I'm really not a sports guy.
I used to be afraid to say things like that out loud, but I've recognized over the years that it's just not my thing. Keep in mind that I'm not against sports in as much as I don't memorize stats, am unfamiliar with the common knowledge of this arena, and never played any sports in school.
I'm okay with that.
I grew up in the Chicago area, and so I have a strong sort of family connection to all Chicago teams. It's kind of cool that the Chicago Bears are doing well (see my last post), but if you think I know their player roster like I may have known the 1985-86 team, think again. I'd need to use a lifeline on a gameshow if the question was sports related... even Chicago sports related.
I'm okay with that, too.
So it was rather ironic that yesterday I found myself sitting across the table for a private interview with Detroit Tigers pitcher Jason Grilli. It turns out the recent World Series participant was on hand to support a local Big Brothers Big Sisters building that opened up in my community. The great metropolitan newspaper I am a mild-mannered freelancing reporter for sent me out to cover it, which made for a rather full Sunday (since I traveled and preached in the morning, too). So without any knowledge of this guy other than those straight facts, I was supposed to interview him.
Have you ever been in a situation where you're supposed to know what to do and feel like you're faking it? Kind of like you're impersonating yourself? It's a bit crazy, isn't it?
Anyway, I found out quite a bit about Mr. Grilli, from his time in Toledo, Ohio where he played a key role in his team clinching the championship to the stint where he pitched for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic (I'll pretend to know what that is). What was most striking, though, was the humility he credited gaining by being in the World Series. You'd think this came about by losing to the Cardinals, but it actually seemed to come from a deeper place.
I'd like to share some of the quotes from the interview (many of which didn't make it in the final article due to space), keeping in mind that some of them were from him and some were prompted by my ignorant questions:
- "I was invited to come over for this event and immediately agreed. Coming off of the season we just had as a team I knew that if I could lend whatever credentials that's given me to an organization like this, then that's what I'm going to do."
- "I didn't know a whole lot about these people and what they do... I learned a lot today about the program and enjoyed the chance to ask some questions about what goes on here. It really is an amazing thing and I'm humbled to have been a part of helping out."
- "I'm a guy who tries to use any of the spotlight that I might be in to help shine some light back on the community. Kalamazoo really supported the Tigers this year, and so if I could help it out in any way then that's what I'm all about."
- "There's more to life than just baseball. I've been at the top where everybody loves you as well as down and out where no one is cheering for you at all. The maturing process that has afforded me is that it's more important to give your time than it is to write a check."
- "One kid in particular seemed to be in awe of me, and so I told him to pull up a chair and just hang out with me. His Big Brother encouraged him to ask me some questions, and so we ended up having a real good conversation over a soda."
There are a few more things he said in the same genre, but what really came across to me in the interview is that here's a guy who is trying to be a part of something bigger than his own interests. To paraphrase something he shared on the side, he doesn't get a lot of time off and chose to spend the day signing autographs to get some people into the new Big Brothers Big Sisters facility (to generate interest in their program) in lieu of napping at home. I had the sense he really meant it and was passionate about making an investment.
I know this is common among many people, celebrities and non-celebrities alike. Yet for some reason it just felt refreshing, especially when he mentioned he'd not had any direct experience with the mentoring organization before. I know Denzel Washington is something of a national spokesman for the Boys and Girls Club because of how it impacted him personally growing up. Yet here is an example of someone aligning himself with a story he's not a part of... and yet feels he is.
I dont know... I think there's something rather sacred in that.
"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of Philippianshilipiians 2:4)