For any who aren’t sports fans and don’t follow baseball, last night Aaron Judge swung a bat in Toronto and tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs hit in one season, set 61 years ago in 1961. (And for more numerical synchronicity, Judge sports the number 99 on his jersey; Maris was number 9.) My husband David, a Yankees fan since childhood, and I were sitting on our living room couch watching when it happened, and were quickly joined by Ben, who sprinted upstairs from our basement to partake in the reveling over replays.

As Judge now needs just one more home run to break Maris’ record, I’ve found myself reflecting on the question: How does someone get to be That Good?? On top of his natural athleticism, Judge’s 6’ 7” and 285 lb frame clearly help him swing a bat with power and might. His parents, Patty and Wayne, who adopted him shortly after his birth, along with older brother John, prioritized education first over sports, pushing him to go to college before turning pro. Judge credits his mother for the moral guidance she gave him growing up: how to treat people with respect, know the difference between right and wrong, work hard and put in the effort to go the extra mile. And what about all the mentors and coaches he’s had along the way? Teammates? Friends?

But the words that keep arising in my consciousness are “practice”, “discipline” and “desire”. It takes lots and lots of practice, to be That Good. It takes the discipline of hours upon hours of repetition, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And the desire to keep at it: to keep learning, keep growing, keep improving. Practice. Discipline. Desire.

And Love. Love of the sport. Love of the game. Love of that feeling of simply playing the game you love to play: the sheer joy and grace of it all.

I wonder what could happen, if we approached our invitation through baptism, to be followers of Jesus Christ, in the same way? With the same practice, discipline, desire and love? Could we be That Good?

The truth is, there is only one Aaron Judge, just as there was only one Roger Maris. But there is only one You, as there is only one Me.

Why not try to be the “best version” of You and Me, as followers of Christ, that We can be? Together in Christ. Amen.