Miracle in Shreveport: A Memoir of Baseball, Fatherhood, and the Stadium that Launched a Dream
by David and Jason Benham
The Miracle in Shreveport is the story of twin boys that dream of baseball glory. In other words, it is the story of every kid that has ever picked up a bat or caught a baseball. It is the story of brothers at their best and at their most annoying. This story is about a father of faith and some extraordinary talent combined with dedication and hard work.
David and Jason Benham, the writers of this memoir, are twin boys of a preacher in Garland, Texas (a Dallas suburb). With little money and a lot of faith this book follows their story from little league, with a Grandpa that got it right, to high school ball, where basketball almost stole the dream. Where two poor Christian kids would be able play in college was answered in a jailhouse and where draft day put a whole family and audience on pins and needles.
I really enjoyed this book. Of course the nostalgia was glorious. The family involvement that it takes to make good athletes is heart warming in this story as well. The ode to baseball at all it’s phases was also touching. I especially liked the extended time they put into the minor leagues system. The Minors is not something a lot of baseball fans know a lot about, but this book opens your eyes to what it takes to make it to the Majors.
But by far the most touching and moving part of this story is the relationship these two men have with their God. Every sports fan, especially baseball, can read this book and enjoy it. But as a Christian athlete myself, the stories they speak about and the miracles they experienced were the most profound.
They talk about playing baseball to show glory to God. I feel like this is an under represented point in athletics among Christians. Singers are told often to sing as it praises the Lord. But that same glory can be give through sport. The Benham brothers did that throughout their lives. This book is a testament and blueprint to that.
They speak about refusing to play sports on Sunday. This is a story that mirrors my own athletic experience. I was a swimmer, a pretty good one too. All of the swim meets as I was growing up were Saturday and Sundays. As a Christian from an early age I had decided not to compete on Sunday. This only grew harder as I got older and faster. Yet I stuck by that promise to my Heavenly Father throughout my career. I refused to swim on Sunday, sometimes to my detriment but always to His Glory. The Benham brothers father, who is full of brilliant lines throughout the book, points out that the Lord saw these choices that the brothers had made throughout their life and was willing to fight for them. I know I felt this way myself as I signed my own letter of intent when just 4 years earlier my coach had told me I wouldn’t earn a scholarship if I didn’t swim on Sundays.
One of the best lines in the book, again by the writers’ father, is “The same God who parted the Red Sea is working for you, making a way when it seems there is no way. Never forget this. Take it all in.” These boys put in the athletic hours they needed to fulfill their dreams. But they went beyond that. They cleaned the locker rooms. They led Bible studies. They continued to praise, thank and glorify their God throughout their process, the ups and the downs. So why again, as Christians, are we surprised when their dreams and prayers are answered? Because we are human and forget so quickly the greatness of God.
I would recommend this book to all sports fans, especially baseball fans as there is a look at the game like you don’t usually see. I would recommend this book to parents of athletes, it gives you lots of to-do’s to raise and foster successful people and competitive athletes. But I would most highly recommend this to young, Christian athletes. It will give their sport a purpose and their life a meaning. It will remind them the God they worship formed the world, parted the Red Sea, raised the dead and still lives, and that God is on their team they just need to remember who and what they are. Children of God.
4 out of 5 Stars.