If you're a baseball fan, you should have known that this past weekend was "Hall-of-Fame Weekend" in Cooperstown, and men such as Whitey Herzog, Andre Dawson, and Doug Harvey were inducted into the prestigious Baseball Hall of Fame. These three men mentioned have accomplished a great deal in the game of baseball, such as umpiring numerous All-Star Games and World Series, leading teams to championships as a head coach, and leading a team by hitting, running, and being successful in fielding.
Is this all you need to become an inductee into any hall of fame? No. Not in the least bit. Last time I checked you have to be more than just physical talent. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says something along the lines of: "To know what kind of a person a man is, walk around in his shoes for a while" [Paraphrased]. This man has to love what he does, and show it in his work every day of his career. It doesn't necessarily mean to be an awesome player and then do so much humanitarian work that you make buckets of cash from endorsements and then donating it all to charity. No, it doesn't work like that. This man has to be the ultimate definition of influence in the sport and be willing to reflect that influence in every aspect of life, be it on the field or off the field. (Gregory Peck is a boss, by the way.)
When a person is eligible to have their named etched into history, different aspects are taken into account as to why they should be immortalized in a Hall of Fame. Okay, he hits a lot of home runs or he scores a lot of touchdowns or she's the fastest runner in the history of the sport. Does that mean he or she automatically gets in? Not necessarily. What has that person done off of the field? Did that person a good example in their daily life? Did they take their time out to help out those who needed hope and life when that all seemed too far gone to them? Were they faithful to what they did and not abuse their privileges in their respective sport? Were they honorable and respectful to the rules and followed them efficiently? See? Isn't it a little harder now? Maybe not. Can you name a couple of athletes and coaches today that fit some of these things that I mentioned? I bet you could. I know I can with no problem.
When I think of all of the men (and women) that have been elected to a hall of fame from any sports organization, they not only had credentials on and off the field, but they also had the capability to spread their smile and their own personal magic among so many different people. They didn't have fanbases just because of their talent, but because they were the nicest people to grace the presence of the sport. Their talent gave people hope and inspiration--enough to make a huge influence on the path that they want to take in life. Men who grew up watching Wayne Gretzky, Larry Bird, or Cal Ripken, Jr. might have been inspired to the point where they wanted to play the sport and make it a part of their life. Women who grew up watching Mia Hamm, Lisa Leslie, or Jennie Finch may have also received that inspiration to make the sport of their choice a part of their lifestyle. If they didn't inspire them to play a sport, it inspired them to become better people and teach them the sportsmanship that is required off of the field.
These men and women that I mentioned are [or will be] in their respective hall of fame for a reason: they love what they do, and their showing of it made a major impact in people's lives. Regardless of whether these men and women are former players, coaches, officials, or even broadcasters, their love of the sport is what's making other legacies rise and the youth (and old too) have the gleam in their eye. Without these legendary figures, sports are nothing. These guys are like the war heroes that show pride for their country and are willing to fight for it in times of trouble. These hall of famers are the heroes and idols that we all would want to be like someday.
I want to be like my heroes someday, too.