Now Batting: 14 New Baseball Books – The New York Times

Yes, it is the opening week of the Major League baseball season (in the U.S.)! And the now universally lovable winners – World Series champion Chicago Cubs – are set to defend their title (last night’s 2-1 game was a model victory – great pitching, superb defense, and timely hitting!)!

And it is Spring break week. So, we are going to have a mid-week breather from our usual fare and serve you the great American pastime – in books!

Just in time for the start of the season, The New York Times served up a menu of fourteen new baseball books, one of which is about the surprising turn-around of the Cubbies, featured at the beginning of this article by Daniel Gold. Whether that title becomes my summer baseball read or not (and there are several others out there on the Cubs’ amazing 2016 season, as you might guess, including some wonderful photo books),  there are good-looking baseball books here for all the die-hard fans.

Check out the books by browsing the article by Gold, the opening paragraph of which I quote below (click on the link with the image above for the full article and all the books).

Happy Spring! Whatever your hometown team is, have a great season! And yes, of course, Go Cubbies!

It happens every spring. It’s time to play ball, so publishers fill out a new lineup card of biographies, team histories and other baseball scholarship. This season must begin by acknowledging the surreality that after 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are again World Series champions. “The Plan” (Triumph, $24.95), by David Kaplan, is a chronicle of the project to turn “one of the worst organizations in baseball” into “a dynasty in the making.” Kaplan starts with the 2009 purchase of the franchise by Tom Ricketts, and the subsequent wooing of Theo Epstein, the general manager behind two titles for the formerly cursed Boston Red Sox. Chicago’s farm system is stocked and Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays manager, is signed ahead of the 2015 season. Add youngsters like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, and free agents like Jon Lester, and a long-losing club is finally No. 1. There’s too much front-office esoterica — one appendix lists clauses from rooftop-seating contracts for buildings around Wrigley Field — but Cubs fans won’t mind.

Published in: on April 5, 2017 at 6:37 AM  Leave a Comment  

Early March Madness for PRC Ministers and Seminary Students

Our “Friday Fun” item for this week comes a day late. But it is no less fun on Saturday morning. 🙂

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As you know, March in the U.S. is known as “March madness” time, because of all the basketball tournaments – both at the high school level and at the college level.

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Last week Saturday (March 4) saw a very special version of “March madness,” as down in Dyer, IN (Hoosier-land!) a group of PRC ministers from that area and a group of PRC Seminary students  (“Sons of the Prophets”, I have now learned) from up here combined to form a team to play against the basketball teams of Heritage Christian High School (the Defenders!). The big game was a fundraising event put on by the young people of Cornerstone PRC.

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Thanks to some pictures taken by Prof. R. Dykstra, who was in the area to preach last Sunday, we can show you some highlights.

DSC_0013Ryan VO and Ted A at the scorer’s table. Do you have a tape of the game?

After seeing his album of pictures and hearing who did the announcing (Ted Andringa) and listening to the stories of the contest at Seminary coffeetimes this week, I wish I had been there. Sounds like a great time was had by all – and for a good cause!

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Rev. G. Eriks shooting a big freethrow with the game on the line.

Who won the game? Well, just check out that last picture here.

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The scoreboard doesn’t lie – our students contributed to the one-point victory! Perhaps it was Coach “R” and his smart maneuvers throughout the game (That would be Sem student Stephan Regnerus). Go “Sons of the Prophets”! Are there any other challengers out there?!

In any case, thankful to report that there were no serious injuries. But I can imagine there were some mighty sore muscles Sunday morning. 🙂

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Published in: on March 11, 2017 at 8:33 AM  Comments (2)  

Cubs Win! (the 1908 World Series) Could It Be Again in 2016?! (YES, It Is!) Cubs Win! (the 2016 World Series!)

MAJOR UPDATE: the Chicago Cubs are the 2016 World Champions of Major league Baseball! Incredible! Indisputable! Repeatable?!

Did you really expect me to be silent on this all week?! I just did not want every post to be about the Chicago Cubs in the World Series for the first time in 71 years (1945), anticipating their first series triumph in 108 years. 🙂

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Regardless of what happens tonight, what a great series it has been! We have seen it all already – masterful pitching, clutch hitting, dynamic fielding, fantastic managing, and incredible fan support. Great for baseball. Great for true fans of the game.

