Don Demeter – Mountain of a Man

Don Demeter

The mighty Old Testament prophet Ezekiel thundered, in the depths of Israel’s fall from grace: “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”

Sadly, Ezekiel did not live in the time of Don Demeter. In an age of great knowledge, little understanding, and scarce wisdom, modern Oklahoma has not had that problem. At least one good, gentle, quietly great, giant of a man fought the good fight, finished the race just after Thanksgiving, and kept the faith.

He was a mountain of a man whose preaching voice sounded chiseled from Western canyons, whose loping gait made the great major league home run base paths he devoured seem small, and whose bearlike handshake gifted warmth and belief in you, and he empowered the wounded, the unlovely, and the overlooked to feel and walk as kings and queens of the world, and to follow the King Himself.

How unlikely a tale to have begun the way it did. But isn’t that just the sort that God glories in authoring?

Los Angeles Dodger Don Demeter smashing a home run with his first swing from the plate in the major leagues.

Don Demeter began life in the depths of Dust Bowl and Great Depression-wracked Oklahoma, in a broken, poverty-stricken southside OKC home near the smelly old Stockyards “Packin’ Town.” He was a lanky, broad-shouldered boy who could run like the wind. As Demeter bounced from home to home, around the country, God pieced together a life and a vision for him through a devout grandmother who taught and demonstrated the gospel to him and daily prayed for him. A foster father, meanwhile, gave the youth a vision of Christian manhood and servant leadership of a loving family.

At 11 years of age, Demeter trusted in Christ at Exchange Avenue Baptist Church and was spiritually saved. Having found Someone who would never leave him, the verse he clung to from that day until the end of his life was Hebrews 13:5, in which Jesus promised His followers: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

He attended a Capitol Hill High School teeming with tough, poor kids who won state championships in everything, became college All-Americans, gained fame as professional athletes and hall-of-famers, and brought home Olympic gold. A friendly, good-natured kid, he was the only Redskin starter who did not make the All City based team. So revered was he by his teammates, though, that when the Brooklyn Dodgers offered pro contracts to two of them, they refused to accept them unless Demeter was given one, too.</