The Tulsa Roughnecks Never Left Me Hanging!

Skelly Stadium, home of the Tulsa Roughnecks from 1977-84

Everyone has watched the video, by now, of the boy left hanging, trying to encourage his favorite team, the Miami heat for a good, but failing effort.  This is not the first time a loyal fan has been snubbed by the team he supports. Makes you wonder what sports stars are thinking today? Are they under some delusion that we pay to worship them, instead of to see a game? But let me take you back to a simpler time and place where things were different between a major league sports team and the city that loved and supported it.

In the late 70s and early 80s there was a major league soccer team, the Tulsa Roughnecks, that played and practiced in Skelly Stadium, on the Tulsa University campus, just a few blocks from my house.  Many summer mornings would find my neighbor friends and I walking down to the stadium, into the field, and kick the ball around with each other and even a major league soccer player or two, before their workout-practice began at 10:30am. Once practiced started, we would sit on the field and watch. Once over, we would visit with the players who were always glad to talk to us. They knew us by name. On Mondays the whole team would meet at a Tulsa restaurant, where everyone was welcome to have lunch with them.

The Tulsa Roughnecks were Tulsa. The city loved them. Once they lost a playoff series out of town, and were surprised to find hundreds of fans at the airport to greet and congratulate them for their effort, when they returned on a red-eye flight. I remember one player on the news, almost teary eyed, exclaiming with amazement that he had never seen such support after a loss! In 1983 the Roughnecks won the championship. The league was struggling and the team almost financially collapsed, but KRMG radio station held a telethon, and in one day the money  poured in to keep the team going. The people of Tulsa loved its team, and the team loved Tulsa.

Scenes like this were common after a game. Even after a loss the players did not just run off the field after a game. They showed appreciation. (Thank you Tulsaroughnecks.com for this image.)

Later I moved to Dallas-Fort Worth, and went to get tickets to a Rangers baseball game. At the stadium ticket booth, in the morning, long before game time,  I asked to use the pay phone about a yard behind the ticket booth. I was told I could not do that because it was across a yellow line. Really? In Tulsa I could walk onto the field and talk with the players, but in Texas I could not step across a line to use a phone? Made me think how special my years in Tulsa, as a Roughnecks fan was. Then I realized, no, it was not special. Yes I took it for granted, how friendly, personable and humble the players were, but you know what? It should be taken for granted! That’s right! I don’t care if you are the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys or Miami Heat, every player, every team should be friendly, personable and humble. Yes, if a city is going to stand behind its team and support it, it should be taken for granted that the team owes something more to the community than to just let the  city pay to worship them.

The Tulsa Roughnecks were not the only major league soccer team to show some class. I remember being at a game where Tulsa was playing Giorgio Chinaglia and the New York Cosmos. Chinaglia was the Babe Ruth of Major league American Soccer and the Cosmos were the Yankees of soccer. In the middle of the game, Tommy Ord, of the Roughnecks got a painful leg cramp and was lying on the ground. With no time outs in soccer play continued, and the Cosmos took the ball and attacked the Tulsa goal. Instead of charging down the field with his team, Chinaglia went over to Tommy Ord, lying on the ground in pain, and helped Ord exercise his leg to relieve the cramp! When was the last time you saw something like that in sports?

You can easily find pictures on the Internet and videos of Babe Ruth with children, especially in hospitals. Ruth was not perfect, but he understood he was part of a community, and not an idol for people to worship.  We ask what has happened to players today to give them the big head, and think they owe nothing to the community except to let people worship them. Wrong question. Where did the community go wrong to give the sports stars the idea that we wanted to worship them instead of see a game?

I still have in my possession, a copy of an article, I wrote to the Fort Worth Star Telegram shortly after the 1994-95 Major league baseball strike. Shortly after the strike I called the Texas Rangers ticket office. I was greeted by a recording saying, “baseball is back.” I wrote to the Star-Telegram asking where did baseball go? I knew the Texas Rangers were on strike, but was still quite certain I had still seen baseball on college fields, little league fields and even sand lots. Was major league baseball so arrogant as to believe they were baseball? And that if they were on strike that baseball ceased to exist?

Things like that take me back to a time, when I was young and naïve, and took it for granted that all sports heroes were friendly, personable and humble, just like my Tulsa Roughnecks.

A couple of years ago, I ran across an article about Alex Skotarek, a long time Roughneck player, coach and GM. I found his number and called him up to see if he remembered me, and my friends watching him practice. He remembered us and our names. We reminisced for a few minutes about those special days in Tulsa with the Roughnecks. After a few minutes, I politely told him I would let him go.  He thanked me for calling and told me to call back anytime.

