Full Count is thrilled to share this guest post for Day 47 by Jenna Shaw.
Today is 47 days, which is five days and six weeks of the omer: hod she’b’malchut.
On August 4, 2008, the Chicago Cubs designated left–handed relief pitcher Scott Eyre for assignment to make room for Kerry Wood on the roster who was returning from the Disabled List. I think I was one of three people in the city of Chicago who was heartbroken at this decision. Over his career, Scott Eyre boasted a win–loss record of 28-30, an ERA of 4.23, and 537 career strikeouts. He started his career with the Chicago White Sox in 1997, then was traded to the Blue Jays, later to the Giants in 2002, to the Cubs in 2006, and then in 2008, to the Phillies, where he played a crucial role in helping them win the World Series. Yet what makes Scott Eyre so special isn’t the fact that he’s often referred to as the “glue” that held the Phillies together and can’t be understood through stats. It is that he is the living embodiment of Hod of Malchut (humility of sovereignty). This combination of Hod AND Malchut is difficult to find in baseball players.
I grew up a mile away from Wrigley Field. One of my favorite past times was to stand outside of Wrigley, waiting for the players to come in and asking for their autograph. Waiting outside of Wrigley Field taught me one of the most important lessons of my life—that of power and of responsibility. I learned the stories of people around me—people like Ernie, a man who received disability benefits as a result of his diabetes, and who relied on the autographs not as a pastime, but for his livelihood. And I would watch time and time again, as players would get out of their taxis and rush through the sea of fans, pretending that we didn’t even exist. Some would even pretend to talk on the phone as an excuse to ignore the people around them. The power differential was stark. On one end, there were baseball players who were making millions of dollars and on the other hand, were those who relied on selling autographs to put food on their table.
It is really easy for baseball players to get into the mindset that they are better than everyone else and to view themselves as kings. So it is notable when a player breaks from the mold and not only acknowledges fans, but appreciates them as people. Scott Eyre is one of these players, humble enough to thank people when they ask for his autograph.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the beneficiaries of Scott Eyre’s open heart and unfathomable humility. Through a series of events, Scott Eyre and I met as part of my mitzvah project for my Bat Mitzvah. In our meeting, he kept emphasizing that I should “be me” and embrace myself. He wanted to know my story and was shocked that I admired him. That was the first of many meetings that resulted in what I would call a slight friendship between Scott Eyre and myself. Every time I would go to a game, I would rush down to the dugout wearing my Scott Eyre jersey, and he would enthusiastically come over to catch up. I’ll never know what, if anything, these interactions meant to him, but to me, they meant the world. He didn’t care that I was a 12 year old kid and that he was a professional athlete.
As we are nearing the end of the Omer and toward receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, I can’t help but hold the Torah of Scott Eyre—to embrace all of yourself in such a deep sense of love and humor that it invites other people to do the same.
Jenna Shaw is a rising 3rd-year Rabbinical Student at Hebrew College. They were lucky enough to grow up hearing the cheers of Cubs’ fans through the windows of their shul and firmly believe that it is the holiest sound on earth!