We all have our heros. When I was a boy it was Mickey Mantle. I never got to see him play as I was born in 1977, but I went to many grade schools and read everything on baseball in each of them. During that time I read countless biographies about ballplayers. Mickey Mantle was my childhood hero. Like many boys my age, I tried to be like him as a player. Mickey was a line drive hitter, so I learned to be one. He played outfield, so I did too. What I knew about him that really set him apart though was that his father had held him to a standard that is unusual for a player. He was a switch hitter, meaning he could hit right and left handed. I practiced and practiced being a switch hitter. It is amazing how difficult it can be to switch to being a left handed kid for my turn at bat. Eventually I had to give it up. I could hit left handed against the right handed pitchers, but I was still a far better player when I batted right handed.
Just like as a boy I had heros, being a person recovering from an addiction I do as well. A long time friend of mine passed away this week due to complications from an open heart surgery. He had been in recovery for over 55 years. Like me, he had sobered up early in his life. I was 18 and he had been 23. He was a wonderful role model. He exemplified humility for so many people and he always cared. Even into his seventies he was active and would go on walking trips to Europe for weeks at a time. He used to tell a story about breaking into a liquor store in his youth by cutting a hole in the roof. It was always a fun story because he never thought to check the cash register, he just stole the alcohol. Well about a year ago or so, he cut a hole in my roof and installed a sky light. For some reason it seemed like he would never die. He ran around on my roof like he was twenty.
Even at this late stage of his life, he was teaching me. Honesty and a positive sense of pride was what he left me with that sky light. I was at my house when he was working on it and I watched him throw his business card into my ceiling before he closed it up for good. When I asked him about it, he told me he always threw his card into the roof so that he would be accountable for his work. If anyone came along years later and came across his card, his work would be the reflection of what kind of man he was.
I would bet he never threw his card into the roof of that liquor store when he was a very young man. At that time in his life, being accountable for his work was the antithesis of who he was. Being in recovery had changed him from a self-centered, thieving boy, into an accountable, responsible man. It had transformed him into one of my heros. Thanks Harry.