2,000 years ago, Jesus preached a sermon on a mount that has changed millions of lives since. In 1984, Tommy Lasorda, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, delivered a “sermon on the mound” of his own…and it changed the life of Orel Hershiser.
It was so definitive in fact, that Hershiser even got a new name.
It started when the pitching coach walked into the locker room and said, “Tommy wants to see you.” Hershiser knew that was never good news. He was right. When he got to Lasorda’s office, the famous baseball manager tore into #55 like a package on Christmas morning.
“You don’t believe in yourself! You’re scared to pitch in the big leagues! Who do you think these hitters are, Babe Ruth? Ruth’s dead! You’ve got good stuff. If you didn’t I wouldn’t have brought you up. Quit bein’ so careful!
“If I could get a heart surgeon in here, I’d have him open my chest and take out my heart, open your chest and take out your heart, and then I’d have him give you my heart! You’d be in the Hall of Fame!
“I’ve seen guys come and go, son, and you’ve got it! You gotta go out there and do it on the mound! Take charge! Make ‘em hit your best stuff! Be aggressive. Be a bulldog out there. That’s gonna be your new name: Bulldog. You know, when we bring you in in the ninth to face Dale Murphy and he hears, ‘Now pitching, Orel Hershiser,’ man, he can’t wait till you get there! But if he hears, ‘Now pitching, Bulldog Hershsier,’ he’s thinkin’, Oh, no, who’s that?’ Murphy’s gonna be scared to death!”
Orel Hershiser’s life was never the same after that “sermon.” A renowned Christian already, Bulldog never forgot that conversation; his entire attitude changed when his coach gave him a new name. The talk made such an impact on Hershiser that he chose that story as the opener to his autobiography after winning the 1988 World Series.
And when reading it, one can’t help but think back to Jesus changing Simon’s entire identity by simply changing his name to Peter.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
What does Jesus call you?
Out of the Blue by Orel Hershiser. Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989, Pages 10-11.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)