ho was your first sports hero? For me, early days at Kauffman Stadium were rich with applicants. Freddie Patek. Frank White. Amos Otis. George Brett. But I hitched onto a star by the name of Big John Mayberry. Mayberry played first base, as did I. Mayberry was a bit “husky,” as my mom would call it, as was I. Big John was a loud personality, as was I – as anyone who sat next to me and my father during a late 1970’s game could tell you.
Mayberry was but the first. Sure, there was Brett and White. How could you not call them heroes? I remember talking my dad into buying a ticket to see Brett’s last game at Royals Stadium. The game he kissed home plate. A memory I’ll never forget. Still, though, those were memories. Fleeting flashes from heroes. For me it never quite sank in until they were gone.
Brett and White were well into their careers before their first World Series in 1980 and nearing the end by 1985. Only the seasoned Kansas Citians remember a championship with the Chiefs. But I could easily call Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith heroes of mine during the Martyball years. Still – Thomas’s career was cut short and Smith was traded to be forever tarnished by the Broncos. You saw fleeting glimpses in 2014 and 2015, but blink and Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain were all gone.
It never hit me while they were here. This is greatness. This is something you’ll tell your kids about.
You know where this is going. Kansas City realizes it. They realize that Patrick Mahomes is a one in a trillion talent who’s star may not be anywhere close to its brightest. The difference is that we all realize that we’re seeing greatness in real time. We all recognize the heroics of Pat Mahomes.
This goes beyond George Brett and Derrick Thomas. This goes beyond Eric Hosmer and even Len Dawson. This is reserved for Tom Brady, Jim Brown, Kobe Bryant status. The hype always overshadows the man. Not this time. Not with number 15. Down 10? Down 20? Need a 50 yard bomb? Need a two yard run? Need to see something you’ve never seen before? Patrick Mahomes, man.
I judge sports heroes by how early I purchase a jersey or a piece of memorabilia. My attic is full of Brett signatures and baseballs. I had a Derrick Thomas picture signed. I even got an autograph from Buck O’Neill. But they were already out of the game. I bought my Mahomes jersey at the end of last season. You just knew. And now you know.
And here’s the thing – this won’t be the end of it. With the 2015 Royals you sensed that this would be no dynasty. This was shooting the moon once. With the 1985 Royals, you could get an idea that maybe the teams from 80-85 could put it together a few more times, but strikes and unrest in the game whacked that.
There is nothing but open highway as we complete year two of Mahomes’s career. It won’t be his last ring. It won’t be his last MVP. It won’t be his last feat of greatness. I guess what I’m saying is – Mahomes is the real deal and I call him my greatest sports hero simply because the sky is the limit.
(Make Chris Kamler your hero on Twitter, where you can find him as @TheFakeNed)