I wish the young fan at the Miami Heat game could have had the same experience growing up with major league sports that I had.

Go Roughnecks!  (Thank you Tulsaroughnecks.com for this image.)

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 2

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandmentsExodus 20:4-6

When I lived in Texas I would plan my personal schedule around the Dallas Cowboy games. A friend finally asked me why I do that, and pointed out to me that the Dallas Cowboys don’t care about me. He was right. I was making someone a priority who did not really care about me. After all, when did they ever show up at UPS, where I worked to cheer me on? Today I only pay homage to God because He is the only One who loved me enough to die for me. He is the only One who cheers me on by His love and mercy each and every day. He is a jealous God. Not jealous for His ego. He is jealous for my welfare and does not want me to fall into the hands of someone who will not care for and love  me the way He does.  God does not so much “punish” the person who hates him as much as the person who hates and rejects Him, refuses His protection and brings disaster upon himself. Mercy comes to those who keep (shamar) or cherish His promises.

My Top Ten Secrets Revealed!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

My Top Ten Secrets Revealed!

10. I am “Voice”. In 1985, while attending Southern College of SDA (Now Southern Adventist University) I was doing my laundry at my sister’s house one night. Talk Net was on the radio with Bruce Williams, a business counselor. I decided I wanted to call in just for fun. I called into the national program and told Bruce I wanted to be a sports play by play announcer which I did. He told me to start working doing sports programs with my college radio station. I told him all they do is play classical music. Bruce then told me the radio station was not doing its job then in helping college students. Someone from the college was listening because the next week, in the college paper was my complete conversation! Since they did not know who I was I was simply called “voice”. The college paper blasted “voice” for not standing up for the school and radio station. Hey, I was just calling in just for fun! For weeks later letters poured into the college paper about the school radio station and “voice”.

9. It hurts very much to have my motives misread. About twenty years ago I was a literature evangelist traveling all over Oklahoma. Pagers we becoming popular at this time. This was before cell phones were popular. My grandfather died of a sudden heart attack and I always worried about my dad as well. I bought a pager so that if anything happened to my dad or mother while I was away I could find out and come back and be there for them. Since I was on a strapped budget someone accused me of wasting my money and just wanting to have the latest technology. That really hurt.

8. Back in the 80s when I had my own apartment in Tulsa, my mother was out of town. I called my dad to see what was up. He did not answer. I started getting worried. What if he had a heart attack and was laying alone on the floor with no one to help?  Being a guy I knew I could not act too concerned, so even though I had just done my laundry, I grabbed what little dirty clothes I had and headed over to my dad’s house “to do my laundry.” I was really just checking up on him. About the time I drove up to the house, my dad came in on his motorcycle, from an  evening ride. I just smiled, said hi and that I came to do my laundry. He just looked quizzically at my small bag of laundry.

7. I have openly claimed to be a Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and now Tampa bay Bucs fan, but for several years now, I have found myself loving it whenever the Detroit Lions win. I have never expressed it, but for several years now I think I have been a Lions fan. No joke. I am serious.

6. I miss working for UPS. It was a hard challenging job with good pay and benefits. I loved rising to the challenge. I also loved becoming a UPS supervisor and helping other people rise to the challenge as well. I felt good about myself while working there. It was very hard to quit. I am very happy to be in Florida now, but I wish there was a way I could have continued part time with UPS. There wasn’t.

5.  When I was in the 5th grade a friend of mine and I prank called a girl in our class. She asked who we were and we hung up. I am not going to disclose what we said, but I felt so bad after my friend left, that I called her back and apologized. She asked again who I was. I just said, “hey I’m sorry” and hung up! What a geek! I’m the only prank caller in history to call back and apologize!

4. I know without a doubt that I am no way close to being the best preacher, Bible worker, golfer, or photographer in the world. I do however, believe I make the best enchiladas in the world.

3. Sometimes I counsel myself in second person. I get outside my head and tell myself objectively how things are, and how other people feel and how I should respond. I talk to myself as if I was counseling somebody else.

