“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1
We all dream from time to time of being famous, don’t we? But what is fame – really?
Brenda and I met several years ago in a Bible study that was starting up in a tiny church just east of downtown Dallas. It was there in one of those get-to-know-each-other small group exercises that we were each asked to share where we attended sixth grade. Brenda, originally from Longview, Texas, told us that her family was living in Brooklyn, New York at the time she was in sixth grade. When asked why, she explained that her daddy had been a major league baseball player and was then playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. You can imagine how that got everyone’s attention. Then one fellow raised the obvious question going through all our minds. “Was your daddy famous?” He asked. I cannot adequately describe the gentle, sweet smile that appeared on her face as she lovingly and spontaneously answered, “He was to me!” What more could she have said to describe her affection for her father than what she expressed in those four simple words?
Charlie Neal (1931-1996) was with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1956-1961 where he played second base, going on to win the 1959 World Series after the team moved to Los Angeles, hitting two home runs in Game 2 against the Chicago White Sox. The 1959 season was Neal’s most spectacular where he had 177 hits with 19 home runs and 17 stolen bases, led the league in sacrifice hits and triples, won a Gold Glove at second base, played in the All-Star Game, and hit .370 in the six-game World Series. Charlie Neal’s career included playing in two World Series, one as champion, three All-Star games, and a Gold Glove Award – all the ingredients for being famous.
But it was not his baseball career that made him famous in the eyes of his daughter. To her his claim to fame was in being the loving father he was; for if he had been the greatest baseball player of all time and only that, he would have been “only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. But Charlie Neal became famous for what counts most in life – love. And that’s the real ingredient of fame, the kind we should all dream of.