Gale Was My Hero
The Sports KIng
When I was a kid growing up and managed to reach the ranks of high school sports, there was one great player, who stood tall, above the rest. Gale was gifted in Baseball, football, and basketball, and if there had been soccer or a tennis team in our little high school, I'm sure he would have been the best. There has never been an athlete as good as Gale in the history of our school, and the head coach beamed whenever his name was mentioned. The girls all took notice of Gale when he walked down the hallway in his heavy letterman's jacket, with the big white letter and all of its hash marks, showing that he was a major player on the teams. Gale was all the envy of the other ball players at our school and everyone wanted to be just like him in sports.
I played on the baseball and football teams with Gale about three years. My career came to a grinding halt upon my severe injury to my spine in a late football practice. Although I was considered a good player in most accounts, my prowess was well below that of Gale. He was an extraordinary pitcher in baseball, a fantastic hitter and fielder. He could do it all with ease and precision. Gale was a great quarter back on the football team and led our teams to championships, when he played during those high school years. His name was mentioned all over the state and well known by many envious coaches. Colleges were taking notice of his athletic ability and following his games with great interest. If a player ever had a big chance to go on in the game of baseball or football into the annals of college sports , it would have been Gale.
After my debilitating injury, I was unable to join him again on our teams. As I began to mull over my condition and feel a little sorry for myself, Gale was always around to keep me focused on my high school goals of studying and making better grades. Gale was one of the few who stuck by me and I was grateful. I was a painter and had a great interest in art. I was considering attending an art school in Florida and continue to study. I was painting a few pictures about sports and decided to paint a huge one of a past football game that Gale and other players had been a part in, of the past year, as they went on to a state championship. My painting was done in oils and it took quite a while to paint it and let it dry. My access to supplies back then was very limited, and it was expensive for me to come up with all the paints and supplies that were needed to complete the art work. After about two weeks, the painting was complete and dried. The picture was of an entire football game with the players on a field, lit by lights and cheerleaders on the sideline, people in the stands cheered the team on, as Gale was unleashing a long and accurate throw to one of our leading ends and receivers on the team. All of the excitement and color that make up a football game on a delightful Friday night, was included in my painting. I took great care in making sure that all of the players on the team and their jersey numbers were correct, and even the opposing players on the defense were accurate. The day that I took my painting was a special experience for me. After spending the past two years feeling down in my spirits, and not being a part of the teams, I now was able to get a last and positive taste of the old feeling that I belonged. Many of the old team members and a lot of others students at the high school, admired my painting and its accuracy in depicting the players and the big game, that we were all taking a part in on that Friday night. Even the cheer leaders were impressed. When the head coach saw the painting he asked me to bring it in to his office for a closer look. Gale was right along with me as I handed the picture over to the coach and as he looked at the painting, he asked me if the numbers on the jerseys were accurate. I assured him that they were, and then Gale, intervened and asked me if he could have my painting. He said that he would be proud to own it and honored to do so. The coach looked at me and then back at Gale, and with my approval, handed it to my hero. I felt a chill as he took my painting and in knowing that for one brief moment, I was a part of that old team spirit and accepted one more time for a contribution, that meant a lot to a fellow teammate.
Gale and I graduated back in the sixties and went on our own separate ways. He never went to college that I know about, and I saw him one time later and shouted a how-ya-doing across the street in his direction. Many of the team members went on to college, as I did, and only two on our former team made it into college ball. The days of football and the other team sports of high school meant a lot to all of us back then, and I guess it was more special to some of us, than others.