Darrell Royal, co-inventor of the Wishbone offense and two-time national championship coach of the Texas Longhorns, has died at age 88. During his 20 years as UT’s head football coach, Royal racked up a record of 167-47-5, including eleven Southwest Conference titles, ten Cotton Bowl wins, and undefeated national championship seasons in 1963 and 1969. I was ten years old when Royal stepped away from the sidelines to leave college football to the Barry Switzers of the world. So most of what I know about him I’ve only heard second and third hand or read in books or seen on TV. I did enjoy the great privilege of meeting Royal at a hospital fundraiser in Burnet back in 1993. I had my picture made with the winningest coach in Longhorns history and he autographed my invitation. A good friend, Larry Pate, framed the 3″x4″ card for me and it hangs on my office wall today.
Royal is remembered for his hard-nosed running attack and his disciplined defense. But he also gained a lot of attention with his folksy quotes and quips. Some of my favorites:
“Three things can happen when you throw the football, and two of ’em are bad.” ~on his unwillingness to install a sophisticated passing game at UT
“You dance with who brung ya.” ~on his refusal to give up on the Wishbone after a couple of tough losses in 1965
“Only angry people win football games.” ~on recruiting
“No, he’s not very fast, but maybe Elizabeth Taylor can’t sing.” ~while defending a backup running back against a reporter’s criticism
Click here for a link to a whole bunch of other Darrell Royal quotes. Click here for the Sports Illustrated article on Royal’s life before, during, and after UT. In honor of the coach, order something off the menu today that sounds like “triple option.”
You might also be interested to know that the Houston Astros are going with a new logo and uniform design to mark their move to the American League. The new designs borrow quite liberally from the old historic ones — maybe only a die-hard fan could pick out the differences. But I like it. The orange star and the capitol “H” has always been cool. Someday, maybe during Spring Training in March, I’ll rant and rave about Houston moving to the AL West. It’s a travesty. It’s very nearly the abomination that leads to desolation. In the meantime, click here to watch a pretty cool video that highlights the Astros’ uni look from the old Colt .45 days of Larry Dierker, through the rainbow era of Ryan and Cruz, and the blue pinstripes of Bagwell and Biggio, to this brand new look worn by a bunch of players you and I have never heard of.
Carrie-Anne and the girls and I made the short drive to Tulia Friday to eat Mexican food with our favorite Ukranian missionaries, David and Olivia and Caleb Nelson. David and Liv are on furlough from their seven year commitment in Kharkov, spending several weeks with the Martins in Lubbock where Liv is about to give birth to their second child. The little boy (Luke? Lucas? Lucious?) is due in a week and Olivia needed some chili rellenos. We had such a great visit with this wonderful family. It was such a joy to get caught up on all the Christians and all the seekers C-A and I met during our two week trip to Kharkov in 2010. Re-living Victoria’s baptism into Christ, remembering Alexander, getting caught up with Valery and Andrei; it was such a blessing. We laughed together and we prayed. We marveled at their victories and sympathized with their struggles. We giggled at the mention of fish-flavored potato chips and gagged at the memory of a tall frosty glass of Kafir. I taught Caleb how to flip Froot Loops from the handle of a teaspoon. And we vowed to play a few marathon Phase 10 games together here in Amarillo before they head to Fort Worth after the baby is born.
God is using the Nelsons in a very difficult place. He’s working through them to spread the great news of salvation in Christ Jesus. He’s empowering their whole team by his Holy Spirit to advance the eternal Kingdom. We feel so very blessed to be their friends.
God bless his Kingdom outposts in Ukraine. God bless David and Olivia Nelson and their precious children. May our Father’s will be done in their lives and in Kharkov just as it is in heaven.
Carrie-Anne and I are headed up to Tulsa for our annual time of spiritual renewal and ministry rejuvenation. The Tulsa Workshop has long been a favorite destination for us. Every year we are encouraged, uplifted, inspired, equipped, empowered, enlightened, and educated. It’s in Tulsa where we sing our lungs out, we “amen” some of the best preachers in the faith, and we’re transformed. We grow in Tulsa. We change in Tulsa.
I’m approaching this year’s three day event with the same anticipation. I’m so privileged to sit with Terry Rush in his office at 6:30 Thursday morning; what encouraging thing will he say to me this time? I’m so blessed to call Rick Atchley a good friend; what valuable advice will he give me when I see him? My life is more meaningful for knowing Rick and Beverly Ross and their whole family; how will Josh challenge me this year?; how much of their broken hearts and enduring faith will Rick and Beverly reveal to inspire me?
