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Intersection of Life and Faith

Illustration: The Positive Power of Influence

  • J. Michael Shannon Dean, Russell School of Ministry, and professor of preaching at Cincinnati Christian University in Ohio.
  • 2013 12 Jun
Illustration: The Positive Power of Influence
The late Pat Summerall had a fine career as a football player, but became a household name as a football broadcaster. Few knew of his behind-the-scenes battle with alcohol, and fewer knew of his influence on another sports legend, Mickey Mantle. There were several connections between Summerall and Mantle. Summerall used the same locker during football season that Mantle used during baseball season. They had played some minor league baseball together and had golfed together several times.

Something else they had in common was their troubles with alcohol. Summerall went into the Betty Ford Center in the 1990s. While there, Summerall committed himself fully to Jesus Christ and was baptized. Mickey Mantle later inquired about going to the Betty Ford Center himself, and Summerall encouraged him to do so.

In the last days of Mantle's life, Summerall opened his Dallas home to him, and ministered to him physically and spiritually. In 1995, both Summerall and former teammate, Bobby Richardson reached out to Mantle while he was seriously ill. Both were happy that he had renewed his interest in Jesus Christ, and both attended his funeral. Richardson gave the eulogy.