“He dropped the ball,” is an American idiom we use to describe someone who didn’t do the job right. Or failed to complete an assignment. Or can’t be depended on. Or blundered in some way. It means to make an error, or to miss an opportunity. For instance, we say “the goal was in sight, but John dropped the ball.” Do you know where the expression originated?
Some people trace the origin of that phrase to the 4th game of the 1941 Baseball World Series. Last night I shared this story with our Hickman Mills church family and made some applications.
The Brooklyn Dodgers were playing the New York Yankees. The Yankees won the first game of the series by a score of 3-2. Brooklyn won the second game by the same score.. Then the Yankees took the third game 2-1.
In the fourth game it appeared the Dodgers were going to tie the series. Brooklyn was leading 4-3 in the top of the 9th inning. The Yankees were up to bat with the bases empty. There were 2 outs and the count was 3 balls and two strikes on Tommy Henrich. Henrich swung at the next pitch and missed the ball. Now, that should have ended the game. But the Dodgers’ catcher, Mickey Owen, a Nixa, Missouri native, dropped the ball!
The ball hit off the heel of his glove and rolled toward the Dodgers’ dugout. Henrich ran to first base before Owen could retrieve the ball. That started the Yankees’ rally. Next up to bat was “The Yankee Clipper,” Joe DiMaggio who singled. The Yankees then went on to score four runs in that inning. And they held on to win the game 7-4. So, instead of the series being tied at 2-2, that victory gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the series. The next day, the Yankees beat the Dodgers 3-1 in Game 5. And so the Yankees won the 1941 World Series, and some say it was all because Brooklyn’s catcher, Mickey Owen, dropped the ball.
Despite his outstanding career in baseball, Owen was always known as the man who “dropped the ball.” Mickey Owen died just a few years ago but the headline of his obituary in the New York Times read: “Mickey Owen Dies at 89; Allowed Fateful Passed Ball.” Even in his death he was remembered as the guy who dropped the ball.
Spiritually speaking many people are not careful. They take their eye off the ball…they let is slip from their grasp…they fail to hold on to that which is important in the game of life. The Bible offers many such warnings and admonitions to Christians.
Paul exhorted, “Hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain( 1 Cor 15:2). In other words, “Don’t drop the ball!”
The Thessalonians were encouraged to “ ”Test all things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess 5:21-22). Don’t drop the ball!
The Hebrew writer admonished, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb 10:23). Don’t drop the ball.
These exhortations are saying to Hold on tight to your faith. Stay focused on your hope. Sustain your confidence in Christ. Uphold your values. Defend your beliefs. Maintain your integrity. Affirm your self-worth, Cling to your Christian virtues. In other words, don’t drop the ball!
Because life is too short, eternity is too long, heaven’s too wonderful and hell is too horrible, to drop the ball and lose. Not just a game, but to lose your soul. So, whatever you do this week….Don’t drop the ball!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman