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Monday, February 18, 2019

Hall of Shame

I’ve managed to visit two sports Halls of Fame in my time. In the early 70s, a friend and I found our way to Cooperstown, New York, to check out the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Loads of fun seeing images and stories of the greats—many of whom I saw while growing up in Minnesota as a boy. Including those “darn” Yankees like Mantle, Maris, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford.

Later, while living in Pittsburgh, I had media passes to attend three Hall of Fame NFL games in Canton, Ohio. Of course, that ticket comes with a visit to the museum. Today, they spread this event out over a few days. In one of the years I attended, my Vikings hero Bud Grant was inducted. I was moved.

Of the major sports, I’ve not been to see the tributes to basketball, hockey, or golf greats. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The World Golf Hall of Fame is in St. Augustine, Florida.

There are other Halls of Fame, of course. I’ve been to the Country Music Hall of Fame and museum in Nashville, Tennessee. The Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio. Missed that one along with a plethora of others.

But now…Indiana can take pride in its own special display. It’s the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting! The Chicago Tribune describes it as “a decidedly irreverent monument to sports mascots,” adding that it has been a bright spot for the community located about 25 minutes south of downtown Chicago.

Perhaps it’s obvious that along with displaying the costumes that have graced the sidelines of sports stadiums, this is as much a tribute to the talents of those who wear those costumes. The Trib notes, “There is an exhibit that asks you to strap on 40-pound sandbags (to approximate the weight of a costume), then dance and monitor your heart rate. It’s not easy being fuchsia, or having a baseball for a head, while entertaining thousands.” I guess not. Especially in very warm and humid locations.

Whiting feels blessed to have landed the Mascot Hall of Fame. The city had hired a consultant to capitalize on their undeveloped waterfront. A couple of historical museum ideas surfaced. Then they connected with Dave Raymond who, for several years, served as the Phillie Phanatic mascot for the Philadelphia baseball team. Now a marketing executive, Dave put Whiting on the path to their mascot tribute. It is something the city believes complements their other special event—Pierogi Fest. About a quarter million people feast on that each July.

So I’ve been thinking. Maybe some community will develop the Hall of Shame! We could have busts of several presidents who couldn’t keep their pants on. Add governors of various states (including Illinois) skilled in manipulation and abuse of power. Throw in some Hollywood legends or business tycoons taken down for harassment, embezzlement, and other crimes.

In fairness, the Hall of Shame would not be complete without well known church leaders. Some have bilked mass sums of money from trusting souls. Some have used their bully pulpit to be, well, bullies—as we’ve recently read about in Chicago. A number of Catholic and Protestant church leaders are now also having their sexual sins exposed. You could fill entire halls in the museum with these folks.

It would be quite the place to visit.

The only trouble is, there might be a spot for all of us in the Hall of Shame. As the Bible clearly explains, “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one;'" (Romans 3:10, NIV). Later in Romans we read, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23, NLT)

Yes, there do seem to be certain standout performers in messing with sin. Most of the rest of us fall in the hidden category. And all of us need repentance and forgiveness.

There would be no charge to visit the Hall of Shame. But most assuredly there has been a price to pay.

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