How much of Jeff Walling’s sermons will I steal? Who am I going to run into that I haven’t seen in ten years? How hard will Randy Harris make me laugh? How long will Chris Moore’s beard be, and how many rubber bands will be holding it in place? How many tears will roll down my cheeks as Keith Lancaster leads us in “It Is Well With My Soul” while I realize that my sin — not in part, but the whole! — has been nailed to the cross?
I’ll get to see Dan Bouchelle for the first time since I took his old job at this wonderful church in Amarillo (hopefully, nobody’s told him yet that I referred to him in a sermon two weeks ago as Central’s interim preacher). I’ll get to sing praises to our God with my wife and with our old friends from Mesquite and with new friends we haven’t even met yet and with hundreds and hundreds of Christ’s redeemed. Is Marvin Phillips still alive?!? I’ll listen to Jay Guin and Don McLaughlin and Patrick Mead. I’ll come back with books and CDs and a refreshed understanding of my own salvation and a renewed enthusiasm for the mission to which our Father has called me. And we might run into Garth Brooks again at the Mexican food restaurant.
I love the Tulsa Workshop. I highly recommend it.
My friend Jerry Schemmel, the play-by-play voice of the Colorado Rockies, has just released a brand new clothing line with a Bible-based theme. This is his baby: 1925 Sports — workout gear with logos inspired by 1 Corinthians 9:25. “…to get a crown that will last forever.”
Here’s the link. Check it out. Way to go, Jerry. Very cool. I know your schedule’s about to get really hectic. Enjoy the relative calm of the final two weeks of spring training. Someday, when you get out of baseball broadcasting to enter the full-time preaching ministry, we’ll talk about hectic. Have a great season.
The above Tim Tebow joke was submitted earlier today by Josh Penn. Thanks, Josh. See you at the Warrior Dash next month.
“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people…” ~Acts 4:23
Please notice that in the middle of terrible trial and increasing persecution, the apostles who’d been arrested and questioned for preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus “went back to their own people.” They gathered with their brothers and sisters in Christ because they knew the fellowship of the saints is a tremendous source of encouragement and strength. Fellowship is one of the main themes in Acts and we shouldn’t be surprised that it comes to the front during this time of crisis.
When their God-given mission was declared illegal, Peter and John shared and prayed with their own people.
You know, the more technology we use, the more TVs and computers and laptops and cell phones and iPods — the more screens we bury our faces in and the more buds we plug in our ears — the less relational we become. Being with other people, interacting with other people, sharing and praying with other people is becoming less and less important. One of the saddest developments is that our relationships are deteriorating and they weren’t all that strong to begin with. The result is that God’s Church is ill-equipped to handle a crisis.
There is terrific strength in being together. It’s critical for us to be together where we can encourage each other, build each other up. sympathize and pray for each other. We strengthen each other when we’re together. I don’t know why anybody would ever miss one of our regular church assemblies. It’s so vital!
In ancient mythology, there’s a story about Hercules wrestling to the death with a Libyan giant named Antaeus. Antaeus was the son of Gaia, the goddess of the earth. And everytime Hercules threw Antaeus to the ground, Antaeus jumped up bigger and stronger than before. Hercules finally realized that everytime Antaeus came in contact with the earth he received fresh power, renewed strength. So he picked Antaeus up and held him in the air. He didn’t allow any contact between Antaeus and the source of his strength. And eventually Antaeus grew weaker and weaker and died without a struggle.
I think Satan knows the strength we get from being together. I think that’s why he works so hard to keep us from all meeting together. He’s the one who gives us our excuses and rationalizations and justifications for missing our meeting times. He knows if he can just hold us away from the assemblies, if our gathering with other Christians is inconsistent or non-existent, if he can just hold us in the air long enough, our spiritual condition and readiness to face a crisis won’t be nearly as strong as it is when we’re always together.
There’s great strength in being together.
I’ve had the great privilege of listening to Ben Witherington teach and preach and sing on the great salvation themes of the New Testament. The noted theologian and author has presented his views on Revelation to a hundred of us at the Sermon Seminar at Austin Grad. And I was blessed to spend an entire day with him at Harding last year, thanks to an invite from my brother, Keith. Now, the boisterous and bellowing one has been inspired by the unbelievable World Series to write a few paragraphs about the great game of baseball. It’s a little Cardinals-biased. But it’s a good read. You can get to it by clicking here.
