Sermon Illustrations

In 1955, the New York Yankees chose 22 year-old John Malangone as the probable REPLACEMENT for VETERAN catcher Yogi Berra. Though he could THROW a BALL from HOME PLATE and HIT the left field FENCE 368 feet away with a SOLID POP and had consistently BATTED over 300 through the MINOR LEAGUES, John had a HANDICAP he couldn’t overcome--his PAST.

When John was five-years-old his BEST FRIEND was his Uncle Orlando, age seven. The two were INSEPARABLE. One day John, Orlando, and some other boys made a makeshift JAVELIN out of a BROOM HANDLE and on old UMBRELLA SPOKE. A pile of SAND was the TARGET. When John’s turn came, he HURLED the JAVELIN farther than anyone thought he could. It sailed past the SAND PILE and STRUCK his Uncle Orlando in the HEAD.

This HORRID scene HAUNTED John’s every waking moment and often TORTURED him through his DREAMS at night, for John believed he had MURDERED his Uncle Orlando. Although YEARS had PAST, that BELIEF was LITERALLY driving him CRAZY. After repeated STINTS in the MINOR LEAGUES, John was finally CUT from the Yankees in 1959. For the next 32 years, John remained a PRISONER of his PAST. He DRANK heavily to FORGET.

That’s what John Malangone did. In 1991, with the help of friend Ron Weiss, John was finally able to FACE his PAST. He spoke of the ACCIDENT for the first time with his 80 year-old mother. He looked up the DEATH CERTIFICATE and read the medical examiner’s REPORT: the contributing cause of death was “ACCIDENTAL.” A week later, John told Ron, “I wanna play BALL with a clear mind, for the first time in my life.” The two joined a New Jersey LEAGUE for men over 40. John’s strong ARM and ACCURACY won him a job as a PITCHER. In 1994, they were playing in the Roy Hobbs World Series. John won two games on the MOUND and singled home Ron for the RUN that won their team the NATIONAL TITLE.