Author Archive for Ed Lucas

Remembering Yogi Berra

image The Pope’s recent visit to the United States had me thinking about one of my favorite Papal anecdotes, which involves a dear friend who just passed away.

Yogi Berra took a trip to Rome in the early 1960s. As a devout Catholic and daily communicant who never missed the weekly Sunday Mass held just outside the Yankee clubhouse, Yogi was thrilled to receive an invitation to tour the Vatican, which included an audience with Pope John XXIII. When the time came to meet the Holy Father, an aide introduced Yogi as “Lawrence Berra, American baseball player.” Yogi stuck out his hand and innocently exclaimed “Hiya, Pope!” Everyone gasped. The Pontiff grinned and embraced Yogi, whose charm put everyone, from world leaders to the common man, at ease.

The tributes that came in from every corner of the world when the news of his death at age 90 was announced on Wednesday is proof positive of just how beloved Yogi was.

I feel blessed to have been able to call him my friend.

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The wisdom of Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra is one of my dearest friends. He’s also an amazing human being.

The American icon and Hall of Famer is known just as much for his baseball skills as he is for his unique takes and observations on things. There have been whole books written with Yogi Berra quotes. According to Mr. Berra: “I didn’t say half the things I’ve said!”

Here is one of my favorite quotes. Think of this the next time you order a pizza pie.

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Does home plate look like a dinner plate?

imageHave you ever considered what it would be like to live a life in total darkness? Imagine that you were born without the ability to see. Things around you would seem totally different. Your sensory perception and how you’ve come to identify your world would be completely changed.

Take the color spectrum, for example.

From early childhood on, sighted people are able to distinguish the primary colors of red, yellow and blue. It’s second nature. For those who cannot see, however, they have no concept of this. It’s impossible to put into words what green or purple, orange or any other shades look like. Try doing it, you can’t. It would be like trying to describe the flavor of salt without saying “salty.”

I wasn’t actually born blind. I could see until I was 12, then I was hit by a baseball between the eyes, which robbed me of my sight.

Luckily, I still have a concept of how the world of a sighted person appears, so I can understand when people use phrases and descriptions that rely on a working knowledge of what thinimagegs look like.

Sometimes it doesn’ t work.

When I interviewed basketball Hall of Famer Walt Frazier a few years ago, the two time NBA champion turned the tables on me, asking why I mostly stuck to reporting on baseball and didn’t cover basketball that much.

I explained to Clyde that I grew up as a baseball fan and that I know the game inside and out, but I didn’t watch many other sports when I was young and could still see.

This limited me, because I can’t create a mental picture of action on a court as easily as I can on a diamond. That makes it tougher to relate to players and fans from those sports.

Baseball is much easier for me.

I was once hosting my radio show when a young blind girl called in asking if home plate looked like the dinner plates that we eat from, or if it was a different shape.

It was a genuine, heartfelt question from someone who was blind like me, yet who didn’t enjoy the same advantage of having sight for a few years, as I did.

That’s when I realized that I am truly blessed to be able to do what I do for a living and to have had my dreams come true.

I don’t not envy those who have more, or look down on those who have less, I’m just grateful to God to be where I am.

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Sage advice from Hellen Keller

Helen Keller has always been an inspiration to me.

Shortly after the International Lions Club was formed in Chicago in the 1920s, she appeared before them to urge Lions to become “Knights of the Blind.” As a proud Lion for over forty years, I have first hand experience in their devotion to helping those, like me, who live in a world of darkness.

One of the reasons I created “Seeing Home” was to honor and repay all of those who reached out to lift me up, by helping others who are in a similar place that I was.

That’s why this quote from Ms. Keller rings true, even today.

I hope you find it just as inspiring.

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Favorite Irish-American Sports Stars

imageHappy Saint Patrick’s Day!

As the descendant of immigrants from the Emerald Isle, this is a day that always fills me with pride.

