I love baseball. Some people hate it, and think its the most boring game ever invented. But, if you have ever played it, you start to understand all the little intricacies and strategies that happen covertly just under the surface. Its like a game of chess or poker. Each at bat is a separate war between the pitcher and the batter, the runners and the infielders, the guessing game of the type and location of each pitch, and the placement of the outfielders. Every little thing counts. Even a little tiny detail can be used as an advantage.
Because of this, baseball is full of secret signs to communicate strategies between the managers and the players, or between the players themselves. At the same time, the other team spends the whole game trying to decipher those signals to gain the advantage. And it’s a worth while endeavor because some seemingly insignificant bit of intercepted information can mean the difference in the game.
When I was playing in high school, I had an at bat I won’t ever forget. I was up to bat with a runner on second base. I was facing a very good pitcher from American Fork. He was about 6’4″ and 240 lbs, and was throwing his fastball in the 90 mph range-which is not easy to hit, by the way.
We weren’t having much success against him needless to say. After he delivered his first pitch, a nasty curve ball, that I swung at and missed horribly, the catcher did something I had never seen or heard before. He complained loudly about how the pitcher had missed the sign. It was supposed to be a fastball, but a curve came.
Not only did he complain, but he lazily yelled out to the pitcher that it was the “second” one, meaning the second sign out of the 6 or 7 given. The catcher usually flashes these hand signals to the pitcher to hide, or disguise the pitch from any possible spies, like the one I had standing on 2nd base.
So, what did I do? I casually walked over to the 3rd base coach to pretend like I was confused about something, and let him know that I had just discovered the pitcher/catcher code. He then, in turn, casually called the runner on second, over to have a mini-conference. During this huddle, he told him to watch for the second sign given by the catcher, and pass that info on to me, the batter, through a previously designed secret sign of our own – open hands for a curve, and closed hands for a fastball.
It was a brilliant plan, a perfectly perfect clandestine operation was taking place. It was perfect because the second base runner stands almost directly behind the pitcher when he leads off, and is in the perfect spot to pass on the sign to the waiting batter as he crouches into his lead, and hangs his hands down. If this worked, I would soon know which pitch was coming. And, as we learn from GI Joe, knowing is half the battle.
So, I tapped my cleats, and stood into the box, and peered right behind the pitcher to my teammate leading off of second base. As the pitcher finally nodded his head and readied for the pitch, I saw his two hands hanging down in clenched fists. A fastball. I knew it 1 second before it left the pitcher’s hand. I knew what was coming. I had the advantage.
I took my step, and confidently swung at that pitch as it howled in towards the plate at 90 mph. Then, the pitcher’s head whiplashed back at about that same speed as the ball exploded off my bat, out of the infield, flew over the left fielder, and over the fence for a home run. It was hard not to smirk too much as I jogged around the bases. Mission accomplished.
By small and simple things are great things brought to pass. Sometimes all you need to know, is what pitch is coming.
This principle is demonstrated over and over again in the Book of Mormon. If we read it, we soon realize that history has repeated itself. Over and over again. Mormon, by inspiration, compiled and abridged an almost perfect book to teach us all we need to know to be successful in our lives. Not only within our own families, but within our communities and countries.
The key to all of this success is Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon details over and over again the struggles of a people trying to survive in a difficult world. Sometimes they thrived, other times, not so much. But, through it all, we learn that happiness and prosperity come through faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ.
In Mormon chapter 7, the whole purpose of the Book of Mormon is summarized in a few verses. Think of this chapter as our secret signal from our runner on second base. It tells us in a few sentences, what is important. Mormon says….
“Know ye that ye must come unto repentance, or ye cannot be saved.”
“Know ye that ye must lay down your weapons of war, and delight no more in the shedding of blood, and take them not again, save it be that God shall command you.”
“Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.”
“…Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you…”
“For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe…”
“…And if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior,… it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen.”
Mormon gave us the signs from second base. We know what is coming. We know how to prepare for the pitches from Satan. We know how he will deliver the pitch, and how to hit it. But, our success comes only if we pay attention to the small details, and ACT on them. Real success comes when we commit ourselves to follow Jesus Christ.
The Lord has given us the advantage to win the game against evil. This advantage is the Book of Mormon. It teaches us that the only way to win is to believe in Christ, and follow him. Thats it. Simple. By using this advantage, we can know whats coming, we can see clearly, and have confidence in our abilities to succeed. If we truly commit, and use this advantage the Lord has provided for us, we can, and will succeed.