Last weekend, while moving furniture at my grandmother in-law’s house (heretofore known as Ossie), I came across one of the great little surprises of the year. First, you should know that we are in Greenville, South Carolina and that Ossie has probably never heard of Michael Jack Schmidt.
Before moving the cedar chest, we decided to open it up and look at all of Ossie’s treasure. We found a lot of typical 92 year old grandmother items. Then, lying on top of old family pictures and McDonald’s sugar packets from 1981 was the July 1987 issue of the Christian magazine, Guideposts.
This would not normally be a very exciting discovery or all that surprising if the cover were donning anything other than the mug of Mike Schmidt in a 1980’s, maroon pin-striped, zip-up Phillies uniform. I’m fairly certain I shrieked with excitement!
The title read, “Mike Schmidt: The Best and Worst Year of His Life.”
The discovery would get even better because the cover story was not an interview or something written by a lowly staff writer. No, it was written by the Schmitter himself.
The next few pages describe his friendship with Andre Thornton, and his struggles of the 1978 season.
“My batting average was an anemic .251. The press got on my back. The ‘boo-birds’ in the stands never let up. The harder I tried, the worse things got.”
Shmidt also expresses how success, fame and money were unfulfilling and left him searching for more. The rest of the story is about how he came to faith as a Christian and witnessed the birth of his daughter. He articulates the things in life that truly matter most like faith and family.
“In that unforgettable moment I knew for certain that life wasn’t about money or status or cars, or even baseball stardom.”
To most of us, our sports heroes are just that, heroes. They aren’t normal, they don’t struggle, and to us, life must be better on top.
Sports heroes can’t always be open and honest in the media for fear of backlash. And let’s be honest, there are a lot things we don’t want to know. But in this case, it’s nice to know more about the person and character of my favorite baseball player, and the greatest 3rd baseman of all time.
Thanks for saving this little treasure, Ossie. And thanks to you Micheal Jack, for being honest with us about life, even if it was written 25 years ago.