On August 16, 1920, professional baseball experienced the only death ever caused by a pitched ball when Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was struck in the temple by Carl Mays of the Yankees. Chapman made a habit out of crowding the plate and was frequently hit by pitches. It appeared that Chapman was expecting a curveball and made no attempt to move out of the way. He collapsed from the impact, was helped to his feet and walked to the dugout, but then lost consciousness. Emergency surgery failed to save his life. Chapman’s death prompted a major change in baseball as to this point, just a handful of balls were used per game. They would become discolored and scuffed and harder to see. Following Chapman’s death, dirty or scuffed balls had to be replaced. An unexpected by-product of the rule change was an increase in the number of home runs as the newer balls were wound tighter and carried farther when struck.
It’s sad and unfortunate that a tragedy must take place at times before safety measures are implemented to protect people. Vehicle safety inspections, child safety seats, railroad crossing warning lights, and so many other measures arose to address tragedies after the fact.
I wonder how many Christians ignore warning signs about their relationship with God until a full-blown tragedy occurs. Neglecting the daily disciplines of prayer and Bible study is a sure-fire way to weaken our ability to resist temptation that will inevitably come, attempting to sabotage our walk with the Lord. Rather than courting a spiritual crisis through indifference to God, let’s resolve to spend time with Him each day. It’s a lot harder to put Humpty Dumpty back together than it is to keep him from falling.