WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT

by David Sisler

What is it about baseball that "the national past time" needs a "savior?" Is it the greedy-gut players who have time only to deposit their over blown paychecks and no time for the fans whose ticket purchases pay those salaries? Or is it the stupid fans who cheer a player for his accomplishments one day and then criticize him for doing the same thing they applauded not so very long ago?

This year baseball has two "saviors:" Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. In 1995 it had one Cal Ripken, Jr.

Being a Pittsburgh Pirate fan gives one precious little to cheer about most baseball seasons of late, so it is nice to watch as the three "saviors" sign lots of autographs (for free) and give away millions of dollars to kids who are hurting.

I am a native of the "Old Line State" but I have never been a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. There is no specific reason for it, nothing you could pin me down about under oath (and there seems to be a lot of that going around lately). The TV at 117 Shenandoah Avenue picked up KDKA, Pittsburgh, not WBAL, Baltimore, so maybe that's why I did not become a home state fan. I can truthfully say that some of my best friends are Oriole fans, but I would not want my daughters to marry any of them.

But I watched, and cheered, with the millions assembled in front of their TVs, when, on September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken circled the grounds at Camden Yards, celebrating consecutive game number 2131. And I appreciated Cal saying that he was not really a hero, he just showed up for work every day. The real heroes, I recall him saying, were the workers who punched the time clock day in, day out.

Cal started the 1982 seasons as the Oriole's third baseman, but manager Earl Weaver saw a shortstop. Despite the protests of the club, he moved Cal over and put him in the line up everyday. Cal missed the second game of a doubleheader against Toronto on May 29, but he was back in the lineup the next day and history was in the making.

History notes that in 1982 Leonid Brezhnev was the leader of the Soviet Union. Dynasty and Dallas were the top rated TV shows. E.T. set new box office records.

In 1983, The Streak was one year old, and the Brooklyn Bridge turned 100. M*A*S*H went off the air with the highest recorded number of viewers of any TV program.

In 1984, Cal became the second Oriole, Brooks Robinson was the first, to hit for the cycle. Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman to run for national office on the ticket of a national political party.

The Orioles stuck with their shortstop in 1985, but Coca Cola changed its flavor.

The days outside of baseball passed with events of their own which demanded to be noticed.

Seven astronauts died when the Challenger exploded in 1986.

Mikhail Gorbachev openly led the Soviet Union to glasnost in 1987.

In 1988, the last Playboy Club in America closed its doors.

George Bush was inaugurated president in 1989, the first vice president since Martin Van Buren to be elected to the presidency.

The Hubble Space Telescope went into orbit in 1990, but it needed glasses.

In 1991 Anita Hill charged Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment and L.A. police were charged with beating Rodney King.

The Great Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the world, opened in 1992.

Foreign terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993.

Richard Nixon died in 1994.

Homegrown terrorists killed 168 of us in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

TV got a rating system in 1996.

China got back Hong Kong in 1997.

And on September 20, 1998, Cal Ripken after playing in 2,632 consecutive ball games (including an unequaled 8,243 consecutive innings) walked into the office of manager Ray Miller and said, "I think the time is right."

The passage of time is marked with events and happenings, some notable, some scarcely noticed. I read Cal's statement to his manager and I immediately thought of other words, yet to be spoken, and another event, yet to be enacted. God the Father (and he is the only one who knows when it will be) will say to Jesus, his only begotten Son, the Savior of the world, "The time is right," and the King of Glory will return, personally, physically, to our world. Are you ready? If not, today is the day of salvation. The time is right now.

-30-

Published in the Augusta Chronicle 9/26/98

Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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