bat for a 10-4 win. 

But rarely have the boys returned to talk about baseball with us. 

 “Of the 12 kids, no one mentioned baseball,” said Morgan two years ago. “Not one mentioned any of the games.”

We expect much the same this summer.




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