- Words from the song "You Gotta Have Heart" from the Broadway play,
"Damn Yankees," 1955
Yesterday as I was researching for my book I happened to come upon this song from the 1950's and it brought back some vivid memories. Back in those days as a boy I had my first experience with major league baseball, watching the New York Yankees play in Washington on several occasions. No matter how hard they tried, the Senators always came up short with the Yankees and you could tell, looking around the stadium, that most in attendance wanted a miracle. A couple of years later, "Damn Yankees," after a great stand on Broadway, was developed into a motion picture starring Tab Hunter as Joe Hardy, a slugger who is the replacement in the flesh for Joe Boyd, an aging Senators fan who sells his soul if only the Senators beat the Yankees and win the pennant. Mr. Applegate, the human form the Devil takes, played by Ray Walston, makes the deal and the Senators' remarkable season is underway. When Boyd has regrets and misses his wife, Applegate sends in his closer, the temptress, Lola Banana, played by Gwen Verdon, but even she can't succeed. In the end, the Senators are in the final moments of the final game for the pennant with Boyd in the person of Hardy at bat as the deadline for his opting out of being Hardy approaches. At the last moment, he yells, "I want out" and Walston, the Devil,cancels the deal. Applegate's devilish power creates two strikes, but then Hardy knocks one out of the park before Joe Boyd comes back as he was. Even the Devil's powers can't overcome the love Boyd has in his heart. It's a story about heart, soul and how having strength to fight adversity in whatever format necessary to achieve a desired and worthy goal.
Now in real life, God doesn't usually pick winner and losers in a baseball game. But the story does offer some good insight about "heart," for you see, even as a baseball hero, the older Joe Boyd realized before it was too late for him to be Joe Hardy without the wife that he loved. He realized that a real and loving life was preferable to the glitz and glamour that the Devil offered him. And, more importantly, he realized before it was too late that an Eternity with the Devil was no Eternity at all, it was total destruction of the man that he was. Joe Boyd opened his heart and let the SON shine in via the Holy Spirit, at least that's my opinion even though the movie line doesn't say that specifically. God can, indeed, work in mysterious ways for each of us as well. Sometimes a good story brought to light with a good an faith-based moral foundation, be it on the stage or on screen, can show us the folly of our ways and help us get on the right track again. Thank you, Lord, for the many ways you have of reminding us that only with a commitment to you can we find true peace, happiness and eternity.