Thursday, September 14, 2006

T-Ball Coach Mark Downs Has Lost His Moorings

Mark R. Downs, 29, of Dunbar, Pennsylvania, coaches 8 and 9-year-old boys in baseball. Near the season’s end there is a tournament, which is typical for most youth leagues. And also typical is a rule that says every player on the team must play some number of innings. That of course attempts to keep coaches from being so competitive that they only play their best 9 players and every other kid then sits on the bench for the whole tournament. Most parents have faced the ordeal of encouraging their child when they don’t get much if any playing time.

Downs apparently was overtaken by his competitiveness because he offered one of his players $25 to hurt a 9-year-old mentally disabled teammate. Obviously if the child was hurt then Downs would not have to put him in the game.

Eight-year-old Keith Reese testified in court that Downs made him the offer before a June 27 playoff game. “He told me if I would hit Harry (Bowers) in the face he would pay me $25,” Keith said.

Today a jury convicted Downs of two misdemeanor charges and acquitted him of the more serious charge, a felony count of criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault.

Most of the commentary (journalistic and blogger) about Downs just says he is a jerk. Maybe. More precisely I contend that Downs has lost his moorings.

When a ship is moored or tied to a dock, it is prevented from drifting away and being lost. God creates people with unique and purposeful design. People have tremendous capacity to enrich and bless. When we become “untied” or disconnected from God, when we lose our moorings, then we are left to the ravages of the seas and we become broken and fallen. Downs squandered a strategic place in the lives of boys to enrich and bless their lives.

I pray for Downs to experience a “wake-up” call and use this episode to turn his life around. He is the father of two daughters. I also pray for the boys that the trauma of testifying in court and the sad memory of a spoiled summer can be used for positive life lessons. All would benefit greatly by being connected to the Creator.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a book I read a very long time ago. The pages have longed yellowed, but yet these tear stained pages reflect the impact Much-Afraid had on me that I have forgotten about. Finding the book tonight reminded me the journey Much-Afraid had to take to get to the High Places where “perfect love casteth out fear.” Through her journey at one point Much Afraid really considered the possibility of following the Shepherd no longer, of turning back. For a moment or two Much-Afraid actually thought she was looking into an abyss of horror, into an existence in which there was no Shepherd at all, nothing but her own horrible self. She shrieked and cried out to the Shepherd and found herself clinging to Him, trembling from head to foot, and sobbing over and over again “You may do anything, Shepherd. You may ask anything – only don’t let me turn back. O My Lord, don’t let me leave you. Entreat me not to leave Thee, nor to return from following after Thee.”

You see today I tore loose of the moorings and began to disconnect. There was pain and grief in the eyes of a friend as I declared my running just like Much-Afraid. As I said goodbye I so wanted to embrace this person but knew if I did the stream of tears would never stop. When we become untied from the dock we float aimlessly through the waters with an emptiness that cannot be put into words. All of our efforts, gifts and talents mean nothing. It is like we stay alive but are not living. Tonight I have cried out “You may do anything, Shepherd. You may ask anything – only don’t let me leave you. Retie me to the dock.” I pray when my friend reads this that joy and thanksgiving will replace the pain and grief I saw today and that the Shepherd will be able to say "I'm glad you came back."

If anyone reads this comment and are disconnected I highly suggest you read a very powerful book Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It is a journey with taking but remember it will be hard and sometimes difficult, but it will always be safe to obey the Shepherd’s voice, even if it seems to call you to paths or waters which look impossible or even crazy.

Scott Brewer said...

Thanks for sharing the book title. I have heard of it but have not read it.

Appreciate the reflection.

Darlene said...

update..Keith Reese has since became a Christian young man..he attends church and Christian youth Camps!1 He loves the Lord and trys to live for Him each day! He is a straight A student in school. Last year was his last year playing ball for the clark league. He is going to play for his high school this year in hopes to go pro ball!! His younger brother Kory still has two years of ball with the clark league and his baby sister will play T-ball in about a year and a half!! Keith has grown and learned from this expeirence in his life!! We thank God for that...Mark Downs has a long record of offenses before and after this happen!! We pray for him and have been praying for him and his family!!
Harry Bowers never played baseball again after this incident but has since moved on with his life!! We pray for him and his family as well and pray for salvation of everyone involved!!
Thanks for writing on this matter and for those who have commented!!
The Reese Family

Darlene said...

update...Keith Reese has since become a Christian young man.He no longer plays baseball for the clark leauge.He is a straight A student and He plays for high school ball now in hope to go pro ball. He has learned and grown from this expierence in his life.He goes to church and to Christian youth camps!! His brother Kory still plays for the clark leauge and has two more years to go. His baby sister will play T-ball in a year and a half!!
Mark Downs has had many offenses before this one and some even after this one!! We are praying for him and his family!!
Harry Bowers never played baseball again but has moved on with his life!!
We thank you for writing about this story and for those who have commented!! We continue to pray for all those involved in this matter!!
The Reese Family

Scott Brewer said...

Thanks so much for the update. It is very special to hear from you and I'm grateful for the way God has been at work in your family.