Calcaterra: Even grownups can have baseball heroes

From Craig Calcaterra at The National Pastime Museum on October 10, 2016:

It’s hard to have heroes these days. Especially ballplayers. Ballplayers are human, and all humans have faults. But heroes aren’t supposed to. Today, in the information age, we know everything about ballplayers, and the more information we have about someone, the less heroic he’s likely to seem.

I’ve had baseball heroes, however. Two of them, in fact. And what made them heroes in my eyes was different in each case.

The first, Alan Trammell, was the traditional sort of sports hero with which we are all familiar. While I am a Braves fan today, I lived in Michigan until I was 11, and thus the Ralph Houk/Sparky Anderson Tigers of the 1970s–’80s formed the basis of my baseball DNA. My family had season tickets in Tiger Stadium, and we were always right behind home plate. My parents tell me that I went to my first game in 1978 on the Fourth of July. I don’t remember a thing about it. The first game I do remember was June 17, 1979, against the California Angels. Trammell hit a home run that day, so he instantly became my hero. If Champ Summers or Aurelio Rodriguez had homered maybe it would’ve been one of them, but it was Trammell. That’s how heroism works for a child. I idolized him in that odd way only a child can idolize a stranger about whose life one knows nothing. Indeed, it was precisely because I knew nothing about his life that I could project all manner of heroism onto this shortstop in white and blue.

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Originally published: October 10, 2016. Last Updated: October 10, 2016.