Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Say it ain't so, Joe"

On September 28, 1920, "Shoeless Joe" Jackson left a Chicago court house after testifying to a grand jury about his involvement in fixing the 1919 World Series. As he walked away from the building, a young boy is said to have begged Joe to, "Say it ain't so, Joe." Joe made no comment. He was found innocent by the court, but banned for life from baseball for bringing shame to the sport.

In 2004, Pete Rose admitted he made bets on his team when he played. This came after years of public denial. His status as being permanently ineligible from baseball will ban him from ever being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

January 11, 2010, will be remembered as the day Mark McGwire admitted he used steroids. With his stellar batting accomplishments tainted by a decade of steroid use, his confession in making wrong choices will probably keep him, too, from the Hall of Fame. He joins the ranks of Canseco, A-Rod, Palmeiro, and Bonds -- men who knew better and still made bad choices -- all for personal gain.

Not that baseball has an exclusive hold on role models with feet of clay -- golf, bicycling, and the Olympics can each point to their own athletes who cheated to gain an advantage. I wish we all could "Say in ain't so," but it clearly appears that greed and power are hard to resist.

Having spent the last few days visiting my father-in-law in an intensive care unit, it dawned on me that men of integrity are the men to model. Dad lived his life honestly, giving his family a home and security. He is generous, often providing food anonymously to families in need. He is a man of faith, always striving to learn more about his Savior and God. He is a man of action -- doing -- not talking. He is a man loved and respected by all who know him. He may never hit a home run, win a race, wear a bowl ring, or accept accolades on a podium, but he is a hero to his family and a role model for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

How wonderful if it were so with all men.

1 comment :

The Layman said...

America’s heroes work their way up through media opportunities supported by the almighty, all knowing, advertising dollar. Rarely do we see a real man who can think fast enough to safely land an airplane in a river. OJ still struts, baseball players still use drugs, and Tiger who, does what? I would like to know how many class hours are spent each year explaining the virtues of personal responsibility for ones actions, and how do you get out of the ego trap of trying to make folks think you are what you are not. Our nation could and should stress personal honor from the first day of school. Perhaps that might play in Peoria, as well as the J C PLAYZONE.