Tonight should be a classic, whether it ends up being a pitchers’ game or a hitters’ game. And when the Cubs win, well, it will be simply bliss in Wrigleyville. And in a certain home in Hudsonville.

Hey, we did it in 1908! over the Tigers! “Michigan in Pictures” featured that 1908 World Series last Friday, and so we reference it today, along with a part of that post (below) and a picture of those 1908 champions.Be sure and check out that scorecard from 1908.

Are you picturing what I am after tonight’s game?! That’s right, a photo of the Chicago Cubs, 2016 World Series Champions.

Heavy.com has a great account of the 1908 World Series that includes photos and a recap of each game. SPOILER ALERT: The Cubs won. They do a great job of setting the stage:

The 1908 series, with the Cubs facing the Detroit Tigers — who were led by the greatest hitter of his era, Ty Cobb — was only the fifth World Series ever played between the National League and the upstart American League which had been in existence as a “major” league only since 1901. The NL was formed in 1876.

The great American writer Mark Twain was still alive the last time the Cubs won the World Series, as was the legendary Apache Chief Geronimo, as Sports Illustrated writer Mark Rushin noted in his history of the 1908 World Series. Both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were still around, and so was former slave and crusading abolitionist Harriet Tubman who, more than a century later, is about to get her face on the U.S. $20 bill.

Movies were still silent, and though radio had been invented about a decade earlier, the first baseball game broadcast in the new medium wouldn’t happen until 1921, 13 years after the Cubs last won the World Series.

Source: Tigers, Cubs, and the 1908 World Series

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Published in: on November 2, 2016 at 4:44 PM  Leave a Comment  

Samples of Recent Seminary Scenes

On this Friday (fun day!) we shall give you a sampling of some recent scenes taken at Seminary.

Yes, we do all work hard during the week, but we also look forward to Friday, when we are privileged to enjoy our special lunches (grilled brats, etc.), with special guests (such as Prof. Gritter’s mother from Redlands, CA) – and sometimes special birthdays – like that of our Singaporean student’s (Josiah Tan) wife, Hui Qi (or “HQ”, as we more easily and affectionately like to call her).

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The Tans also enjoy playing some ping-pong against each other. Can’t imagine. 🙂 We hope Josiah goes easy on his expecting wife (November)!

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Speaking of ping-pong, have you seen the new upgrades to the backstop this year? The students of the past have used assorted pieces of cardboard and wood to keep the ball from going into unwanted areas, but this year’s group has taken it to a whole new level. Hope they informed their wives about these sheets.

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And finally, while you are accustomed to seeing deer and wild turkeys on Seminary hill, you may not be used to seeing foxes. We aren’t either. But recently one mangy one (maybe literally!) was wandering behind the building at coffeetime (look carefully in the lower corner in the shade – it’s the best shot I could get!).

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And to this I can now add a few Fall pictures – not peak yet but still some good colors around.

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Have a great Friday!

O, and Go Cubbies! One more win at Wrigley and we are in the World Series! Now, that will be historic. 🙂

Published in: on October 21, 2016 at 10:51 AM  Leave a Comment  

Late Sports News Flash: Cubs Win NLDS Game 1 over Giants!

ChicagoCubsPicWhat a beginning night for the National League Division Series (NLDS) playoffs between the beloved Chicago Cubs and the pesky San Fransisco Giants!

In a classic pitching duel between Cubs’ starter Jon Lester (19-5) and Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto (18-5), the Cubs prevailed in the bottom of the 8th inning, when Javier Baez hit a home run into left field seats. And when Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs’ flame-throwing closer, came on in the top of the 9th and shut down the Giants to preserve the shutout, Wrigley Field erupted into a chorus of triumph. Yes, Cubs win! Hey, Chicago, what do you say?!

I hope you have appreciated my restraint in bragging about this year’s Cubs team. With a potent lineup of young players (except for “grandpa” David Ross!) and a loaded pitching staff, the Cubs and their devoted fans had high hopes for this season. And, indeed, they started strong, faded a bit in mid-summer, but then surged to the finish line, winning a MLB-best 103 games (against only 58 losses) and their Central division by a mere 17.5 games over their heated rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.

