Get High on Life – 1

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 9, 1998

By Harold Keller / L’Observateur / September 9, 1998

I’m not a big pro football or baseball fan. This weekend, however, a fewthings happened that were refreshing, as far as I’m concerned.

I never get excited about the Saints, regardless of what they do. Majorleague baseball was once a passion of mine. I knew the standing of theteams in both leagues. I could repeat the batting averages, runs batted in,and home run totals of the leaders in each category. However, I got turnedoff of pro sports years ago with the big money and super-arrogant egos of some of the stars.

One manager said, “Nice guys finish last.” It seemed that most athletesaccepted this statement as gospel. Pride was in – humility out.What I found refreshing about this past weekend was the attitude and behavior of three professional athletes, a fan, and the reaction of an NFL coach. Two of the professional athletes are Mark McGwire of the St. LouisCardinals and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. They have been in a battleto break the home run record of 61 held by a former New York Yankee, Roger Maris.

The eyes of all America, baseball fans or not, have been on these two men.

They have handled the pressure and media with class. You can see therespect they have for each other.

Monday, Mark McGwire tied the record with home run No. 61. Sammy Sosahas 58, As McGwire crossed the bases, the TV cameras showed Sosa clapping in the outfield. After he crossed home plate, he picked up his son,the bat boy, and hugged him, waved to Roger Maris’s family, and gave a victory sign to his father and mother. His father was celebrating his 61stbirthday. What a coincidence!Sosa still has a chance to be the home run king, with about 18 games left.

With two class guys battling for a special spot in history, it’s hard to pull for either. The bottom line is baseball and America are in a win-winsituation.

The fan I mentioned earlier is a young, 28-year-old man who caught the home run ball. He could cash it in for megabucks, however, as of thiswriting, he said that he will not sell it, but give it back to Mark McGwire.

“It means more to him and to baseball than to me,” he said. Wow! Whatunselfishness! The other athlete I want to mention is Billy Joe Hobert of the New Orleans Saints. He was having a great game and then an injury that ended hisseason occurred in the fourth quarter. What impressed me about Billy Joewas his reaction to the injury. “It seems a bit unfair,” he said, “but whatcan you do? God has other plans for me.” (That’s what I call trust in God.)Now, about the NFL coach I mentioned. Mike Ditka of the Saints, not one ofmy favorite people, but I’m sure if he met me, I wouldn’t be one of his favorites, was quoted as saying: “This is hard on us, but it’s certainly hard on him. He’s a good kid. He’s got his life in order. That’s the mostimportant thing that he can have. Football will come and go, but your lifeis your life. He’s a proud father. He’s a proud husband. He’s a good guy.”Evidently, Billy Joe and Mike Ditka, according to their reactions, have their priorities in order. Life is much bigger than a football game.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

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