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Driven By the Hope of Home

Updated: May 6, 2023


What makes the game of baseball so unique from other sports? The obvious answer is that baseball is not governed by a clock. Instead it's measured by innings and outs recorded (albeit, though, professional baseball now has a pitch clock).


Other aspects of the game that aren't featured in other sports is the defense holds the ball, the outfield dimensions have no set size fits--all standards or ground rules (while the infield does), baseball has no penalties or fouls (however, there are errors), and players score, not the ball (or puck).


Baseball and Home


There is, though, one feature of baseball that truly makes it stands out---the game resolves around home.


Nearly every single play in a baseball game occurs around a single pentagon shaped whitened rubber base that's in the set dimensions of 17 inches by 8.5 inches by 12 inches that actually looks like a house, with the roofing pointing toward the catcher. A base that is called home plate.


The only way to score in baseball isn't to get a ball in the end zone or in a net/basket; it's to embark on a 360 feet journey from home, only to return to the same place you began. To reach home safely is to record a run, not a point(s). Because players score, not the ball.


Another intriguing thing that sets home plate apart is that it's firmly planted into the ground. The other bases are above the ground. In a sense this is illustrating the reality that home is a place of permanence.


A final aspect worth noting is that an umpire dusts off home plate every half inning. This is a subtle reminder that we need to tidy up things when we do arrive at home.


Steve Wulf in the book Grassroots Baseball goes on to say this about baseball and its relationship with home:

"Home plate, home team, homestand, homerun, home cooking. The language of baseball is filled with words and expressions that evoke where we've lived."

One more striking aspect of baseball is that it's the only team sport which rewards the home team with a clear, distinct advantage.


What is it? The home team gets to pitch first, then bat. At the end of a game if the home team is trailing, they're given a chance to overcome any deficit of runs (there's no running out the clock like in most sports) and are able to "walk-off" with a win.


No doubt about it---baseball starts and ends with strong ties to home.

The Hero's Journey in Baseball


The architype template to tell a good story in movies and in novels is often referred to as the "hero's journey." This was made popular by Joseph Campbell's "A Hero with a Thousand Faces" written in 1949.


In the hero's journey the main protagonist is first shown in their "ordinary world" , which almost in all cases is their home.


Then our protagonist is faced with a "call to adventure" to leave their home behind and eventually return home as a changed person, thus bringing along a transformation that impacts the "ordinary world" they left.


Some of the best examples of this in literature and movies are The Wizard of Oz, Homer's "Odyssey", Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" along with the original Star Wars trilogy.


In each case the longing to return home is strongly emphasized at some point in time by the main protagonist.


Dorothy's famous quoted line in The Wizard of Oz best captures this sentiment with the simple but profound, "There's no place like home."


How does this tie into the game of baseball? The batter can be seen as the hero of the story embarking on a journey. Stepping up to the plate is their answer to the "call to adventure." Once a batter reaches first base, they've "crossed the threshold."


Many trials and tribulations may face the player (now considered a runner) on the base paths as they try to make their way home safely.


When he does reach home, their team is undergone a small change of transformation as together they seek to repeat this journey again and again to order to achieve the desired aim of victory.


The Hallowed Homerun

Taking this analogy even further is the most celebrated feat in sports---the homerun. While one can make the case that a touchdown is now the ultimate achievement in sports, nothing has ever come close to capturing the fascination and imagery found in hitting a homerun.


Circling the bases after hitting a homerun while waiting to celebrate back to where you began with your teammates is a powerful, profound metaphor on what we long for in our hearts.


It gives us a glimpse of how we yearn to accomplish something meaningful with our lives, to experience triumph in the midst of a battle, and our deepest desire to return home, a place where we belong.


The most rare and revered homerun is called a grand slam which occurs when its hit with all the bases occupied by baserunners.


It gives a team the most runs (four) that can be scored on a single play. To return back to the "hero's journey" illustration---this is a picture of what it looks like for a group achieving a goal together as one unit.