With a cautious conscience but a hopeful conviction, Cubs’ fans have been asking, Is this the year?

Perhaps it is. But we have a ways to go, and the competition will be stiff. One game at a time.

But there’s no better  way to start the playoffs than with a shutout victory on a late-game home run. Go Cubs, go!

October is baseball at its best. Enjoy. 🙂

Here’s part of last night’s game summary as provided on the MLB website.

CHICAGO — How well are things going for the Cubs? Javier Baez, inserted to the lineup for his defense, provided the offensive spark in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Giants. Baez launched a full-count fastball from Johnny Cueto into the basket rimming the left-field bleachers with one out in the eighth inning to lead the Cubs to a 1-0 victory Friday night at Wrigley Field.

Cueto had followed Madison Bumgarner’s example and thrown 7 1/3 scoreless innings before Baez connected. On Wednesday, Bumgarner shut down the Mets in the NL Wild Card Game, and the Giants arrived riding momentum from that win. However, Jon Lester was ready. The lefty, making his fourth straight trip to the playoffs, served up a leadoff single in the first three innings but kept the Giants at bay. He departed after giving up five hits over eight innings, striking out five. Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

Source: Cubs win NLDS G1 over Giants on Javier Baez HR | MLB.com

Published in: on October 8, 2016 at 6:44 AM  Comments (1)  

The Perfect Game (Baseball) – T. Challies

Last week Friday following the annual MLB All-Star game and break, Tim Challies posted this wonderful article on why he perceives baseball to be “the perfect game.” Since it has been a while since I spoke of this game that I also love (other than my annual summer baseball “read”), and since Challies says it so well, I will simply let him speak of the perfection of this amazing sport.

By the way, speaking of the All-Star game, did you notice that the entire starting lineup of infielders for the National League was made up of Chicago Cubs?! And did you know that one of them (Kris Bryant) hit a home run?!

O, and did you notice that these Cubs are still in first place in their division, 6.5 games ahead of their rival Cardinals?! It is, indeed, a good year to be a Cubs’ fan! Hang in there, Cubbies!

Below is the beginning of Challies’ article; find the rest at the link that follows.

Baseball returns this evening from its annual mid-season classic. As the teams prepare to take the field I find myself thinking about the game I love, the game that has gripped and fascinated me for as long as I can remember. It is, to my mind, the best sport, the perfect game.

As a child I dreamed of mastering baseball and spent hundreds of sunny summer afternoons chasing the perfect fastball, the perfect swing, the perfect one-hopper from left field to the plate. When night came I fell asleep listening to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth as they called the highs and lows of the Toronto Blue Jays and when sleep took me I dreamed of taking my rightful place on my team—George Bell, Tony Fernandez, Dave Stieb, and me. Eventually childish fantasy gave way to adult reality but even broken dreams did nothing to temper my passion for the game. A son was born and soon I began to introduce him to my game and to my team.

The cycle began anew. What is it about this game? Why is it that every April I feel a new optimism, a new hope, a new excitement for a new season? Why is it that every October I find myself longing for just a few more games, a few more series? Why do I have such love for this game?

Source: The Perfect Game

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Published in: on July 22, 2016 at 11:50 AM  Leave a Comment  

My Own Summer Reading List for 2016

My personal stack of books to read for this summer started growing this Spring, as did my reading of them (one can never start early enough!). After a winter of some heavier reading (those cold, dark nights stimulate the brain better!), I have added a collection of lighter books for my summer reading. But even these are stimulating my mind and soul well!

Here is my list in the order in which I obtained them, but not necessarily in which I am reading them (all are started now!):

Pope-Last-Crusade-EisnerHere is the publisher’s summary:

Drawing on untapped resources, exclusive interviews, and new archival research, The Pope’s Last Crusade by Peter Eisner is a thrilling narrative that sheds new light on Pope Pius XI’s valiant effort to condemn Nazism and the policies of the Third Reich—a crusade that might have changed the course of World War II.

A shocking tale of intrigue and suspense, illustrated with sixteen pages of archival photos, The Pope’s Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI’s Campaign to Stop Hitler illuminates this religious leader’s daring yet little-known campaign, a spiritual and political battle that would be derailed by Pius’s XIs death just a few months later. Peter Eisner reveals how Pius XI intended to unequivocally reject Nazism in one of the most unprecedented and progressive pronouncements ever issued by the Vatican, and how a group of conservative churchmen plotted to prevent it.