At 4:07 Texas time this afternoon C. J. Wilson will hurl the first pitch to Sean Rodriguez at the beautiful Ballpark in Arlington to open up the postseason. I know you’re as excited as I am. I know you’ve been counting down the days, and now the hours, to the start of this five game series. I know you’ve decorated your cubicle at work with red, white, and blue postseason bunting. I know you’re wearing your Rangers gear today. And I know you’re cruising the internet and reading the papers and listening to the radio and watching the TV, getting more and more excited about what everybody thinks are really great chances for Texas to actually win their first ever World Series. To help you pass just a little more time between now and first pitch, allow me to direct you to a couple of articles.
On ESPN’s Page 2, David Schoenfield has given us “100 Reasons to be Excited About the Playoffs.” The list has a decidely NL flavor. It’s also East coast heavy on Yankees and Phils. There are only eight Rangers mentions that I noticed. But it’s good and clever and funny and smart. It’ll get you caught up if you haven’t been paying attention. You can get to it by clicking here.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark is actually predicting a Texas-Phillies World Series, with the Rangers coming out on top. You can find his prediction and his reasoning behind the pick, including lots of breakdown from MLB managers, GMs, scouts, and players by clicking here.
Over at Sports Illustrated, Albert Chen gives a pretty good preview of Rangers-Rays and picks Texas in five. Click here for his assessment of the pitching matchups, some interesting stats about Tampa’s overrated baserunning abilities, and some glowing reviews of Beltre, Holland, and the Texas bullpen.
Here’s the link to the official Texas Rangers website. There’s tons of good stuff here, including some video highlights of last year’s World Series run.
In case you’re interested, the coolest Texas Rangers wallpaper I’ve ever found is right here. I’ve got this on my laptop, my desktop at home, and my phone. I’d put it on the wall in my office if I could figure out how. I love this image. Install it right now. Dude, I’m serious. At least look at it.
Of course, your Opening Day for the playoffs won’t be ready to go until you’ve read Jamey Newberg’s report.
Finally — and this is for only the truest of die-hard, hard core, bad to the bone baseball fans — I present to you a heavy, yet inspiring, analysis of the great game of baseball from famed author and theologian David B. Hart. It will take you 30-minutes to read this article. Some of it is difficult. But if you really love baseball — I mean REALLY love baseball — you’ll be glad you did. It’s called “The Perfect Game: The Metaphysical Meaning of Baseball.” It’s from a 2010 edition of the theological journal First Things. Let me entice you with a couple of selected paragraphs.
In describing the eternal truths of the game, Hart points to the exactness of the 90-feet between bases, the 60-1/2 feet from the pitching rubber to the plate, and the one-third of a second a batter has to decide if he’s going to swing. “Everything is so perfectly calibrated that almost every play is a matter of the most unforgiving precision; a ball correctly played in the infield is almost always an out, while the slightest misplay usually results in a man on base. There are Pythagorean enigmas here, occult and imponderable: mystic proportions written into the very fabric of nature of which we were once as ignorant as of the existance of other galaxies.”
“And surely some account has to be given of the drama of baseball: the way it reaches down into the souls’ abyss with its fluid alternations of prolonged suspense and shocking urgency, its mounting rallies, its thwarted ventures, its intolerable tensions, its suddenly exhilarating or devastating peripeties. Even the natural narrative arc of the game is in three acts — the early, middle, and late innings — each with its own distinct potentials and imperatives. And because, until the final out is recorded, no loss is an absolute fait accompli, the torment of hope never relents. Victory may or may not come in a blaze of glorious elation, but every defeat, when it comes, is sublime.”
Certainly, Hart also spends a great deal of time on the religious and spiritual dimensions of the great game of baseball. Among my favorite sections of this article is the passage on the “undeniable element of Edenic nostalgia” that’s found in baseball’s many stadiums. While reflecting on the innocence and paradise of the ballpark, Hart also observes:
“…evil does occasionally come, whenever the Yankees are in town, and this occasionally lends the game a cosmic significance that would not be improper to call ‘apocalyptic.’ This, in fact, is why that dastardly franchise is a spiritually necessary part of the game. Even Yankees fans have their necessary role to play, and — although we may think of them as ‘vessals of wrath’ — we have to remember that they, too, are enfolded in the mercy of providence.”
You get the idea. If you think you can handle it, you can find the full article right here.