Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Missouri

I first met Ryan Howard, first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, when he was playing here in Springfield, Missouri for the Missouri State University Bears. He impressed me as being a very nice young man. I recall I asked him what he did if he had any kind of personal problem in his life and he said, “I talk to my dad.” Ryan said he and his dad had always been close. That’s why I was surprised to read in the media last November, 2014 that he was experiencing family and financial problems (that included his dad) for the past two years, which, in my mind, explains why his game had slipped during that time. But he must have smoothed things over with his family, including his dad, because he’s having a nice spring training, having hit three home runs. Just another example of: what takes place away from the baseball diamond affects what takes place on the baseball diamond. Go Ryan!

When I lived in Kansas City, Missouri I had a friend who was a professional football player in the NFL. He was 6’ 8” tall and was considered one of the nation’s top defensive linemen. My friend, who was not happily married, was a national celebrity who had an enthusiastic following of young fans who looked upon him as a role model.  On one of his team’s trips to New Orleans he did something he had never done before: He had a one-night stand with a young groupie. A few months after returning to Kansas City, he found out the young lady with whom he had had the affair was pregnant. She wrote him a note but did not threaten in any way to go public with what had happened. When the baby was born, my friend, feeling he should help support the child, approached his wife and told her what had happened and that he wanted to send the young girl money every month to help her and her new baby. His wife was vehement and would not allow him to help her. My friend became despondent. It played heavily on his emotions and he kept the entire episode bottled-up deep inside himself. He was not proud of what he had done and he knew that if his affair became known it would negatively affect his image and that he would be seen by his fans as a hypocrite. Which he wasn’t. But he would rather die than have his affair become public knowledge. Not long after, because of the stress, which affected his immune system, he was diagnosed as having lung cancer (even though he never smoked but had been working around heavy duty equipment and exhaust fumes) and within 18 months he was dead. I have always believed that if my friend had not been a celebrity, and just a normal mortal being like the rest of us, he would still be alive today.


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