Stevieslaw: Childhood’s Heroes

Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cub’s star from the 50’s and 60’s died Friday night. It took me back to the 50’s in New York City, when baseball was king. We had our choice of sports heroes in New York City, but mine was Mickey Mantle—the switch hitting center fielder for the Yankees. Even now, if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can see the shot he hit that nearly went out of Yankee Stadium—a prodigious feat.
I was a pretty poor baseball player. Now I play tennis and I’m not ashamed to admit that Roger Federer is my tennis hero. I worry about his ailing back in the same way I once worried about Mickey Mantle’s knees. Sure, I am 35 years older than Roger and unlikely to grow up to be as good, but it doesn’t seem to matter. That’s what so strange about watching the great ones play. Like it or not, I feel like a child again, with a child’s sense of wonder. I’m back in Brooklyn, back in front of a tiny black and white TV, back with the same feeling of invincibility, and with the certain knowledge that everything, everywhere, is going to work out just fine.

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