WIDENING HOME PLATE: Are we guilty?

By Dr. Joseph A. Webb

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000
baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual
ABCA convention. Nineteen times since, many of the same professional, college,
high school, youth, and a slew of international coaches from passionate and
developing baseball nations have gathered at various convention hotels across
the country for two-and- half days of clinic presentations and industry exhibits.
Sure, many members of the American Baseball Coaches Association have come
and gone in those years; the leadership has been passed, nepotistically, from
Dave Keilitz to his son, Craig; and the association — and baseball, in general —
has lost some of its greatest coaches, including Rod Dedeaux, Gordie Gillespie,
and Chuck “Bobo” Brayton.
I have attended all but three conventions in those nineteen years, and I have
enjoyed and benefited from each of them. But ’96 was special — not just
because it was held in the home of country music, a town I’d always wanted to
visit. And not because I was attending my very first convention. Nashville in ’96
was special because it was there and then that I learned that baseball — the
thing that had brought 4,000 of us together — was merely a metaphor for my
own life and those of the players I hoped to impact.
While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran
coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the
weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same
sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”
Who the {in the world} is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy
to be there.
Having sensed the size of the group during check-in, I woke early the next
morning in order to ensure myself a good seat near the stage — first chair on
the right side of the center isle, third row back — where I sat, alone, for an hour
until the audio-visual techs arrived to fine-tune their equipment. The proverbial
bee bee in a boxcar, I was surrounded by empty chairs in a room as large as a

football field. Eventually, I was joined by other, slightly less eager, coaches until
the room was filled to capacity. By the time Augie Garrido was introduced to
deliver the traditional first presentation from the previous season’s College
World Series winner, there wasn’t an empty chair in the room.
ABCA conventions have a certain party-like quality to them. They provide
a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with old friends from a fraternal game
that often spreads its coaches all over the country. As such, it is common for
coaches to bail out of afternoon clinic sessions in favor of old friends and the
bar. As a result, I discovered, the crowd is comparatively sparse after lunch, and
I had no trouble getting my seat back, even after grabbing a plastic-wrapped
sandwich off the shelf at the Opryland gift shop.
I woke early the next morning and once again found myself alone in the massive
convention hall, reviewing my notes from the day before: pitching mechanics,
hitting philosophy, team practice drills. All technical and typical — important
stuff for a young coach, and I was in Heaven. At the end of the morning session,
certain that I had accurately scouted the group dynamic and that my seat would
again be waiting for me after lunch, I allowed myself a few extra minutes to sit
down and enjoy an overpriced sandwich in one of the hotel restaurants. But
when I returned to the convention hall thirty minutes before the lunch break
ended, not only was my seat not available, barely any seats were available! I
managed to find one between two high school coaches, both proudly adorned
in their respective team caps and jackets. Disappointed in myself for losing my
seat up front, I wondered what had pried all these coaches from their barstools.
I found the clinic schedule in my bag: “1 PM John Scolinos, Cal Poly Pamona.” It
was the man whose name I had heard buzzing around the lobby two days
earlier. Could he be the reason that all 4,000 coaches had returned, early, to the
convention hall? Wow, I thought, this guy must really be good.
I had no idea.
In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college
coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive
standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string
around his neck from which a home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home
plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who {in the world} is this guy?
After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging
around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some
of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly
where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about the home
plate since he’d gotten on stage.
Then, finally …
“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck.
Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice
growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the
possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I
stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in
my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”
Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches
were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”
After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than
answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the
house?”
Another long pause.
“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.
“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have
in the room?”
Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home
plate in high school baseball?”
“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.
“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home
plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.
“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”
“Seventeen inches!”
“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major
Leagues?”
“Seventeen inches!”
“SEV-EN- TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And
what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over those
seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing
raucous laughter.
“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay Jimmy; You can’t hit
a seventeen-inch target, so we’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches.
We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t
hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”
Pause.
“Coaches …”
Pause.
” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our
team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets
caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit
him, do we widen home plate?
The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog
lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward
himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it
toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly
drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With
our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t

teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet
standards. We widen the plate!”
Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American
flag.
“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going
downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be
successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing
others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”
Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.
“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of
authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity
swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”
I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something
about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned
something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around
his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own
weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and
others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith,
and our society continue down an undesirable path.
“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from
this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a
standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our
children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a
consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and
churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they
serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”
With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and
revealed its dark black backside.
“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of
hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA
convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and
inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever
known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.
His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they
are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”
He was, indeed, worth the airfare.
A clear example of widening the home plate in todays Pentacostal, Charismatic
and Holiness Churches:
The Azusa Street Revival was a historic revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles,
California, and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement. [1]
This Pentacostal revival was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It
began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. The revival was
characterized by ecstatic spiritual experiences accompanied by claims of physical
healing miracles, [2]  dramatic worship services, speaking in tongues, and inter-racial mingling.
The participants were criticized by the secular media and Christian theologians for behaviors
considered to be outrageous and unorthodox, especially at the time. Today, the revival is
considered by historians to be the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the
20th century.
By the year 2000, the spiritual heirs of Seymour, the Pentecostals, charismatics, and
many Holiness churches numbered over 500 million adherents, making it the second
largest family of Christians in the world. Today, practically all Pentecostal and charismatic
movements can trace their roots directly or indirectly to the humble mission on Azusa
Street and its pastor.
What you or I believe concerning this doctrine is not the issue in this illustration. The
important lesson is how the movement started; how it grew; and how it’s followers have
proceeded to “widen the home plate” when it comes to the permanence of the covenant
marriage law. They fail to recognize when a man and woman pledge themselves to each
other in marriage; they GIVE TITLE of their body to the other person. Hence, when they
think they can divorce and remarry, they fail to understand, God CANNOT, AND WILL
NOT recognize the second relationship, because the divorcee does not have title to their
body to give to the second partner; because they gave it to the first partner, and the term of
that title is “TILL DEATH.” Hence; If God were to recognize the second ceremony, He
would be violating His own righteousness, holiness and justice. This is why Jesus said in
Luke 16:18; “Whosoever; (This is the same word found in John 3:16, and applies to
ANYONE, ANYWHERE, at ALL TIMES) divorces his wife (or divorces her husband) and

marries another, COMMITS ADULTERY. NOTE: Jesus did not say, they became a
“blended family.” He said it constituted ADULTERY.
You may ask why God is so strict on this subject: First: Because marriage is a symbol of
Christ and His Church. Secondly; God desires a godly generation. Whatever we do in
moderation; our children will do to excess. Today, many church young people are not
marrying, but just “hooking up.” What will the next generation do when they have no
concept of marriage as a divine covenant?
How serious is this situation? Multiple times, the New Testament says: “The adulterer
SHALL NOT inheirit the kingdom of God.” I didn’t say it! Paul, who got his total revelation
directly from Jesus Christ, said it. He also said: “If ANYONE teaches ANY other doctrine
than I have taught; let him be accursed. Even if an angel changes anything I have said, let
them be anathematized.” Many times I ask individuals; Which part of SHALL NOT do you
not understand? Paul didn’t say; might not, or possibly won’t: but “SHALL NOT.” God’s
word is like silver, seven times refined; He speaks no uncertain word.”
Today, divorce and remarriage is rampant in this body of believers, and any suggestion
to return to the core values taught by it’s originatiors is met with charges of: “legalism and
bondage.” Consequently, the followers of this movement have widened their Homeplate on
this issue to “almost anything goes.” Present day constituents; whether they be pastors;
bishops; evangelists or members: now declare this remarriage issue is mute.
The board of directors of a Pentacostal college read Dr. Joseph Webb’s books and stated:
“What he says is scripturally indisputable, but we wouldn’t dare teach it here, or we would
lose at least 80% of our support.” Only God knows how big their official Homeplate has
become. How large is yours?

NOTE:
William Seymour and The Azusa Street leaders held to the earliest Christian
position as their official teaching on Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage and
Adultery.
In 1906 a series of religious meetings began on Azusa Street in Los Angeles,
California. This series of meetings is regarded as the movement that gave birth
to Pentecostalism and many Holiness chuches. The leaders of the Azusa Street
meetings decided to adopt the early Christian position as their official teaching
concerning Divorce and Remarriage.
Here is the footnote 127 (They believed and taught, without apology;)

