God blessed me with a great Dad. My earthly Father, who was such a great Dad to me and my three siblings (see my sister’s post here, and my brother in law’s here), also happens to have been a great athlete. He averaged 30 points and 20 rebounds per game his senior year at Southside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Southside is one of the largest schools in the state and it has a long tradition of competitive teams. After his senior season in High School, he played so well in the State High School All Star game that he was voted the game’s MVP. He was also an All American, and much else could be said about his basketball career. As for baseball, the only reason he wasn’t drafted out of High School was that the scouts knew that his dad wasn’t going to let him sign. He would be the first member of his family to go to college and earn a degree.
This past Friday, October 12, 2007, the college where my Dad played basketball and baseball, Ouachita Baptist University, inducted him into their sports Hall of Fame. Much could be said about the success he had on the court and on the field in college, but I’m going to fast-forward to what happened after he graduated. He went to Florida to play rookie ball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. I had been born in April, right before he graduated, and my dad made what I am convinced was absolutely the right choice.
When he ran out of money, he hung up the spikes and the dreams, came home to me and my mom, and got a coaching job, becoming a great husband to my mom and a great Dad to me. He left the chance for glamor and took the humble course to true greatness. That’s heroic! That’s unspeakably better than taking steroids, hitting more home runs in the big leagues than Babe Ruth, and being miserable and booed and hated and mean. Praise God for my dad!
The video below depicts the part of the ceremony that honored my Dad by inducting him into the OBU Sports Hall of Fame. My remarks are pasted below the video.
Induction of James M. Hamilton Sr. into the OBU Sports Hall of Fame
Friday, October 12, 2007
Jim Jr., with help from my sister Dayna
A little over 33 years ago a young man who had recently graduated from OBU found that his dreams were not going to come true. He ran out of money and had to go home and get a job. This forced him to give up his dream of playing major league baseball. He wasn’t going to become every little boy’s hero by playing in the big leagues, so he went home and became one little boy’s hero: mine.
We’re here tonight to celebrate his induction into the OBU Sports Hall of Fame because, as my college baseball coach told me, when your dad hit the ball he really put a charge in it. We’re here tonight because he could hit it, because he could throw it, and in basketball, because he could shoot it from the cheap seats with deadly accuracy, because he could sniff out rebounds, and because he knew how to hustle, knew how to work, knew how to train, and loved to compete.
All that’s great. And in our society these things are highly valued. As Paul said, “physical training has some value” (1 Tim 4:8).
But what I want to tell you about has to do with things that may not bring the crowds to their feet here but that have a deeper, longer lasting value.
So he’s going into the OBU Hall of Fame because he could throw and hit, rebound and shoot, but there’s a wife named Jeanne and four kids name Jim, Dayna, Mindy, and David, who have better reasons to put him in our own “Hall of Fame.” He’s in our Hall of Fame because:
- In an culture where too many men break the vows they made to their wives, he stuck it out with our mom.
- In a culture where too many men love their careers more than their families, he made tough choices to make sure he would have time for us.
So he goes into our Hall of Fame because:
On Sundays he made sure that our family gathered with the body of Christ to worship.
Almost every morning he made us breakfast.
Almost everywhere he went he took us with him. DZ: Letting us know he wanted to be involved in our lives & spend time w/ us
Almost every Saturday we had do-nuts together.
Almost every one of our games, from T-Ball to High School, he coached.
As he tried to help me and David become pitchers, he caught thousands of fast-balls that weren’t very fast and curve-balls that didn’t curve enough.
As he tried to help us become fielders he hit us thousands of pop-ups, line-drives, and grounders.
As he tried to help us become hitters he threw thousands of fast-balls that could have been thrown a lot faster, curve-balls that could have curved a lot more.
As he tried to help us become better shooters he rebounded thousands of missed (!) shots and threw us thousands of passes.
Dayna Added These:
He passed on a strong work ethic and encouraged us to finish what we started
He took the time to get to know our friends-even now he’s known as ‘everybody’s PawPaw’
He taught us to care for others by including those less fortunate in our family fun
He has cared for countless widows and the fatherless are drawn to him.
We didn’t go looking for love in wrong places b/c we had a loving family at home
We knew he must have been a really good player by the number of people who recognized him and wanted to talk w/ him
He is faithful to pick up the phone to let us know he is thinking about us…even if it is a quick call
He is ready w/ an encouraging word in whatever we’re involved in
As he tried to help us be better students he went over thousands of spelling words.
Long before we could spell, he read thousands of children’s books.
As we grew up, he was always wise and encouraging.
As the two of us who are married approached marriage, he and mom were there to help and support.
As we’ve been blessed with children, his grand-kids, he has loved them the way he loved us when we were little.
In all these ways, Jim Hamilton Sr., my dad, acted like Jesus, who looked not only to his own interests but to the interests of others, who sacrificed his own will to the will of the Father in heaven, who laid down his life to be a blessing to others.
He goes into the OBU Sports Hall of Fame for four years of prowess on the basketball court and baseball field.
He’s in the “Hall of Fame” for his wife and kids because of a lifetime of living out Christ-likeness in the way that he has loved us.
We love you, Dad.