I've got a few mementoes on my office shelves—family photos, a piece of hand-made pottery I bought on a missions trip to Spain, a personalized mug from my alma mater, the University of Virginia.

And a tennis ball.

But it's no ordinary tennis ball. It's signed by the guy who was my Sports Hero during my teen years—Sweden's Bjorn Borg, one of the greatest ever to play the game.

I was really into tennis when Borg was dominating the game. In 1976, while I was playing tournaments all over southeastern Virginia, Borg was playing all over the world, and winning just about everything—including the first of five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles, still a record. Borg won 61 tournaments before he stunned the world by retiring in 1982. He was just 26.

Borg was the type of sports hero I not only admired, but tried to emulate. He hit huge, looping topspin groundstrokes; so did I. He used a two-handed backhand; so did I. He was never terribly comfortable at the net; neither was I.

And Borg, ever the gentleman, never lost his temper or threw his racket; and neither … OK, OK. The comparisons stop there; I've got the broken rackets to prove it.

I not only wanted to play like Bjorn Borg. I wanted to be Bjorn Borg. I wanted to fall to my knees, victorious, on the worn grass of Wimbledon's Centre Court, just like Borg always did after winning the final point. I framed the "Bjorn Again" cover of Sports Illustrated, and imagined myself in his shoes, in that photo: "Moring Again!"

So imagine my surprise and disappointment when I read a recent story that Borg plans to auction off his five Wimbledon trophies and two rackets to achieve "financial security," according to a statement from Borg, who has been beleaguered by several failed ...

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Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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