  • Honor: A History by James Bowman (Encounter Books, 2006; 381 pp.). This is our latest book club selection, and I am just getting started on it. This is not such light reading, but it will be profitable. Here’s the description in this one:

The importance of honor is present in the earliest records of civilization. Today, while it may still be an essential concept in Islamic cultures, in the West, honor has been disparaged and dismissed as obsolete. In this lively and authoritative book, James Bowman traces the curious and fascinating history of this ideal, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment and to the killing fields of World War I and the despair of Vietnam. Bowman reminds us that the fate of honor and the fate of morality and even manners are deeply interrelated.

  • Conversations With a Barred Owl by Margaret Clarkson (Zondervan, 1975; 115 pp.). This thrift store find is a fascinating “nature” read – another type of book I like to read in the summertime. If you are familiar with Clarkson’s poetry and inspirational writings, you know that she is a fine Christian writer (Grace Grows Best in Winter).

Barred-Owl-ClarksonAs the title hints, this is a “confession of a new bird watcher,” and fellow bird watcher John R.W. Stott writes a complimentary foreword. Clarkson herself says in her Preface:

All of life is one, springing from the boundless, creative life of God. I venture to say that there is no natural phenomenon from which we may not learn something enriching about ourselves and our God and the Creature-creature relationship we share. Certainly there is much to be learned spiritually from a study of ornithology.

The few chapters I have read on the yellowthroat, vireo, and loon demonstrate the truth of what she says.

Republocrat-Trueman-2010I knew this book was out there, but it took processing Prof.D. Engelsma’s library to put it in my hands and dig into in. An election year and the prospect of reading Trueman on the Christian and politics added this title to my summer reading list. If you want to be challenged and perhaps become a little unnerved, read Trueman. But you will be led to think things through biblically and be a better believer because of it.

  • A False Spring by Pat Jordan ( Dodd, Mead & Co., 1973; 277 pp.). You knew there had to be a baseball book in here, didn’t you?! Well, this is it!

Another older work (like last summer’s) but it comes highly recommended. This is the true story of the author’s short-lived professional baseball career (the first chapter will already break your heart!), such that he went back to university and completed an English degree. After teaching for a few years, he became a free-lance writer, contributing to such magazines as Sports Illustrated. I just received my used in the mail yesterday, but the little I have read shows the writer has honed his skills well.

Here is a little about his story:

In A False Spring, Pat Jordan traces the falling star of his once-promising pitching career, illuminating along the way his equally difficult personal struggles and quest for maturity. When the reader meets Jordan, he is a hard-throwing pitcher with seemingly limitless potential, one of the first “bonus babies” for the Milwaukee Braves organization. Jordan’s sojourn through the lower levels of minor-league ball takes him through the small towns of America: McCook, Waycross, Davenport, Eau Claire, and Palatka. As the promised land of the majors recedes because of his inconsistency and lack of control, the young man who had previously known only glory and success is forced to face himself.

Now, what are YOU reading this summer? Do these lists give you some incentive and ideas? I hope so. Tolle lege!

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Chicago Cubs give 100-year-old fan a special gift | Fox17

In case you haven’t noticed, the Major League Baseball season is well under way – and the Chicago Cubs are 25-8, in first place by seven games over the Pittsburgh Pirates, a divisional rival whom they play this weekend.

Yes, this could be the year Cubs fans have been waiting for for 108 years (they last won a World Series in 1908 – back-to-back WS wins, to be true to baseball history). And few Cubs’ fans have been waiting as long as this Chicago centenarian featured in a Spring training story back in March of this year.

Our local Fox News station carried the noteworthy news, no doubt realizing there are plenty of us die-hard Cubbies’ followers in West Michigan. Below find the summary of the story and then a video clip of the full story on Kate Harris and her love for the Cubs (follow the link below).

Cubs fans everywhere are crossing their fingers that this is finally the year. Few have lived through more of the team’s ups and downs than Chicago native Kate Harris. As she approaches her 100th birthday, the Cubs gave her a gift she’ll never forget. She threw out the first pitch at today’s Spring Training game against the Diamondbacks.