2. I golf alone as well as with friends. My greatest fear is that my hole-in-one will come when I am golfing alone.

1. In my career as a Bible worker and lay pastor, my heroes are not preachers or teachers. I idolize the old man standing at the bedside of his ill wife 24/7. I am amazed at the grade school girl who campaigned at her school to get Christmas gifts for poor children, while her birthday was in December and with a father out of work, she got no birthday gift, and never made an effort to benefit from her campaign.  I respect the pathfinder leader who, instead of taking home her personal awards, puts them in the trophy case at church for the team. I admire the family man who stops by the church while no one is around and paints and fixes things without anyone ever knowing he came by. There are so many people in my life, who see themselves as ordinary everyday people, but I love, admire and respect them more than they will ever know! And they have taught me more about Jesus than I have ever taught them.

Jesus Wept; The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 9; It’s Just me

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This Week’s SS lesson (Download phone app.) on Self-esteem, reminds me of a poem I wrote, several years ago while living in Fort Worth, Texas. As a kid, I was a big sports fan. I would read the sports standings in the paper everyday, and somehow thought that the cities with first place teams were somehow living a higher existence and breathing different air than the rest of us. Years later, when I became a Christian book salesman, reality started to set it. I was leading my conference in sales, but somehow I was still breathing the same air everybody else breathed. I was no better than anybody else. Then I moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area about the time the Dallas Cowboys won their last two Superbowls. I then realized my how wrong I was as a kid. The grass was no greener after Dallas won the superbowl than it was before. The air was the same too. Funny thing too, when the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs the grass did not fade. Win or lose, succeed or fail, people are people. We are all just people. Likewise, when I was leading my conference in sales I was no more or less a person than I was the next year when I did not lead the conference in sales.

Back in 2003, I wrote this poem, illustrating how we are all just people no worse or better than anybody else. It doesn’t rhyme at the beginning but does at the end. Weird, I don’t know why I did it that way.

                                                                   It’s Just me

 

I’ve been chauffeured in the back seat of a Cadillac.

I’ve been behind the wheel of an old Volkswagen Beetle.

I’ve eaten in fancy restaurants with all my friends.

I’ve eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all alone.

But all in all I’m just me, it’s just me.

I’ve laughed out loud with the rest of the crowd.

I’ve cried alone where no one else could hear.

I’ve been in first place at the end of a race.

I’ve been so far behind, when will this game just end?

But after all is said and done, I’m just me, it’s just me.

I preached sermons that have moved congregations to tears.

I have preached sermons that have lulled congregations to sleep!

My friends have given me too much praise for a human being.

My adversaries have given me too much criticism, give me a break!

But at the end of it all, I’m just me; it’s just me.

Into every life a little rain and sunshine must fall.

Sometimes I feel small, and other times I feel tall.

I’m no more a person when I do well.

I’m no less a person when I fail.

But either way, I’m just me; it’s just me.

So don’t think that I am perfect all of the time.

Surely you don’t expect all my poems to rhyme.

I often succeed, but I also fail time and again.

Please don’t praise or condemn, just be my friend.

Because win or lose, I’m just me, it’s just me. 

Luke 10; Don’t Dance Before You Get to The End Zone

This is me about ten years ago at a Dallas Cowboys game when I lived in Fort Worth. This is at the game against the Eagles which was the hottest game in NFL history, 108 degrees, hence why I am not wearing both shirts.

Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 

 10:18    And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 

 10:19    Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 

 10:20    Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. 

For years I read this passage, and only saw Jesus talking about how Satan was a defeated foe and we all have power over him through Jesus. Recently though, I have begun to realize that Jesus was gently chastising the disciples for their pride. Always arguing who was the greatest, they were tempted to let pride take over instead of giving God the glory. I mean really, they were arguing all the time about who was the greatest in the kingdom of God when it was really rather obvious that God was the greatest in the kingdom of God and not any of them. With that kind of pride it was easy for them to start thinking that they were “all that” after God had worked some miracles in their behalf. Jesus is warning them against “dancing in the end zone” before they even scored yet. We all remember watching Leon Lett returning a fumble for the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 27. Before he makes it to the end zone he starts celebrating, and Don Beebe of the Buffalo Bills, knocks the ball out of his hands before he crosses the goal line. He started celebrating too soon and lost the touchdown. I think Jesus is telling His disciples, don’t start celebrating too soon. You are not all that. Make sure your names are in the book of life and celebrate when you get to heaven. Until then, we always have a self to conquer.

Remember, in Matthew 7:21-23 many will come to Jesus who have worked miracles, but are not saved. They are still living in sin and serving self. We know we are right with God, not because we do great things, but because our life is in harmony with His. Let Jesus’ rebuke to His disciples be a warning to us as well that we are not “all that” just because He does something great through us. Jesus is the Greatest!