My friend Marshall Kerlin was knelt down in the aisle behind home plate in old Atlanta Stadium on April 8, 1974 when Hank Aaron hit home run #715 to surpass Babe Ruth. I’ve heard about it over and over again for more than 30 years.
While I watched it on TV, Marshall reminds me, he was an eyewitness to baseball history.
Someday I may see something equally memorable, but it’s doubtful. Nothing seems to stack up. World series and six-hit games (by Cal Ripkin and Willie Harris) were unusual, but pale in historical comparison.
The closest I can get to making Marshall jealous is the fact that I was among the few gathered in Chattanooga two years ago when Mississippi Braves (and former Lookouts) manager Phillip Wellman put on a remarkable display of displeasure with an umpire’s call.
Does it compare to Hank’s feat? Not even close.
But it was one to remember. Crawling up behind the pitcher’s mound, Wellman tossed the rosin bag toward the umpire like a grenade.
My case has been strengthened by the fact that millions have viewed the episode on YouTube and ESPN placed it as number one in its all-time top sports meltdowns.
Even with high-tech video, there is something unique about being an eyewitness to something others have not seen in person.
This is quite a leap, I know. But whenever I read the writings of Paul in the New Testament, I get a sense that he knew just how historically close he had come to (yet narrowly missed) witnessing Jesus in person.
That is why the Gospels are so important to us. We value the firsthand accounts of those who witnessed something significant with their very own eyes. And nothing could have been more significant than to have seen and heard Jesus.
Yet the disciples never seemed to rub it in. They just had very important stories to tell – ones that benefit those throughout history who are wise enough read and heed them.