Circling Back to Goals


It's time to circle back around the bases to see how the role of home ties in with the goal achievement process.


I choose the name for this movement to be Homerun Hope because of this simple, yet profound imagery of a 360 foot journey around the bases in which we start at home and return back home; just like every meaningful goal should aim to accomplish. Let's dig deeper on what I'm implying here:


The importance of home is not often discussed when it comes to goal-setting. The strategies, disciplines, and mindsets take center stage more times than not. However the role of home is critically important to best understand why we set goals to begin with.


A goal is defined as "the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result." In every case there is a desire for change. To make things better than they were before.


To achieve a goal, you are required to either embark on an actual physical journey and/or internal one stepping out of your comfort zone.


When a goal has been accomplished something is gained. Perhaps a sense of happiness or peace. Growth physically, spiritually, or emotionally. A deeper, more intimate relationship with another person.


Memories are made, friendships are found, and newfound confidence is celebrated. This desired result is carried along with us what a new place, destination we could refer to as home.


Home Represents Hope


When we think of home, more times than not we're referring to the physical place which we refer to as a house where we live. Or home is thought of as where we grew up or the town we resided in with a family that raised us.


In many cases, there's a lot of good memories tied with home in the past and present. Feelings of happiness, love, acceptance, belonging, comfort, and peace. After a long and difficult day of work naturally we long to return home knowing it'll provide these feelings we've departed from.


Sadly, though, for many this hasn't been or still remains something they haven't experienced. Their home was full of physical or emotional abuse, of anger, condemnation, anguish, stress, and sadness.


So when I refer to home within the context of goals, it's the place we're aiming to arrive which holds the true marks of what it should represent----the happiness, love, belonging, peace, and goodness that we're currently lacking.


Home in its truest nature, though, is a destination that fulfills our hope. This is why the Biblical story is one epic hero's journey for all of humanity.


A journey in which we began at home in a garden (Genesis 2) that was perfect, sin entered the world and we were exiled from our home (Genesis 3), only to return back to a restored garden, the true home we were created for (Revelation 21-22). As Christians our hope is found in Heaven coming down to earth, our home restored.



Back Home Again and Again


Putting it altogether, the game of baseball, hero's journey in storytelling, and reality itself all harken back to our longing to return home. Home is a representation of a destination we seek in a journey that fulfills a hope.


When I refer to home within the context of goals, it's the place we're aiming to arrive which holds the true marks of what it should represent----the happiness, love, belonging, peace, and goodness that we're currently lacking.


For example, if your goal is to get a dream job after college in your field the journey are the steps you take to make it happen. Putting together a resume, applying for job opportunities, getting interviewed, and other tasks that might be required.


Your desired aim is to reach the destination of attaining your dream job, which is a "home." The place that you're longing to contain belonging, peace, and fulfilment.


This home then becomes familiar and settled into your new reality. But eventually, you may seek to grow and change, to embark on another journey to find another destination. A new, improved home. Leaving home to return home again.


Driven to Return Home


Over the next few months, we're going to uncover this 360 foot journey for the goal achievement process in what it takes to run back home. There are nine principles to dig into of which serve as the foundation of Homerun Hope of which will be explored.


The best quote that captures the essence of the core message of Homerun Hope is by the former commissioner of Major League Baseball, A. Barlett Giamatti when he wrote:

"Baseball is about going home and how hard it is to get there, and how driven is our need."

Home is where the heart is. Our hearts long to find a better place than we reside in, to reach new heights, to become more than we are, to attain what is lacking. Every time we set a goal and pursue it, our hope is reach this destination, a place to call home.


The journey to get there isn't easy. It's full of peril, problems, and pitfalls. Yet the joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment found when we our feet safely slide into home is what drives us forward to step into the batter's box, aim to circle the bases, and play the game of life. For there's no place like home.


Sources:

First photo of baseball with heart courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Image with "heart of hope" courtesy of Unsplash.com

Picture of "Welcome To Our Home" is my own

Other images courtesy of Flickr.com

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