Formations 06.27.2021: Farewell

Cal Ripken Jr. saluting fans, AmericanRhetoric.com

2 Timothy 4:1-18

From May 30, 1982 ‘til September 19, 1998, Cal Ripken Jr. played 2,632 straight games for the Baltimore Orioles, far surpassing the record formerly held by the legendary Lou Gehrig.

Apart from Gehrig, no one else in all of baseball has ever come anywhere close to Ripken’s record. The third- and fourth-longest streaks combined fall short by 118 games or nearly three-quarters of a full season. All but twenty-seven position players in the Baseball Hall of Fame never played 2,632 games in their entire careers, and several Hall of Famers’ careers fit comfortably inside Ripken’s streak.

Ripken played in twenty-five ballparks during the streak and faced 526 starting pitchers from nineteen different teams.

On October 6, 2001, when his playing career finally came to an end, Ripken briefly addressed the fans at Camden Yards to bid them farewell. He expressed gratitude for his family, his teammates, and his fans. His speech concluded with the following words:

My dreams for the future include pursuing my passion for baseball. Hopefully, I will be able to share what I have learned. And I would be happy if that sharing would lead to something as simple as a smile on the face of others.

One question I’ve been repeatedly asked these past few weeks is, “How do I want to be remembered?” My answer has been simple: to be remembered at all is pretty special.


I might also add that if, if I am remembered, I hope it’s because, by living my dream, I was able to make a difference.


Thank you.

Cal Ripken Jr., “Farewell to Baseball Address,” AmericanRhetoric.com <https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/calripkenjr.htm>.

There is no question that Cal Ripken Jr. was a talented shortstop and third baseman. There is also no question that he will be remembered by baseball fans long into the future.

But he will be remembered most not for his batting average or his defensive skills but for his steadfastness. He was baseball’s “Iron Man,” reliably there game after game, doing his job…and making a difference.

In 2 Timothy, we hear a farewell message from the apostle Paul. Our passage for this week is filled with exhortations to remain steadfast in the gospel even when it is unpopular.

Paul knows his death is near, but he also knows that he has done everything God has required of him. He has fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (v. 7). Even though he has been abandoned by most of his co-workers (v. 16), he has not lost heart. Rather, he looks to the Lord to continue to stand beside him and rescue him from his persecutors.

Paul has passed on what he has learned to a new generation, among whom Timothy is perhaps his star pupil. Now he can pass the torch with confidence that he has made a difference. The gospel will continue to advance, and the apostle will be remembered far into the future as one who was faithful to the heavenly vision he had received.

“Pretty special,” indeed.

Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, and Thomas Harrington, “8 Amazing Facts about Ripken’s Streak,” MLB.com, 6 Sep 2020 <https://www.mlb.com/news/amazing-facts-about-cal-ripken-jr-s-games-played-streak>.

Discussion

• Who are the steadfast, faithful people in your life? How do they inspire you?
• How does genuine passion for something encourage us to keep pursuing it?
• What did Paul believe that gave him staying power in his ministry?
• How can Paul’s words inspire us as we contemplate our own lives coming to a close?
• How do you want to be remembered?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.

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