35.5 million Americans (almost 12 percent of the U.S. population) claim some share of Irish heritage, so you’ll see green no matter where you go today.

Even when watching sports, the influence of the Irish in America is apparent. From the “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame to the Boston Celtics, the love of sports has been passed down through generations of Irish-Americans, some of whom have distinguished themselves on the playing field.

Here are ten of my favorites…

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Ed Lucas On Friday the 13th, Triskaidekaphobia, and athlete’s superstitions

imageAthletes are some of the most superstitious people on the planet.

Take, for instance, the number 13.

Triskaidekaphobia – the fear of anything associated with the number 13 – is prevalent in society. Many tall buidings choose to skip floor 13 and go right from 12 to 14. Friday the 13th has become a day that is noted and highlighted in social media posts, though it’s usually just another uneventful day on the calendar.

In sports, players try to avoid being issued the dreaded number. That seems silly, given the success that many of their peers and predecessors have had with it.

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Earl Weaver on Optimism

Former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who died in 2013, was one of the nicest guys I ever knew. His public image was that of a tempermental curmudgeon, but he was a softie at heart.

One thing we definitely shared was an optimistic spirit towards life. Earl never gave up, even when his teams seemed to be impossibly behind. He encouraged others to persevere. Weaver was not only a baseball Hall of Famer, but one of life’s hall of famers as well.

The last time I saw Earl was at a 2009 dinner in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which was held in the gallery. Earl suggested posing in front of the plaque of Larry Doby, another guy with a zest for life. I’m happy that we got the chance.

Baseball was lucky to have a passionate guy like The Earl of Baltimore. We need more of his type of manager around. Thanks Earl.

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Jean Norris – the woman who opened the door for blind readers everywhere

Today is Read Across America day, instituted by the NEA in honor of Doctor Seuss (Theodore Geisel) whose birthday fell on this date.

Schools, clubs, libraries and parents everywhere are encouraged to spend extra time today reading with their children, with the hope that it will spark a love of literature that will last a lifetime in them.

Jean Norris of Twin Vision for the Blind

I love to read. It’s what helped to make me a better writer and broadcaster. The more you read, the larger your vocabulary becomes, and the better grasp you have on language and grammar.

One of the things that was frustrating to me when I was younger was the lack of books, newspapers and magazines available in Braille for me to read. This absence became even more pronounced when my sons, Eddie and Chris, were born. Like any parent, I wanted to read children’s stories to them at bed time, but couldn’t. I felt terrible having to say no to them. It broke my heart.

The solution arrived in a most unexpected way when the Good Lord inspired a wonderful woman, Jean Norris, from southern California on to help those facing my predicament.

She quickly became my hero, she still is.

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Oscar Winners Who Have Portrayed Baseball Players On Screen

The two great past-times of American summers, baseball and the movies, sometimes come together in thrilling ways.

Ballparks have been the setting for some of Hollywood’s best loved sports films.

Baseball is such an integral part of growing up in the United States, that many actors have a natural feel and look when it comes to taking on the role of a ballplayer, even if they’ve never actually spent time on a diamond.

In fact, some of our most talented actors have been captured on screen as they roamed the infield, outfield, bullpen or dugout.

Here, in chronological order of the films as they debuted, are several Oscar winners who have portrayed baseball players on screen:

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Why Horace Stoneham belongs in the Hall of Fame

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Horace Stoneham

In my book, Seeing Home, I mention the late Yankee owner George M. Steinbrenner, who was a wonderful person. I call him one of life’s hall of famers, a guy who quietly and consistently helped those in need.

Unfortunately, for reasons I’ll describe below, he isn’t yet a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

It reminded me of another should be Baseball Hall of Fame owner that is mentioned in Seeing Home, Horace Stoneham of the New York Giants.

While he was never the household name that Steinbrenner was, Stoneham had just as big an impact on New York baseball. It was his last move in New York, however, that might be the thing that’s unfairly keeping him out of the Hall.

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