A good guy, with a ghost

A recent ESPN.com headline caught my attention:

Torii Hunter one of the good guys

Now, as I may have mentioned a time or two, I'm a devoted fan of the Texas Rangers. As such, I don't exactly root for Hunter, an All-Star outfielder for the rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. (I did like the movie.)

But I enjoy stories that go beyond the numbers in baseball, so I found the top of the ESPN feature on Hunter quite promising:

If Torii Hunter is not the friendliest, best-liked and most quotable player in the major leagues, he's certainly in the starting lineup and likely batting no lower than cleanup.

"I think that's about as safe a statement as you can make,'' Angels outfielder Vernon Wells replied when asked if Hunter is the game's friendliest player. "He's one of those people who is legitimately kind to everyone, no matter who it is. No matter if it's a random person working at the stadium or the best player in the game, he's the same person. He always has time to talk to people and get to know them on a different level. It's impressive to watch.

"He could run for mayor in Orange County and do anything he wanted to. The same in Minnesota -- everywhere he goes. He's loved everywhere. You give him enough time to get out and greet people and get them to know his personality, he could run for any position anywhere.''

At 1,400-plus words, it's a fairly well-developed piece that offers behind-the-scenes insight into what makes Hunter the way he is.

For instance, there's this:

Hunter says he came by this personality from two sources: his grandmother, Edna Cobbs, and his mother, Shirley (who still teaches grade school in Pine Bluff, Ark.). "My grandmother was the type of woman who always smiled and said treat people like you want to be treated and life is so much easier. My mom is the same way.''

Now, "treat people like you want to be treated" almost sounds like the Golden Rule, as advocated by Jesus Christ (see Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31).

As I read the ESPN piece, I kept wondering if faith might play a role in how Hunter approaches his baseball career. But like a 250-pound slugger missing a fastball thrown right down the middle, this piece whiffs on that key question, leaving a big, giant ghost.

I did not have to try hard to solve the mystery. I Googled "Torii Hunter" and "faith" and found a recent Beliefnet interview with Hunter on "how his faith helps him set a good example."

For example, what circumstances led to his relationship with Christ?

I was raised in the church by my grandmother who made sure we went to Sunday School, read the Bible and went to church every Sunday. Every night we read Bible stories before we went to bed. My mother also made sure we stayed involved in the church and the things of God. My relationship with Christ came about through that and the influences of my mother and grandmother helped my faith to grow.

And what Hunter wants others to learn from his example:

I want them to know that I try to walk like Christ in my life. If I strike out, I don’t curse, or throw my bat or hit things back in the dugout, I try to quietly just put my helmet back. I may be very upset but I try to control myself. Whether I’m down or whether things are great, I try to stay the same person all the time. I want my teammates to see that I’m following Christ. But, I’m also human, so there are times I slip and make mistakes but I know Christ forgives me.

Hmmmmm, it certainly appears — talking to you, ESPN — that Hunter is "one of the good guys" for a reason.

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