Jesus has the power to take away our fear of death. He did with Mickey Mantle—and He can do it for you, too.
Few baseball players are better known than New York Yankee Hall-of-Famer Mickey Mantle. But few people know that Mickey was a big practical joker. One time, he invited teammate Billy Martin to hunt on land owned by a friend. Arriving at the farm, Billy sat tight while Mickey asked the farmer for permission to hunt. The farmer agreed but asked Mickey for a favour. “I have an old sick mule I need to put down, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Would you?”
Mickey agreed. Returning to the pickup, he put on an act for Billy, yelling, “He won’t let us hunt. We’ve wasted a three-hour trip. Some friend! I’ll show him.” Grabbing his rifle, Mickey Mantle stomped off toward the barn where he shot the mule dead.
Suddenly, Mickey heard shots and ran toward the sound. There stood Billy Martin, yelling, “I shot two of his cows, let’s go!”
Well, I’m happy to inform you that the story isn’t true. It’s an urban legend. But another Mickey Mantle story is true. It was told at his funeral by teammate Bobby Richardson, the Yankee second baseman.
Bobby told of Mickey’s shenanigans, then said, “Mickey was always laughing, but underneath it all there was a fear of death that he tried to cover.” Before the last game the two played together, Bobby invited a friend to talk to the Yankees. The friend told them “The Bible says three things:
- There’s a problem, and that problem is sin.
- The answer to the problem is Jesus.
- The Bible demands a decision.”
Then he addressed a question he wrote on a blackboard. “What have you done with Jesus Christ?”
Many years passed. Bobby got the call that Mickey was dying. Would he come for a final visit and speak at the funeral? When Bobby arrived at the hospital Mickey Mantle said, “I’ve been wanting to tell you something. I’ve received Christ as my Savior.” Mickey’s face was shining with joy. When Bobby’s wife arrived, she said, “Mickey, if God asked you, ‘Why should I let you in My heaven?’ what would you say?” Mickey answered, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son and whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Bobby Richardson told the church packed with media and sports celebrities, “If Mick could hold a press conference from where he is today, I know he would introduce you to his true hero. The One who died to give him everlasting life, his Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
Mickey once said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” How good to know that in the end, God took good care of Mickey, redeemed him and took him home.