May2ThuMay 2, 2013
Compiled by Don Liesemer through interviews with Tom Fraser, Butch Kaebel and Charles Strange
HMI’s Detroit Red Wing and Toledo Walleyes’ Chaplain, Tom Fraser describes Chuck the Heckler: “He was probably the worst of the worst, hockey fan in the old Toledo Goaldiggers’ days when action in the stands was sometimes more dramatic than players’ fighting on the ice. Charlie would come to games drunk and high on drugs; sometimes wearing a referee's sweater; complete with a bright orange armband. He would pound the glass, curse loudly at the refs and opposing players and throw objects on the ice. After games, he would continue his tirades with refs and players as they entered and left their dressings rooms. He would even travel to away games and taunt opposing fans”.
Chuck’s take: “I was from Kentucky and loved to get high on drugs and alcohol and go to the games and raise h___. I was the long-haired guy that hung on the glass and taunted the opposing players. In the providence of God, the Kaebel brothers were playing for rival Peoria in the IHL…I went after them screaming and hollering because they were brothers.
Butch Kaebel recalls: “The fans were rowdy, in the tightly packed minor league arena and Chuck and his group were unbelievably hostile. They cursed loudly”.
But God was pursuing this renegade fan and used one of Chuck’s most abused targets to shake him up: “One night, as I was hurling my usual barrage of abuse on the Kaebel brothers, Butch skated over to the glass and hollered: ‘Jesus Christ loves you and I love you. Have a good night’. My buddies heard and urged me to respond and scream something back at him, but I had nothing to say... Nothing... I was floored; caught completely off guard. I sat down tongue-tied. For the first time this lunatic, screaming, out- of- control fan was dumbfounded. And Butch, well, He just kept skating by and smiling.”
God got Charlie's attention and was about to change his life. Toledo team chaplain Tom Fraser explains: “My son, David and I, had befriended Charlie at the games. David had invited Charlie to church many times and he finally showed up and God got hold of him. One day during a counseling session with him and his wife… Charlie turned his life over to Jesus; was baptized; is a member of a local church; is involved in outreach at a local mission, and has started his own business.”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Chuck the Heckler concludes: “How odd that Charles Strange, a country boy from Kentucky would come to Christ through a hockey player and chaplain involved in a game about which I knew nothing”. It’s a story with a strange twist. And the response of hockey player, Butch Kaebel, well, it was not unlike that of his Lord.
“Those who passed by hurled insults at him…in the same way the chief priests and teachers of the law mocked him (Mark 15:29,31)…in the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him” (Matt. 27:44)…”Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”…Jesus (Luke 23:34)comments powered by Disqus