When hearing yesterday about the death of Nelson Mandela I immediately though about “Invictus”, the movie made a few years ago about the 1995 Rugby World Cup which was hosted and won by South Africa just a year after Mandela was elected its first black president.

A woman pays tribute to Nelson Mandela outside the South African embassy near Trafalgar Square in London.(Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

It is an inspiring film starring Morgan Freeman and gives you a sense of what a remarkable person he was.  Most impressive about Mandela was his ability to forgive. After all this was a man who spent 27 years in prison for fighting the horrors of apartheid.

When finally freed he could have easily sought revenge against those who took away such a large part of his life but instead he used compassion to unite a nation.   The scene in the movie that that resonates most with me is when he appears on the field in that 1995 Rugby World Cup Final and is cheered wildly by a crowd of 65,000 mostly-white fans which was inconceivable at that time. In true life Mandela would say on several occasions that sports had the unique ability to bring people together yet it was he who brought an entire nation together.

It may be a bit early to think about the next baseball season but fans of the Philadelphia Phillies and Lakewood BlueClaws might want to circle Wednesday, January 22nd on their calendar.   That’s the night the Phillies bring their annual Winter Tour to Lakewood’s Woodlake Country Club for a dinner featuring manager and Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sanderberg.

Also appearing will be Phillies pitcher Jonathan Pettibone and outfielder Darin Ruf, who were BlueClaws teammates during the 2010 season.  For tickets you can call the BlueClaws at (732) 901-7000.

You may have heard the announcements we are airing for the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group which was formed after Superstorm Sandy to streamline coordination efforts and help those impacted by the storm.  They have joined forces with the Monmouth County Long Term Recovery Group and partnered with Diane Turton, Realtors on a Toy Drive for Sandy Survivors.

Now through December 11th you are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys and games to children of all ages to any of the 16 Turton offices in Ocean and Monmouth County as they will be distributed to those impacted by Sandy.  For more information visit oceancountyltrg.org