John Mellencamp wrote a song called Jack and Diane. The hook to that song is this:
“Oh yeah, life goes on,
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone…”
I must’ve heard that song a hundred times before I listened to that line.
Ponder it with me for a moment if you will.
Many of us live way beyond our usefulness. Life continues to march in a forward motion.
But, how about the thrill, where did it go?
This applies to everyone, but let us look at the sports community. Boxers may be at the pinnacle of this group.
It seems many never know when it is time to hang it up. Speed and reflexes go first, then the power. That is why a boxer always has a ‘slugger’s chance.’ The thrill may have left him long ago, but Boxing lives on, with or without him.
That is why there is so many boxers with several retirements: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Larry Homes. Evander Holyfield…the list goes on forever, but the thrill won’t.
Baseball players are in the same boat. Why didn’t Willie Mays quit when he should have.? He was still at the top of his game in 1966. He should have stopped there, if the truth were forced out of hiding. That would mean that he ‘hung on’ for 10 years without the thrill. Oh he was still competitive after that. He won two more gold gloves and was on seven more all-star squads, but probably should not have been on most of those. Had he quit in ’66 he would have still finished with 542 HR, 1505 RBI, 2540 H, 1596 R, and a slash line of .312/.387/.591. All that in only 15 years, still with the thrill right on his shoulder.
Some leave right on time, in fact some leave early in our view. Sandy Koufax left at the very top of the game. There wasn’t then and there isn’t now a tree as tall as him in the Pitcher Forest. He left and took the thrill with him.