My Hero

When I grew up, Mickey Mantle was my hero. He could do no wrong. He was a homerun hitter, a New York Yankee, and seemed to be a heck of a nice guy.

I’ve read some articles on Mantle, recently, in fact there’s a fairly new book about him. It does not make him out to be a very nice guy. Alcoholic, womanizer, adulterer, foul mouthed, you know, a Boston Red Sox kind of guy.

Why wasn’t any of this publicized? How come none of this ever came out in the press? Because people liked heroes back then, and a hero was faultless, blameless, and, well a hero.

Ever meet somebody you looked up to and found out they were a moron? I met Frank Robinson, Hall of Fame player for the Baltimore Orioles. He was a complete jerk. Very disappointed.

As I write this, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone saying LeBron James was a “nice guy”. No, I haven’t. In fact, I hear the exact opposite. Yet he’s a “hero” to many (but not anyone from Cleveland).

Thurman Munson was another “hero” of mine. Got to meet him. I tracked him down like a wounded deer, just to shake his hand. He was walking quickly away with his wife after a game in Cleveland. We were outside the stadium and he kept walking as I kept pursuing. His wife, Diane, said, “Oh Thurman he just wants to shake your hand”. Thurman turned around grudgingly but shook my hand. Not the nicest, but when I read about him, he adored his family, and was very private with his life, so his time with them was valuable. I respect that. That same adoration for family lead to his death as he crashed his plane while taking flying lessons in Akron so he could go back and forth between New York and Cleveland to be with his family.

Astronauts used to be heroes. Presidents used to be heroes. As a little boy, I liked John Kennedy. I respected him. Kind of a hero, but his brother Bobby was my hero. He stood up for those who couldn’t. He was a loyal man, great ethics and morals. Then he was murdered. I kind of lost my taste for politics after that. And heroes that weren’t faster than a speeding bullet.

I understand that it is well documented now that John Kennedy was a womanizer and adulterer. Nobody ever reported it because they respected the office of president. (Bet Bill Clinton wished he was president then.)

For some reason, we’re not allowed to have heroes anymore. Michael Jordan? Womanizing jerk. Martin Luther King? Adulterer. Ben Rothlesberger? Sex offender. Thomas Jefferson? Slave owner who impregnated slaves. Tiger Woods? Nut job. Christopher Columbus? Slave owner. Charles Barkley? “I ain’t nobody’s role model”.

I miss having heroes. They bring you to a time of goodness. A time of kindness. A time of hope. A shining example for all of us to be like. All my heroes are flawed. All my heroes have a dark side. All of them are imperfect, they all have weaknesses like kryptonite to Superman.

Except Jesus. My Hero. Perfect. And the difference with this hero is that He knows me. He loves me. He died for me. He adores me. Even when I have my flaws. Even with my weaknesses. Even with my dark side. Even with my imperfections. Even with my kryptonite moments.

My Hero.


2 Responses

  1. How many times can I say that I love your blogs! (oh… and you too)

  2. Joe, you touch on a good point. And I think that point is that it is okay to have heroes. But we set ourselves up for disappointment when we begin to idolize our heroes – when we begin to worship our heroes. Heroes are always flawed -they are human. Our humanity allows us to be great in one area of our lives; but flawed in another area. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have heroes. We can celebrate their greatness in their field. We can celebrate their accomplishments. But we must stop short of building an alter to them. That is where we make our mistake. Feel free to celebrate Mickey Mantle, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and the others. They all made contributions to our lives in one way or another. But do not worship them. That is reserved for Jesus. That is a whole ‘nother level, my friend.

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