The inevitable fact about competitive sports is that, for every winner, there’s a loser. You know what I mean: for all the joy in St. Louis today, there’s pain and sorrow in Dallas. For every nine-year old Cards fan whose life has brightened incredibly because her hometown heroes pulled off a miracle, there’s a nine-year old Rangers fan who feels like life is ending. I know, because as a 12-year-old Dodgers fan in 1962 I recall well the ecstasy of the Dodgers’ comeback victory in Game 2 of the National League playoffs that shifted immediately to deep sorrow when the Dodgers lost the deciding Game 3 to the Giants, blowing a ninth-inning lead. I cried my heart out, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. This revolving door of joy and agony that we put ourselves through spins faster for baseball than for any other sport.
Some — and my fictional character, Adel Miller, is among them — hold their heroes so closely to their hearts that they come to believe they are their heroes, or that their heroes have a special, mystical relationship with them. For Adel, it was Jackie Robinson, who spoke words of love to her that no one else could hear. For me, it was Duke Snider, the great ballplayer I dreamed of becoming. Fortunately for both Adel and me, we met our heroes, we touched them, they became real people we knew as well as the lights of our imaginations.