Some childhood memories we easily recall. Of others, we have to be reminded. This is one of those incidents.
My hero: Ted Williams was his name. Theodore Samuel Williams. Eventual Hall of Fame left fielder of the Boston Red Sox, unanimously selected. Arguably, the best left handed hitter in all of major league baseball history. Many say the best hitter of all time. He was the last batter in the major leagues to hit over .400 in a season (.406 in 1941). Lifetime batting average: .344. Career home runs: 521. All this while missing 5 full seasons in the prime of his baseball career as a Marine fighter pilot in WW II and Korea.
TEDDY BALLGAME. THE SPLENDID SPLINTER. THUMPING THEODORE. In 1949 he became my hero. I practiced his swing continually while watching him on TV, once knocking off a corner of the set with my baseball bat. Ouch! Just a wee tiny piece. Still doubleouch!
As the story goes, the local preacher came to our house to get us children (4 of us) to go to Sunday School and Daily Vacation Bible School.
I was 10 at the time and already known as being very independent and perhaps somewhat stubborn. Preacher says, "Leon, how about you?" My answer: "Naw, my Ted Williams is more important than your Jesus Christ." WRONG. WRONGER. WRONGEST. An eyewitness says that is the way it happened. My mother was absolutely horrified. I invoke a Hillary Clinton: "I don't remember."
I tend to not remember some of the bad incidents, but remember the good.
Twice as many years later at age 20 during the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years in college, unforeseen events happened. Due to my Dad's two heart attacks, my parents had returned to the Lord while I was away at college. They were attending a Christian & Missionary Church in downtown Philadelphia, a really long boring ride. I told my parents I didn't want to go to church with them way down there. My Dad said, "As long as you are living under my roof and I am paying some of your college expenses, you are going." I went, too. I was doing great in college, both with grades and in sports and in student government, but I began sensing an emptiness, a THIRST. I was gradually becoming aware of a spiritual THIRST that summer (faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God).
At the end of the summer the Lord Jesus Christ became my Personal Savior. RIGHT. RIGHTER. RIGHTEST. The last two years of college were different for me. Participation in the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship campus group was a definite blessing, helping me to grow spiritually. Fellowship with other Christian students was most meaningful.
"On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is THIRSTY, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'" John 7:37,38.
"Jesus answered,'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never THIRST. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" John 4:13.
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up on the last day." John 6:37-39.
The Lord Jesus Christ is my owner/manager/coach...
Ted Williams (deceased) is still my favorite baseball player.
My older sister Jean helped me with this story.