Fifteen years after YouthCUE fertilized the Astro’s turf, Houston won the World Series

by Jan 26, 2018CUEnotes, Epiphanies

Watching the World Series at Minute Maid Park in October reminded me of an incident from 2002 in that very stadium.

YouthCUE had a big festival going on at Grace Presbyterian in Houston in June 2002, and we arranged to have the 270 singers at the game to sing the National Anthem. Because the group was large, the ballpark people brought us in from a gate in the corner of right field; we filed in and snaked around and lined up with six rows in a U formation in center field on the grass just beyond second base.

They took us onto the field ten minutes early, and we stood there holding our starting pitch amidst the thunderous commercial pregame music. We all got the first pitch (no pun intended) and sang a cappella and got a warm ovation from the rather small crowd in the stands. Small, because the Astros we’re not winning much that season.

When we hurriedly walked off and into our seats, word began to spread quickly among all the kids that “so-and-so on row four” of the choir had tossed her cookies during the anthem.

From our seats midway down the first base line, we could all clearly spy the small puddle of off-color vomit teed high upon the pristine artificial turf.

We thought surely one of the players or umps would eventually spot the nasty, steaming stuff and report it to the field keepers. It never happened.

The whole game was an astonishing display of base hits and pop-ups around that pile of puke. Every time the ball or a player would get anywhere close, the students in masse would scream like crazy, arms flailing, high fives and chest bumps. The rest of the fans were beginning to stare at us wondering what in the heck this mass of kids was yelling at. Ground balls and pop-ups near second base were getting far more attention from our section than scores or even two home runs hit by the Astros. Our reactions were totally disconnected from the reality of the game, and it made no difference who was batting or who was in the field. The students were into a totally different sphere, cheering on a sport with different rules and an alternative goal from everyone else on the field or in the stands.

Finally, in the seventh inning, the magic moment came. A batter clobbered a bounding scorcher that hit the bulls eye, directly through the exact geometric center of said regurgitation, causing it to explode upon impact and then disappear into oblivion, at which point our kids went absolutely ape … bananas … nuts! Three minutes later, totally exhausted and drained of all energy, all the kids sat totally silent, spent, through the rest of the game. Trudging from the park into downtown Houston, nobody knew or even cared who had won the game.

Four lessons might be learned from this experience: 1) teams that seldom win can transform themselves and might even win the World Series, 2) no matter what game you think you’re playing or what the intended agenda might be, at least one group of people is on a totally different planet, 3) in a world where everyone seems to have high blood pressure about people’s actions and reactions during the National Anthem, it’s comforting to know that, even in the holiest of moments, the need to hurl sometimes trumps everything else, and 4) kids are going to make their own fun, no matter what we have planned for them.

Happy singing … and all that goes with it! u



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Randy Edwards

Randy Edwards

Founder & President, YouthCUE & Minister of Music & Worship at Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX

Prior to devoting his full-time efforts to YouthCUE beginning in 2005, Randy served for more than thirty years as minister of music at First Baptist Church San Antonio, First Baptist Church Shreveport, Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio and currently at Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio. He served as Chorusmaster of the Shreveport Opera Company from 1991-1999.

He has composed twenty-one published choral anthems and has authored the most comprehensive textbook to date on youth choir ministry, entitled, Revealing Riches and Building Lives: Youth Choir Ministry in the New Millennium. With more than six hundred articles published in over thirty publications, Randy Edwards is one of the premiere specialists in youth choir ministry today. He is sought widely as a conductor, clinician, consultant, and teacher.