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.)