Two outs; bottom of the 9th, bases are loaded; the Cubs are behind by three runs

by DanWolgemuth on April 13, 2015

Spring is like a magnet that draws me back to the dreams of a child growing up in Wheaton, Illinois. In April the calendar flipped to baseball season, and with it, the heroic dreams of a child took flight.

The Cubs were loaded with talent. They sported an infield that was the envy of the league. In fact, in 1969, the entire Cubs infield was chosen to be on the National League All-Star team. I can still hear Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse chirp: “Santo, Kessinger, Beckert and Banks… the infield third to first.”

Dreams were painted on the canvas of Wrigley Field in the vivid imagination of a young man who formulated these images while throwing a tennis ball against the siding of a split-level house. The ESPNish catches that were made off the bounces filled the highlight reels in my mind. In spite of the outstanding talent on the Cubs lineup, they needed a hero, they needed me.

The scenarios were rich and compelling. Most often the offense had floundered and sputtered until the bottom of the 9th. The final at bat, the final opportunity… and then a pinch hitter with a German last name stepped into the batters box. Deficit erased. Celebration ignited. Victory won.

A hero was born.

Forget counting sheep… this was my nightly routine. It never got tiresome. It was never less dramatic. I would drift off to sleep throughout the extended baseball season with replay after replay playing through my mind.

Cubs win…. ! But alas, they didn’t.

And I for one never even competed in one baseball game. Not even as a little leaguer. Perhaps this was my way of keeping my dreams authentic. Reality couldn’t squeeze out any part of this vision. Not ever.

The dream to be a hero dies slowly. Certainly it morphs. The situation shifts, the dilemma expands, the stakes change… but the dream stays alive.

But then, something profound and powerful and humbling and real began to kidnap the dream; more appropriately it redeemed the dream. My definition of a hero changed.

The people that I describe as heroes are invisible, sacrificial, anonymous, courageous, humble, kind, and loving. Hearts, not headlines are what heroes choose to impact.

Heroes give generously. They serve gently. They love authentically.

They shun the spotlight because it’s irrelevant.

When Jesus implored Peter to follow Him, the call was into sacrifice, pain, punishment and death. This has now shaped my definition, even as it transforms my dreams.

Heroes live and love and lead by following in the steps of Jesus. There are no post game fireworks, no locker room interviews…

There are no statues in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Only words of affirmation from the King. This becomes the call. This becomes the crown.

It’s April. Dreams reborn. Hope renewed. And it has nothing to do with the Cubs.

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