Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who Is Cheering For You?

There was a famous baseball player named Joe Dimaggio. When he reached the ripe old age of forty, or somewhere around there, it was becoming apparent that he would soon be finished his illustrious playing career.
It was the last game, of what would be his last season, and everyone knew they were watching Joe Dimaggio play his last professional game. Ever. The stadium was packed. The air was electric. The fans were expectant. It was going to be an exciting game, regardless of how things played out.
Before the game, Joe's friends, family and managers told him to just go out and enjoy. "Don't worry about the game. Just go out there and enjoy your day. You've had an illustrious career, your reputation is amazing. Nobody will remember what happened today. Just go out there and enjoy it to the fullest."
And so he went out there, ready to follow their advice and enjoy the game. He came up to bat, and all around the stadium, excited fans were yelling his name, cheering him on. It was as if they were saying goodbye and thank you with their loud cheers.
The pitcher threw the ball. DiMaggio's "advisers" watched in amazement as he hit the ball out of the park. "Ok, that was a goodbye present to his fans," they thought. "Now he'll take it easy."
But DiMaggio proved them wrong. In the next inning, a ball was hit in his direction. It was a surefire hit, probably a double. But Joe raced in and made a spectacular catch, saving a run from scoring.
Again and again, throughout the game, DiMaggio made his presence felt. He hit the ball each time he came up to bat. He made play after play. All around the stadium, 55,000 fans cheered themselves hoarse. Here was their hero, giving them a show they would never forget.
The game ended in a victory, mostly thanks to Joe DiMaggio and his awesome plays. Reporters gathered around DiMaggio, excited to get one final interview with the legendary player. The questions being thrown at him were to be expected. "What will you do now what you are retiring from baseball?" And "will you come back to the game as a coach or a manager?" It was getting late, and Joe promised to answer one more question. One reporter pushed his way in and said, "Joe, weren't you told by all your family and friends and managers to go out and enjoy the game, not to strain yourself worrying about your last impression? What made you go out there and perform the way you did today?"
Joe DiMaggio smiled and answered. "I was planning to take it easy. Really, I was. I didn't expect to strain myself and do all that. But I stepped up to the plate, and all around the stadium I heard 55,000 fans cheering for me. They were saying "Go Joe! Go! Go Joe! Go!" I heard them cheering like that, and I thought to myself, how could I possibly disappoint them? I simply had to do my very best!"

I heard this story from Rabbi Naftoli Reich, and he added the following: "Forget 55,000 people! When I are faced with a challenge, and I am tempted not to do my very best, Hashem Himself is cheering for me! He is saying "Go! Go! Go! You can do it! Go!" When I hear Him cheer for me like that, I think to myself, "how can I possibly disappoint Him? I simply have to do my very best!"

I heard this story years ago, but it has remained with me. I'm in bed, and I suddenly remember that my mother asked me to shut off the computer. I didn't. I should. I don't want you get out of my cozy bed. But then I remember Hashem cheering for me, and I just can't let Him down. Or I am about to bite into my piping hot supper. I know I should check my blood sugar. But my meter is upstairs in my room. I don't want to get up and let my supper cool. But then I listen to the sound of G-d cheering for me, and I know I have to do it. Or someone asks me to drive someone to visit a sick child in the hospital. I don't have a good reason not to, but I don't have patience. So I am about to say no, but I don't want to disappoint Hakadosh Baruch Hu, who is cheering for me to grab at the mitzvah.
Because, after all, what is 55,000 fans cheering when Hashem is cheering for you?

(Please note: as I mentioned, I heard this story years ago, and I don't remember all the details, so the story may not be 100% historically accurate, but please don't let that stop you from appreciating the moral.)


BrooklynWolf said...

so the story may not be 100% historically accurate

Yeah, I'm afraid it's not.

Joe Dimaggio did not hit a home run in his final game.

His last game as a pro was Game 6 of the World Series in 1951 on October 10. Of course, no one knew it was his final game as the Giants could have won the game and forced a Game 7. In addition, I don't think anyone would have told Joe that the game doesn't matter if it was a World Series game. In any event, he didn't hit a homer in that game. His last professional home run was in Game 4.

His last regular season game was on September 30 of that year. But he didn't hit a home run then either. His last regular season home run was two days earlier on Sep 28.

The Wolf

MusingMaidel said...


G6 said...

Great Story!

harry-er than them all said...

R' Aaron Rakeffet has a hesped on Joe Dimaggio. he says there are a few things we can learn from him. Basically, as far as I could remember it goes something like this-

1. He safely got on base 56 straight games. its still (i think) unbroken.
It tells us we have to be consistent, that one day on, one day off isn't good enough.

2. He always hustled. He ran to his position at the beginning of the inning, and ran back to the dugout at the end. When he was older, a reporter asked him "why run? You made your point. Everyone knows who you are?"
He answered "there may be one kid out there who never saw me before. I want them to see me at my best"

As Jews, we represent. There is no off-time. We must always be at our best.

Staying Afloat said...

I love this. It's a beautiful, positive take on the whole "Hashem sees everything you do" concept, really building in the love He has for us.

Thanks for the chizuk.

anon#1 said...

Hey, Joe Dimaggio got a song written about him - he must have had some zechus!

whoever said...

i dont know a thing about baseball, but i love the lesson you can take from it.
thanks for sharing it with us!

harry-er than them all said...

anon#1 -
two songs (both by Jews)
Joe dimaggio card- by abie rotenberg

and Mrs. Robinson- by Simon & Garfunkle

Something Different said...

BW- yeah, I figured that was the case. I almost didn't post it because I was pretty sure that one of the bloggers, I presumed a male blogger, would correct me on the details. I like the story though, so I am not thinking about the fact that it didn't happen. The lesson is just as good. :-)

MM-isn't it? :-) It really works if you think about it.

G6- Thanks! I think so too! It's one of my favorites. :-)

HTTA- interesting. I wonder if my story is a highly embelished version of the second thing you said.

SA- My pleasure! I hope it helps!

Anon- it's hilarious that you say that, because I actually got that song stuck in my head yesterday and until I saw your comment I couldn't gifure out why... :-O

WE- my pleasure! Glad you liked!

corner point said...

Regarding the truthfulness of the story--whether all the details are true or not--l'maysah, they don't say this story about you and me, do they?

Really really great post...

Something Different said...

CP- one day, iyH they will. :-)
And thanks!