I lived in the Cincinnati area for awhile. I went to a few opening day games at Riverfront stadium. My son and daughter-in-law are Reds fans. And baseball has been a part of me since I was a kid. My friends would meet me in the park and we would divide into teams and just play. I would always want to be Micky Mantle. Everyone knew it was a business but who knew how far our gods would fall.
Although gambling on professional or even collegiate sports you play or coach is now considered unacceptable, it was somewhat common in baseball during the early 20th century. Some of baseball’s most talented and well-known players publicly won large sums of money when teams won the World Series – players were often suspected of betting on their own games. This all changed, however, after the White Sox purposefully lost the World Series in 1919 for a payoff. Outraged, Commissioner Ban Johnson, former player and manager Christy Matthewson and White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, among others–made it a priority to clean up the game and repair its reputation.
On On August 23, 1989, as punishment for betting on baseball, Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose accepted a settlement that included a lifetime ban from the game. Many still debate whether Rose, a former player who remains the game’s all-time hits leader, should be given a second chance. I enjoyed watching Pete play ball – Charlie Hustle was a fitting nick-name. In light of the A-Rod doping incident the game has once again lost a little luster. A-Rod was a dream come true for the storied Yankees franchise, but alas, like in all things human we pull the curtain aside and we see how tarnished everything really is.
I wish it were different. We make these men out to be gods and they are not. Think about who the real heroes in your life are today and thank one of them. That’s right, pick up the phone, send an email, or just drop by and see them and say to them, “You were someone who really made a difference in my life and I wanted you to know. Thank you.” A thank you can be a powerful weapon against idolatry because you need a real person to speak those words to – a flesh and blood human being.