by Kung Fu Zu 2/1/17
Sometimes, life pitches us a hanging curve ball, which we knock out of the park. One summer, I must have been thirteen or fourteen years old, our church had scheduled a series of sermons and wanted to get the word out. A group of us, all teenagers, decided to go out into our neighborhood and invite people to the revival.
We split up into groups of two and three, and piled into an adult’s car, whose responsibility it was to drive us to various points around the area and drop us off for our task.
Two other kids and I alighted on one street corner and started off down the road. We went from house to house, speaking to those who answered their doors and leaving fliers for those who were not home.
Today, one might not receive a warm welcome at many homes, but this happened fifty years ago in the South where people were both polite and religious. It also helped that we were clean-cut teenagers who were not trying to sell something. Rather, instead of goofing off, we were out hoping to bring people to Jesus.
Texas in the summer is hot, and walking in the sun for hours can be wearisome, but we were young and had grown up in Texas so the heat did not much bother us. (It would kill me today) Still, we grew warm and thirsty as the day went on.
Late in the afternoon, we walked into a cul-de-sac (as I recall) and started knocking on doors. Midway around the street, we approached a lovely house with a big white door. I pressed the door-bell and heard a loud ding-dong. Behind the door, we noted the sound of footsteps on a tile or marble floor.
The door opened and there stood MICKEY MANTLE!!!
Imagine the shock and awe which we experienced! In the mid 1960’s, there simply was no bigger name in American sports. Boys across the nation worshipped this man. He was their hero. And there standing before us was Mr. Baseball himself.
Somehow we got out the reason for our visit. To our amazement, he smiled saying, “You must be thirsty” and invited us inside for a cool drink. As he closed the door behind us, he called out a name and a pretty woman appeared in the hallway. She showed us into the kitchen sat us around the table and poured out a glass of iced tea for each of us. There we boys sat as the Mantles stood looking down upon us. We talked with “The Mick” and his wife for some minutes, but I cannot recall what was discussed. I think I was simply too stunned.
After finishing our drinks, we thanked Mr. and Mrs. Mantle and departed. Not long thereafter, our trio was picked up by the man who had dropped us off that morning. We told him our story and he made sure we knew how lucky we had been. We didn’t disagree.
I would love to close the story with some great ending or words of wisdom, but they fail me. Fifty years have come and gone and I still recall what a thrill it was for that kid, who was closer to ten than to twenty, to meet Mickey Mantle. But it was an even greater thrill to meet him and find out that he was a kind and generous soul who treated others with such warmth. A true hall-of-famer!
Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States. He will sometimes buy a vowel when he needs it. • (424 views)