HALO - Encountering the Halo Effect
Drew Washington grew up on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan [Motor City, Detroit Rock City] in a poor neighbourhood. As a young black man, he decided the only way up out of poverty was to gain a sports scholarship. He was a natural athlete but his love was for the national pastime, Baseball. His pitching was mediocre, his fielding was outstanding but he excelled with the Bat. As he reached the end of high school plenty of scouts came to his games. He accepted a scholarship to Detroit University Mercy and drew more attention playing for the Titans. Near graduation he had many offers but his choice was to play for the Detroit Tigers.
They helped get him a nice place for his Mama and his younger siblings to live, away from the cesspool that they had lived in for so long.
He was aware of his social responsibilities and did his best to be a role model for younger African-Americans. He was amiable, friendly and generous to his fans. This caught the attention of many sponsors who wished him to be associated with their brands. At Drew’s request, all of the contracts accepted had ethics clauses that would cease any sponsorship if Drew were to bring the sport [and sponsors] into bad repute.
The Tigers’ fortunes improved once Drew joined their major League team, he was an exceptional player, of the sport he truly loved, and an inspirational teammate, always doing his best to raise his team’s morale and gameplay. He won over his critics in the team, management and fans through hard work, perseverance and ultimately his incredible performance on the field.
In his second year as a Tiger they made their way through to the playoffs of the American League as the winner of their division. The icing on the cake for Drew was being voted by the fans to play in the All-Star game between the American League and the National League. The American League won the match and the All-Star team gave the home ground Advantage to the American League for the World Series.
Ranked #2 in the American League [from their win-loss record] they clinched their place in the World Series, winning 3 of their 4 games in the Divisional Series [best of 5] and 4 consecutive wins in the Championship Series [best of 7].
They finally got to the World Series to play against the Chicago Cubs. Both teams won 3 of the best of 7 series. During this time, the stress, anxiety and pressure caused Drew to have sleepless nights but they didn’t take their toll on his performance. He was energised (or so he thought) at playing at the highest level of the game he loved with every fibre of his being.
It was the day of the last game of the World Series, teams were tied, bottom of the ninth innings, Drew went out to bat, he was the last batter for the game.
He moved to the plate and took his position. His bat felt so light in his hand. He looked towards the Pitcher’s mound. The pitcher wound up and threw. Drew watched the ball move in slow motion towards him. There was a buzzing in his ears, he blinked rapidly. , his skin tingled , he felt the flow of … something … from him to the bat. It felt alive, part of him. Time slowed to a crawl as energy pulsed from Drew to flow around the bat.
The bat exploded in a shower of light as the ball went flying over the outfield, fast and high.
Drew dropped the remains of the bat to the floor, his vision blurry, the crowds noise overwhelming his hearing. He heard the fans and his team screaming at him to run for home but he reached down for the remains of his bat. He knew his career was over. He walked back towards the dugout. He wouldn’t make a home run when he was no longer playing at the other players’ level. It wouldn’t be right.
The crowd, the sports casters, the players, the home viewers, Drew, were all stunned by what had just occurred on live television.
Drew and the Detroit Tigers parted ways amicably. No contract had been designed for a Halo player. Many of his sponsors let him go. Drew did not blame them. He was polite and accommodating with their lawyers.
He still felt stunned by it all. The world felt washed out. People felt distant to him. His family did their best to console him and bring him back from his funk but his heart was broken
He wandered Detroit aimlessly, shunned by Tigers fans who felt betrayed by him not taking that home run, of winning them the World Series, or because he was an Angel and was unpredictable.
He finally stopped in downtown Detroit at a bench opposite Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. He sat and stared at his second home, despondent, listless. He registered someone else sitting next to him on the bench, “Hello Drew, I thought you might need some help”, said the gentleman next to him.
Drew looked over at the man. He was dressed as a padre. “You’re not the only unfortunate out there, Drew. The difference is that you have the ability to improve your situation. To play at your level required discipline, strength of character, trust in your team. Your old game is over but you have the ability to play in a whole new league. You could be a role model for so many, an inspiration for all those who follow. You were an All-Star Baseball Major Leaguer. You could become a legend.”
Drew was drawn out of his funk. This man was earnest, he seemed to be speaking to Drew’s soul. He was a man of the cloth. Drew was a good Baptist boy, this man spoke on behalf of god, Drew should listen. “You have my interest, Padre, keep talking.”
The Padre, Brian Banks, and Drew spent the whole afternoon talking. Drew listened while Brian spoke about his “gift”, about learning what he could do, helping others, being a role model for minorities again, including the Angels. Drew likes what he heard.
Over the next few weeks, Drew was tutored by Brian in drawing out his “halo”, learning what he could do, how to do it safely. When Brian was sure that Drew was ready, he wished him luck and headed off for his next destination.
Drew approached his sponsors with the idea of being a public face for the Angels, to go out and be seen doing good in the community, to be an inspiration for all those who wanted a second chance.
Contracts were drawn up, once more with an ethics clause, and Drew moved to New York to get maximum visibility. It also didn’t hurt to leave the memories of his failure behind him. Many Tigers fans were also happy to see him go. His momma and family were set to follow once the school year was over. Not that all of his siblings were happy with him or happy to leave their home town.
Drew used some of his wealth to purchase a sports bar, “The Outfield”, and set up an office next door that was to be a meeting place for people that had lost their way and needed some help.
You never know, he might get to swing his bat again.