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Janice Crow- “Life On The Jumbotron”

April 2024

Life on the Jumbotron – 2024

With baseball season gearing up, it brought to mind events that seem like yesterday but were more than thirty-six baseball seasons ago. It’s hard to believe that tousle-headed baseball-loving boy of mine with a sprinkling of freckles across his nose is now a man.

At six o’clock on a Saturday morning, I parked my car on the ante-lot adjacent to the Chevrolet dealer and we took our places in line to await the arrival of two St. Louis Cardinals promised to appear that morning at 10:00 a.m. It was only a four-hour wait, right? And what ten-year-old boy wouldn’t want to get the autograph of a base-stealing genius and a legendary shortstop? I wasn’t exactly indifferent myself. Let’s just say, whoever thought I’d buy a pair of binoculars for any reason, much less baseball.

I guess rank does have its privileges, because they rolled onto the lot in their fancy cars closer to noon, two hours late. But no matter. The crowd went berserk. It was finally time, right? Not quite. They had to find their way into the showroom, chat with their sponsor, get a drink of water, visit the restroom, and then finally take seats at a very unceremonious little card table. Now we can begin. It was a relatively polite crowd, as I recall. Not much in the way of pushing and shoving, which would be unheard of today in what is now a very sketchy North St. Louis County location.

The line began to inch forward, but honestly after standing in line for six hours, I began to be more concerned with finding my own restroom than worrying about autographs. Finally, it was our turn. We approached the table cautiously and handed them whatever it was that Jim had taken for them to sign. They grunted hello and scrawled their names as I snapped a hurried, unfocused picture. One word and zero eye contact…then it was over. All that waiting…and for what?

I’m not sure what my son expected, but I’m sure it had to be thrilling in one way and disappointing in another. We’ve talked about it many times over the years, and it’s funny, but the one thing that seemed to impress him most about the day was that I took him…me…his mom. Every once in a while now we’ll talk about our old baseball days and all the times we spent at the ballpark courtesy of my boss and his season tickets. Precious, precious memories.

I was thinking about it again the other day and it occurred to me what a life of notoriety like theirs must bring with it…a life lived essentially in a fishbowl. Nothing they do or say is not newsworthy. If they sneeze, step in a wad of gum, or trip over their own shoelace, it will somehow wind up on a highlight reel somewhere. Of course, every win counts…but so does every error.

What if, I thought, my life were played out on a field with spectators cheering the good plays and booing the bone-headed ones? Would I be the hero or the goat in my own life? Something tells me I would hear far more boos than yays. And what if every mistake I ever made was then played and replayed again and again on the Jumbotron, the nightly news, and written up in the morning paper to be archived for all journalistic eternity or saved to the cloud for someone’s quick reference? Life on the Jumbotron means your failures are very public, and believe me, everybody and their brother has an opinion about what you should have done. It makes me shudder to think.

Really, isn’t that what the devil does? How so, you ask. He capitalizes on those times when we miss the mark or drop the ball. He may take those times when life looks like it should have been an easy play that we found a way to screw up and plays it in our minds over and over and over again. It is such a source of glee for him. Then, of course, he has to narrate it so he can point out the really big flubs and add some of his own unnecessary color to it. “Here she is…third time at bat, looking a little tired. Let’s see if she can connect. There’s the pitch…. fastball right down the middle….a SWING and a miss… again! (The devil sounds a lot like Harry Caray to me.)

This is a tough one for me and maybe it is for you, too. After I’ve bungled it, my default setting is to hide in the dugout, then slip unnoticed into the clubhouse and stay there until I can steal away under cover of darkness and go brood at home for the next six months. I find it very difficult to re-emerge.
But with all my failures, I think it’s safe to say I never bungled it quite like Paul did before he became a Christ follower. Paul learned the important lesson of forgetting the past and moving on. And he had some pretty heavy-duty stuff to forget. He had been complicit in persecuting Christians, even haling some to their death for their faith, and I’m sure that chequered past tried to choke out his voice every time he began a sermon. But he didn’t let it.

He says in Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV), “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Yes, I know….it’s not easy.
Am I gonna fail again? Probably, but Proverbs 24:16 (NKJV) reminds us, “…a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again…”

Although the idea of having my life play out on the Jumbotron is not one I relish, I suppose one could argue that my life IS being played out for others to watch as Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) points out, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
So, there you have it. Yes, I’ve struck out. Yes, my list of errors is long. Yes, I’ve slammed headlong into the fence trying to pursue “that thing” and still missed. But guess what! I don’t have to keep watching the footage and neither do you.


Staff writer Janice Crow – Singer – Songwriter

Janice Crow

Janice Crow is an accomplished singer/songwriter.
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