I grew up idolizing Don Mattingly, the power-hitting, left-handed New York Yankees first baseman from Evansville, Indiana, just 20 miles from my home town. But as I watched a career cut short by injuries, marked by missing championships and, later, a troubled marriage, his baseball life took on an aura of sadness.
In 2008, I wrote about that career, and what happens when we grow older and begin to see our heroes as flawed humans like the rest of us. The piece was originally published in Elysian Fields Quarterly, a now-defunct, baseball literary journal, and I posted it on this site for a while too. In the summer of 2015 I re-posted it on Medium to see what would happen, and the editors of The Cauldron noticed and ran it in their publication, which at the time was part of Sports Illustrated. It’s the most widely-read piece I’ve ever written outside of work, and one of my favorites.