I certainly was a Mickey Mantle fan. When I was a boy I think I was the only Yankee fan in the whole state of West Virginia. All the rest were Yankee haters. I was a Yankee fan because of Mantle. No doubt a large part of my grieving for him was grieving for my lost childhood, but there was more. I was genuinely touched by the grace with which he lived his last days. Nobody could put it better than Bob Costas did:
"...in the end, something remarkable happened--the way it does for champions. Mickey Mantle rallied. His heart took over, and he had some innings as fine as any in 1956 or with his buddy, Roger, in 1961. But this time, he did it in the harsh and trying summer of '95. And what he did was stunning. The sheer grace of that ninth inning--the humility, the sense of humor, the total absence of self pity, the simple eloquence and honesty of his pleas to others to take heed of his mistakes."
He referred to a cartoon in the Dallas Morning News which showed St. Peter with his arm around Mickey, saying: "Kid, that was the most courageous ninth inning I've ever seen."
It was a reminder again that we often minister to one another best, not when we minister out of our strength, but out of our weakness. Members of AA know this, and this is at the heart of the Christian gospel. God reached our hearts, not when He approached with His strength, but in His weakness, on the cross. His "strength is made perfect in weakness."
©C. David Hess