The “first pitch” in baseball is one of the best traditions in the game. This is when a person is honored to go out onto the field and throw the first pitch before a game begins. The tradition of the first pitch started in 1910 with President William Howard Taft and since then nearly every President of the United States has thrown out the first pitch at a game.

One of the most memorable first pitches occurred shortly after September 11, 2001, when President George W. Bush took the mound at Yankee Stadium before the first game of the World Series. As the President walked out onto the field, the crowd chanted “USA, USA, USA” and the President threw a perfect strike igniting a roar from the crowd. The first pitch received louder respect and reverence than any other pitch in the game.

Every player in baseball knows that without the “first pitch” — the other pitches are not possible. This is why baseball honors a “first pitch.” There are many first pitches in baseball that often go without the recognition they deserve. Two examples include: mothers and fathers throwing the first pitches to their children in the backyard and coaches throwing batting practice. These first pitches from parents and coaches are prerequisites to every game the child will ever play.

In the spiritual life, God has thrown and continues to throw the “first pitch.” This is seen in creation with God creating the universe ex nihilo [out of nothing] yet this action is a sheer gratuitous act [out of love].

Also, we see that God takes the initiative not only in the creation of the entire cosmos but also individually with each of us. 1 John 4:19 states, “We love because He first loved us.” And in Jeremiah 29:11 we hear from God, “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

It is this all-powerful, yet personal initiative from God that encourages us to respond. The spiritual life is always a response to God’s first pitch.

When President Bush threw out the first pitch in 2001 those Yankees fans responded with respect and reverence. The same approach ought to follow in our spiritual lives. The next time you go to pray, take a moment and understand that God has thrown and continues to throw the first pitch in your life. Then, respond to him with respect and reverence.

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Luke Daghir is a seminarian for the Diocese of Erie from St. Marys, Pa. He played catcher for the Elk Catholic Crusaders in 2010-2011 and coached SM Little League for 4 years. Luke was a catcher for the 2009 St. Marys Senior League State Championship team. He currently studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. His favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates and favorite baseball player is former catcher Jorge Posada of the New York Yankees.

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