I hope you enjoy this piece written by my dad, Bill Duckworth, as much as I did. I had never heard this story until last week when he sent it to me! I look forward to writing and listening with you again next week.
all good things, as always,
Standing behind a massive pine tree at Hattiesburg Country Club’s golf course, I was trying to control my laughter. Dizzy Dean, the great St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball pitcher from Wiggins, Mississippi, was playing in the Magnolia Classic’s Pro-Am golfing event. Dizzy was attempting to use a 5-wood golf club, but a baseball bat would have been no worse as the ball traveled into a deep ravine. Then, very quietly, Dean’s wife, Patricia, sneaked behind his golf bag, pulled out the 5-wood, and passed it to a friend saying, “Take this and lock it in my car.”
On the next hole, he asked for the club but his caddy replied, “You don’t have a 5-wood no more, Mr. Dizzy. Mrs. Patricia done locked it in the trunk of your Cadillac.” Shocked, Dean turned around and asked loudly, “Why did you do that?” Calmly, his wife of 41 years replied, “Because, you don’t know how to use a 5-wood. Now! Pull out that 2-iron and hit the ball!”
Reluctantly, he obeyed and struck the best shot of the day as the ball rolled within five feet of the hole. Then, to my surprise, he slammed the 2-iron to the ground as his face turned cherry red and shouted, “Dammit! She knows me better than I know myself!”
Dizzy spoke a world of truth in that one sentence. So did Jesus, who knows us better than we know ourselves, when he spoke of the blessings of obedience. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 New Living Translation). Now, he did not say it would be easy nor did he say it would be without mental pain. Ole Diz suffered both. However, Jesus emphasized listening – knowing – following.
Like the golfer, we sometimes want to navigate the course of life with a “5-wood” when Jesus has locked it away for our good. The essential knows that we have a God who reveals what is best for us when we listen, know his voice, and follow his commands. The result may be hard, but the payoff will be both joyful within and fruitful without.
I often reflect on that 1972 event and the wisdom of Patricia Dean who laughed along with us. But the key to the day was not Patricia or a specific golf club. It was the obedience of a Hall of Fame baseball player who yielded to the voice of one who spoke truth.
As Dizzy finished his round of golf and walked off the course, he plopped onto the seat of a golf cart next to Patricia. He smiled. “I’m sorry, darlin’. You always know what is best for me!” She kissed him on the cheek. “You know I say it because I love you.”
God says it also. From “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1) until the end, “Surely, I am coming quickly. Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:21) Why? Because he loves you. Today and always: Stay the Course of Obedience!
Two years after this event, Dizzy died of a heart attack. Patricia lived on another seven years. They are buried side by side in an obscure cemetery in her hometown of Bond, Mississippi. But the baseball legend’s voice still speaks through modern technology so please enjoy “listening” to the country boy sing his classic, The Wabash Cannonball.