The news in our nation has been discouraging lately to say the least. But in the midst of all the negative revelations we have witness in the past several months, this summer’s home run race in professional baseball has been an encouraging thing. In an age when we might have thought that all of the old-fashioned “good guy” heroes were gone, we have witnessed an encouraging display of old-fashioned character and traditional values.
When Mark McGwire hit his record-breaking 62nd home run of the season last Tuesday, Channel Five’s sportscaster Mike Bush pointed out that we had seen some examples of integrity and character.
First of all, when Mac hit that historic home run he remembered that he still had to touch all the bases. Even heroes have to play by the rules. As he rounded the bases, good sportsmanship was shown as he was cheered and hugged even by the Cub players, his opponents. Perhaps the most moving example of good sportsmanship was displayed by Sammy Sosa who applauded and cheered even though he is competing for the same record himself.
At home plate we saw the celebration of love between a father and son. It was moving to see Mark himself show such respect to the family of Roger Maris, whose record of 61 homers in a single season had stood since 1961. In a time when many professional athletes have chips on their shoulders and seem to thumb their noses at traditional values it was refreshing to see the humility of Mark McGwire in the midst of his success.
And of course the young man who caught that historic ball, Collinsville’s own Tim Forneris, showed an amazing lack of greed by giving the ball back. And when he gave it back he respectfully called Mark “Mister McGwire.”
The events of last Tuesday night may not have restored our faith in humanity completely, but at least it lets us know that values like fairness, pride, encouragement, good sportsmanship, love, respect, humility, and generosity are not dead. And it was great that our own St. Louis Cardinals, Mark McGwire, and Tim Forneris, one of Collinsville’s fine young men, were able to be a part of displaying that side of the moral fiber of our nation to the world.