Do you need more joy in your life?
Have you ever felt that you're going through the motions during your day, and while nothing particularly awful is happening, not much good is going on either?
I went through a stretch like this recently. During days like this, I realize I could use a little more joy in my life.
It surprised me a few weeks ago when I found some of the joy I was lacking. Of all the unusual places to find it, I found it in the news. In the news?
Keep listening and I’ll explain the joy I found, because you can find it, too. Let me show you how.
Joy in the news? Really?
Where I live in the state of Wisconsin in the US, September 25, 2021 was declared Bob Uecker Day to celebrate the 50 years Uecker has been calling the play-by-play broadcast of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball games. 50 years at the same job. Who does that any more? The guy is 87 years old and still working!
Uecker is wildly popular with baseball fans in our area. Even marginal fans will listen to his broadcasts because of his quick-witted, self-deprecating sense of humor. He’s quite entertaining with the self-effacing funny stories of his playing days and observations about life.
Near the end of February when we’re all sick of the dreary winter we’ve been through in our part of the world, the first sign of spring is Bob Uecker broadcasting spring training baseball games from Arizona. He gives us hope that spring must be just around the corner. He’s like the first crocus or daffodil pushing through the leftover snow of winter. Among baseball fans, the joy of our relationship with Bob Uecker is palpable.
He is also deeply loved by the ballplayers he’s been describing for the past 5 decades. So much so that last year in 2020 the players on the Milwaukee Brewers voted a full share of their playoff bonus checks to Uecker. They didn’t have to do that. He didn’t play at all; he only described the action of those who did. And Uecker in turn donated his share to charity.
What a sweet and tender gesture on the part of the team. It’s a commentary about the joy of their relationship with him.
Who is this man that evokes such an honor?
This all raises the question, what is it about an 87-year-old man that endears him to people? How did the joy of relationships he has with so many people come to be?
With his many fans, I think it is his self-deprecating sense of humor. His persona is of a guy who wasn’t any good at anything – but doesn’t know it. It’s what made him such a hit on the Tonight Show. Miller Beer commercials, and his role in the 1989 baseball movie, Major League.
Uecker is a master of the unexpected. On the day he was honored for his 50 years as a broadcaster he was given the privilege of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of that day’s game, like so many have done before him in major league baseball stadiums all across the country.
Most 87-year-old would go out about 10 to 15 feet from home plate and toss the ball underhanded to a catcher. Not Uecker. He had the pitching machine used in batting practice positioned on the pitching mound, and just fed a baseball into the machine which propelled it to the catcher behind home plate.
The joy of relationships with people much younger
In terms of his relationship with the ballplayers, it’s important to note that the average age of the players on the Milwaukee Brewers is 28.8 years Uecker is 87. What is it that bridged this gap of 58 years to bring such joy to players and fans alike?
For one thing, Uecker was a ballplayer, too for 6 years, 1962-67. He played for the Milwaukee & Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and Philadelphia Phillies. He knew the joys and challenges of being a professional baseball player. He could relate to them, both the stars on the team and those who struggled.
As a player, Uecker was a pretty good defensive catcher, but only a career .200 hitter, which he joked about all the time. In 6 years he only hit 74 RBIs and 14 home runs in 6 years. Odly enough, one of those homers was off hall of fame pitcher, Sandy Koufax. He often joked that the homer he hit almost cost Koufax his place in Cooperstown.
The joy of honoring others in our relationships
As much as I enjoyed seeing Bob Uecker honored for his 50 years of broadcasting for one baseball team, I found even more joy in another part of this relationship story.
It comes from what the star player of the Brewers did. 29-year-old outfielder, Christian Yelich collected money from his teammates to pay Nike to
manufacture one pair of specialty shoes for Uecker that displayed the phrase, “One of Us” on the heel of the shoe.
Think about this for a moment, and let it sink in. One of us.
Imagine what Bob Uecker must have felt to have this group of ballplayers, 58 years younger than himself, give him a gift expressing this sentiment. One of us.
One of us
Who of us wouldn’t long to have people tell us they considered us one of them. That we belonged, that we’re together as part of a larger whole. That we’re wanted and appreciated by others.
Christian Yelich makes $23.8 million dollars a year as a professional baseball player and he organized getting this gift to honor Bob Uecker. Yelich also had a pair of baseball spikes made for himself that look like the Nike shoes given to Uecker.
All of this reminded me of the joy of relationships, and how we need to nurture them.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
How can you use what you’ve heard today to experience the joy of relationships in your life? I suggest following the ORA principle we’ve been talking about for some time.
Observe. Look around. Be curious about the world around us. Take our eyes off ourselves. There are good things happening all over the place if we take the time to look and notice the joy in relationships we come across in our daily lives.
There’s something within most of us that wants to be connected. We’re made for relationships. Look for these connections.
Reflect. Take time to think more deeply about what we observe. Many of us choose to stay too busy to reflect upon what we observe. Instead, consider the meaning behind what we see. Let it soak in. Are there themes in what we see and experience?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the implications of the phrase on the back of Bob Uecker’s new shoes, “One of us.” To be called this is something we have little or no control over. But it brings us to the next component of the ORA principle.
Act. What we do have control over, is taking action ourselves, to extend ourselves to others. Get to know people younger or older than ourselves, as Bob Uecker and the baseball players have done.
If people aren’t honoring us, we can honor others ourselves. We can do what the apostle Paul calls us to do in Romans 12:10, Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Be for others what you would like them to be for you. This creates a measure of joy for ourselves, as Christian Yellich no doubt experienced with the Nikes he gave Bob Uecker.
Here’s the main point I hope you remember from today’s episode
One fulfilling way to enrich our lives is to observe and delight in the joy of relationships we see happening between different people all around us.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to john [at] caringforothers [dot] org. Or you can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy of relationships God intends for you. For you know by now, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now.
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