127
“I. To marry a second companion while a former lives is adultery– sin– and is
forbidden (Mark 7:2,3; 10:11,12).
II. To marry a person who has a living companion is adultery– sin– and is
forbidden (Matt. 5:23; Luke 16:18; 1 John 3:4). 1. The above is the law of Christ,
and sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4)…
III. Men who have a knowledge of the teachings of Christ’s law regarding
marriage, and then with that knowledge marry a second living companion, or a
divorced wife or husband while their former companion lives, willfully from that
point transgress the law and are guilty before God of sin– adultery– and must
forsake their sin (1 John 1:9; 3:4). If we confess our sins He will pardon us. All
such unscriptural marriages must be dissolved to get clear from the sinful state
of adultery (Prov. 28:13; Isa. 1:16, 17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10.)
IV. If men entered the unscriptural marriages, even though ignorant of the
written law, yet condemned by the law of their conscience, such are not clear
before God (Rom. 2:12, 14-16)…Under the New Testament, no court on earth
should dissolve the marriage relation (Mark 10:2-9; Matt. 19:5-6). 6. Under the
New Testament, husband and wife are bound together for life. Death alone
severs the marriage tie.
7. Under the New Testament, there is but one cause for which a man can put
away his wife.
8. After a man has lawfully put away his wife, or a wife has lawfully put away
her husband, they are positively forbidden to marry again until the former
companion is dead (Mark 10:11, 12; Luke 16:18; Rom. 7:2, 3)”
In William J. Seymour The Doctrines And Discipline Of The Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission Of Los Angeles (The Complete Azusa Street
Library), Marriage And Family: Unscriptural Marriage, Separation Larry Edward Martin, ed. (Joplin, MO: Christian Life Books, 2000), p.119-
122.Found at: http://www.danielrjennings.org/ThisHistoryOfChristianThoughtOnMarriageDivorceAndRemarriage.pdf Accessed on
12/12/2016
NOTE: This was the official doctrinal position of the founders of this movement
that resulted in a mighty move of God the Holy Spirit, birthing one of the
greatest revivals in the history of our nation. If this was the eternal truth the
Holy Spirit planted into the hearts of these men of God back then: and the Lord

sent a revival; If the present day leadership have renounced it: GUESS WHO
MOVED. (God doesn’t change).

I totally believe this is why the Lord sent a revival at that time. Revival
demands repentance, (Admit it and quit it!) and obedience to the known will of
God, whatever the cost.
In Revelation 3. Our Lord Jesus wrote a letter to the “Church of Sardis,” He
warned them of the same problem; leaving what they originally believed. Listen
to the sterness of Our Lord to this church.
“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis,write; These things saith He that
hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou
hast a name that thou livest, and art DEAD. Be watchful, and strengthen the
things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy words
perfect before God. REMEMBER therefore how thou hast received and heard,
and hold fast, and REPENT. (NOTE: Another translation says it this way: “GO
BACK to what you heard and believed AT FIRST; hold to it firmly and turn to me
again. UNLESS YOU DO, I will come suddenly upon you, unespected as a thief,
AND PUNISH YOU.”) King James Version: “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I
will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come
upon thee.”
These very churches have widened the home plate to where one can hardly
believe they could possibly have been a part of such a holy beginning. What is
even worse, these same church leaders are now calling the very teaching that
birthed them: “legalism, bondage, and phariseeism.” May God have mercy on
them and bring genuine N.T. revival. They need to restore the 17” home plate!
AMEN?
For those of you who have been belittled, humiliated, and told to leave the
churches, because you believe in the permanence of covenant marriages;
remember; this is the way ALL of God’s TRUE PROPHETS were treated.
Therefore; “Be steadfast, UNMOVEABLE, always abounding in the work of the
Lord, foreasmuch as you know your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

We, at C.P.R. Ministries would appreciate it very much if you would forward this
newsletter to many of your friends. So few in our present day churches have
ever heard these truths preached from their pulpits. In fact, present day leaders
of these church groups have completely reversed this message and attack
anyone in their congregations who suggest the original leaders of their
movement were correct. Jeremiah 8:8 “How can you say, “We understand his
laws, when your teachers have twisted them up to mean a thing I NEVER SAID?”
Allow the Holy Spirit to birth a curiosity in their hearts. Maybe they will join us
is getting these truths around the world. “The fields are white already unto
harvest; BUT the laborers are few.” If the Lord reveals this truth needs to be
restored to His church, please contact us and join us in our efforts to enlighten
pastors and congregations the urgency of the Church restoring the families.
Remember: No nation is any stronger than the individual families! Jesus is not
coming for a denomination; but a people. Luke 14:25-35.
Dr. Joseph A. Webb; President of Christian Principles Restored Ministries
International, Inc.; P.O. Box 520729, Longwood, FL 32752.
josephwebb@cpr.com
SPECIAL NOTICES: C.P.R. addresses, are: josephwebb@cpr-
ministries.com and josephwebb@cpr-ministries.com
I just felt the Lord told me to remind each of us to reexamine our own hearts,
to make sure our Homeplate is still 17”. Malachi 3:6; “For I am the Lord, I
CHANGE NOT.” Malachi 2:16; “For the Lord, the God of Israel, sayeth that HE
HATES DIVORCE.”

THOUGHT TO PONDER:
A hypocrite is NOT someone who isn’t who they know they should be, but rather one
who knowingly, and willfully, walk in disobedience to God’s known will, and profess
righteousness.

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