CHICAGO – I currently sit anxiously pondering where, and in all the ways that I have gone wrong… what could I have done better. I currently think these thoughts while I watch Joe Torre speak on the subject of a gentleman known to us all as Mr. Cub – Ernie Banks. An athlete such as Ernie makes all our heads turn, whether you’re a superstar yourself or a “regular joe” from Chicago, sitting in the bleachers with your Old Style and a hotdog. Aman such as Mr. Banks, held you breathless. He held you and your thoughts suspended in awe – made you wonder, as I do now, what could I be doing better.
With all the turbulence in our time, it pains me to think how mediocre it all is in comparison to his struggles and those of my grandparents and your grandparents in the late 50’s and 60’s. Whether you’re white, black, yellow or blue – that time in our history was about survival and it was about figuring out for ourselves what was really right and what is inherently wrong. But ultimately, when push would inevitably come to shove, life is what it is… life.
It’s in moments like these, when someone great passes onto their next adventure and leaves us on our worldly one, that we take notice. Of course, moments of greatness, of Championships, of records, of dominance – all these moments allow us to stop and take notice. And though many times in the sports world, these moments are of success, they rarely truly define those that accomplished them.
“The riches of the game are in the thrills, not in the money!”-Ernie Banks
Speaker after speaker, over and over, a singular message was transmitted through each man that took the podium this morning – Ernie Banks was a better person than he was a baseball player and my god could he play the game of baseball.
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Baseball mourns and celebrates today, the city of Chicago, mourns and celebrates today. But when it comes to hockey, such devastating news hits their community all too soon. Less than two months ago, the NHL mourned the loss of probably it’s classiest member – the same singular message from today was transmitted from his family, the Montreal Canadiens organization and players across the league.
Sure, Monsieur Jean Beliveau could play the game of hockey, he did so greater than many in the history of the game – but it was his class and his character – his love for those around him, for his teammates, that made him who he was. These were the traits that left us breathless and in awe – these are the traits of the men and women that live in history books and folklore – these are the types of people that show us who we are, what we could be and most importantly, what we should be. They show us how to be decent human beings.