Harris says she wants to live to see a Cubs World Series win and thinks this is the year – but of course she’s been saying that since she was 12 years old and became a Cubs fan while home with Scarlet Fever.

Source: Not a World Series win, but Chicago Cubs give 100-year-old fan a special gift | Fox17

Published in: on May 13, 2016 at 6:03 AM  Leave a Comment  

My Favorite Books of 2015

Apologizing for the delay, yet posting it belatedly without hesitation, I present to you my favorite books for the year past, 2015.

Some of these are new books and some are older works, because that is the way I like to read. Keep in mind these are my personal favorites, not those for the Seminary library (perhaps I can compile that list at a later time for you).

Most will come as no surprise to you, since they have been featured here throughout the past year (and may continue to be in 2016). Some will perhaps come as a surprise because they were not previously noted here, and because I do indulge in a few novels each year (at least I try!), and actually did enjoy two.

My list is also an attempt to place them in order of significance to me personally, from bottom to top (#1 being the most significant).I also provide you with the link to further information on the book.

Perhaps from this list you will also find something worth reading or trying to read in 2016. In any case, read more and read better! 🙂

10. The Psalter by Galen Watson (Kindle ebook, 2012) – a really good Medieval ecclesiastical thriller – at least for me! History, archives, rare books – what was not to like?!

9. The Heart of the Order by Thomas Boswell (Doubleday, 1989) – my annual Spring/Summer baseball read – and a really good one at that!

8. Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald (MJF Books, 2007). My summer vacation read – not the best book on “Teddy,” but still a good read.

7. Coined by God: Word and Phrases That First Appear in the English Translations of the Bible by Stanley Malless and Jeffrey McQuain (W.W. Norton, 2003). One of many word books that I love!

6. A.D. 30: A Novel by Ted Dekker (Center Street, 2014). A thrift store find that caught my attention (as I have read other of Dekker’s works and enjoyed them) and turned out to be a fascinating (and easy) read. Try it, you may like it too. It has enough of everything to be enjoyed by a wide range of readers.

5. Just Dad: Stories of Herman Hoeksema by Lois E. Kregel (RFPA, 2014). An intimate, personal account of growing up as the daughter of noted CRC and PRC pastor and professor, “H.H.”. This was a fine – and fun – read; an important side to the man worth knowing.

4. The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America by John Demos (Vintage Books, 1995). This is another great thrift store find that I found toward the end of the year (I love early American/Puritan history). It is a detailed story of the capture of prominent New England pastor John Williams, his wife, and his five children during the French-Indian War. It was a story I did not know – quite incredible – and moving!

3. Prayers of the Reformers compiled by Clyde Manschreck (Muhlenberg Press, 1958). If you have been following my Sunday posts in the last year, you know about the power and impact of these prayers. A wonderful little volume to own and read!

2. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman (Zondervan, 2014). Again, if you have followed me through this book, you know why it is at the top of my list.

1. The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible, Joel R. Beeke, General Editor (Reformation Heritage Books, 2014). Nothing beats the best book in the world – and a good study edition such as this one makes its use even better for spiritual growth. If you need to know more, read Prof.R. Cammenga’s review, posted here.

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Here Are 18 Books You Should Read in 2016

I realize that in the last few weeks we have given you plenty of book lists with reading suggestions. But that was for 2015, and it is now 2016, and we need some fresh book ideas moving ahead!

The Heritage Foundation (a conservative think-tank) has put together some fine recommendations with a variety of titles and subjects – from American history to baseball to economics.

Here is their brief introduction and the link to their list, including one of the suggested books.

Looking for a good book to start the new year?

We’ve put together a list of recommendations by Heritage Foundation experts that will give you plenty of interesting reading options for 2016.

Source: Here Are 18 Books You Should Read in 2016

As for the book highlighted above, here is a description of it:

It’s a well-crafted history of the Underground Railroad, which weaves the stories of black and white American heroes who created an illegal, organic social network that helped thousands of slaves make good their escapes.

Bordewich shows how the Underground Railroad managed to balance and achieve two goals: shuttling individual runaways to safety and building a moral case for abolition throughout the North. It’s fascinating to see how a movement grounded explicitly in religious morality succeeded in the face of overwhelming secular opposition.

Salim Furth is a research fellow for The Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation.