Tag Archives: Jim Murray

My annual tribute to Jim Murray, the best sportswriter who ever lived. And a fabulous “old guy” basketball move schools a youngster

Thursday is August 16th, which always means three things in my life: 1, it’s my father’s birthday (Happy 75th, young man!). 2, My birthday is only a day away (whoo-hoo, I’ve made it to 43! Depressing old man thought of the week: I figured out the other day that I’m now only two years younger than my Dad was at my bar mitzvah. Good God…).

And 3, August 16th means it’s time for my annual tribute to the late, great Jim Murray, only the greatest sportswriter who ever lived. Murray died on Aug. 16, 1998, so my own little tribute to him is to educate readers who aren’t as familiar with his greatness.

Murray was an incredible journalist, columnist, and hell of a fun guy. He partied with Bogie and Brando, knew everyone in L.A. and Hollywood worth knowing, and had the best one-liners of any writer, ever.

Just a few of my favorites:
“Elgin Baylor is as unstoppable as a woman’s tears.”
“Rickey Henderson’s strike zone is smaller than Hitler’s heart.”
On the city of Cincinnati:  “They still haven’t fixed the freeway. It’s Kentucky’s turn to use the cement mixer.”

Murray was the greatest, and his legacy is being kept alive by his late wife Linda Murray Hofmans, a terrific woman who (full disclosure: I’ve emailed with her many times and she’s all sorts of fantastic) has set up a foundation with scholarships in his honor. Johnette Howard of The Athletic wrote this terrific piece on Linda’s struggle to keep her husband’s memory alive

But as always at this time of year, here’s some Jim Murray, to give you some beauty on a Wednesday…

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snow-capped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time.

I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

Read some Jim Murray today. It’ll make you feel better about humanity, and the written word. Man, I miss him.

**Finally today, as I get older I of course appreciate it when older folks school younger people. When it’s on the basketball court, where wisdom and experience sometimes do trump youth and athleticism, it’s even better.

Check out this viral clip and a brilliant one-on-one move from a man named Leroy (Papa Lee) Martens, who’s shot a few thousand free throws, against a kid named Andrew Menard, who wasn’t alive during Monica Lewinsky’s heyday. Superb, veteran fella. Superb.

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Fallon on Charlottesville is his best moment as “Tonight Show” host. The tennis player who serves both lefty and righty. And remembering the great Jim Murray, as always, on Aug. 16

There was, as always, so much going on in the news on Tuesday. I don’t want to spend 1,000 words venting about our President’s remarkable ability to continually compound his own mistakes and make them worse. So I won’t. Instead, a few words about Jimmy Fallon, who took a lot of criticism for having Donald Trump on his show last year and basically “normalizing” him, giving him the softest of softball questions and goofing around with Trump like he was some reality TV star (oh wait, he was.)

I think Fallon deserved a little bit of the scorn but he got piled on quite a bit. He’s always struck me as an earnest, decent guy who does want to please everybody. Monday night he took to the airwaves at the start of “The Tonight Show” and gave this heartfelt opening. Very well done.

**Next up today, it’s mid-August which means you’re probably going to be reading way more tennis posts on here than usual because, well, the U.S. Open starts in a week and I’m going to be covering it every day and it consumes my life for three weeks.

Anyway, in a tennis mood today once I saw this, which I’ve never seen before. A Korean player named Kim Cheong-eui is on the minor-league Challenger circuit, and he does something I’ve never seen a pro do. He serves righthanded serves in the deuce court, and then left-handed serves into the ad court. He also hits forehands with both hands, on both sides.

This is incredible that he’s able to do this, and do it well. Check it out…

**And finally today, August 16 always makes me thing of a few things: One, it’s my Dad’s birthday (Happy birthday, Pops!) Two, my birthday is tomorrow (turning 42 and not too thrilled about it, but being associated with Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera for a year, I guess isn’t too bad) and three, I think of Jim Murray.

Every year on this blog on or around Aug. 16 I write about Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived, who sadly left this Earth way too soon, in 1998. I love running excerpts of his columns because they remind me of how brilliant he was, how beautiful his writing was, and how much of a heart this man had.

As always, here’s some Jim Murray, to give you some beauty on a Wednesday…

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snow-capped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

God, I miss that guy.

A visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum is a powerful experience. John Oliver hilariously starts own church. And my annual tribute to the late great Jim Murray

911Museum.Faces

In New York City, the reminders of 9/11 are never too far from your mind. The new Freedom Tower is hard to miss, and going into Lower Manhattan for any reason always makes me think of what happened there now almost 14 years ago.

Sunday, with my best friend in town from Georgia, we decided to visit the brand-new 9/11 Memorial Museum. I knew it would be painful, but I also knew it was another necessary step to remember that day.

The place is, in a word, powerful. And dazzling. And beautifully specific. And emotional (OK, it took me more than one word to describe it.) We spent about four hours there and saw almost everything, but easily could’ve spent more time.
There are artifacts of that awful day, of course; a piece of the wall of one of the towers that fell; a fire truck that was used by one of the ladder companies racing to rescue the thousands trapped inside the World Trade Center.

There was also an enormous room called a “historical exhibition” of 9/11/01, that takes you through the leadup/history of 9/11, a minute by minute account with witness audio and video, including some chilling voicemail recordings left by those who didn’t survive, and a thorough examination of the aftermath and the War on Terror that George W. Bush led us into.

What struck me the most, though, was the room full of faces. Nearly 3,000 people died that day, and the Museum was able to find pictures of just about all of them. You walk through the room and see the photos piled high, one on top of each other, and it just takes your breath away.

I could say lots more about the museum, about why it took so long to open, and about how all the memories of that day came flooding back just a few minutes into our visit.

But I’ll just say this: If you’re in New York, it’s an amazing place to see. And as an American, I think it’s a very, very important one.

**Next up, I haven’t blogged about John Oliver in a while, but his show continues to be the best thing on TV this summer. This clip, from Sunday’s show, is about the continued skullduggery of TV preachers, and how they basically steal money from people.

Watch Oliver’s “investigation” and marvel at how easy it is to set up your own church. The clip is long but hilarious all the way through (And just for fun, call the number at the end, we did and it was great.)

JimMurraytribute

**Finally today, I’m a few days late with this but I still feel it’s important. Every year on or about August 16, the anniversary of his death, I salute in this space the work of the legendary Jim Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived. I still read his old columns sometime, for inspiration, or for a laugh, and the all-time best email I got as a result of writing Wide World of Stuff was from his widow thanking me for remembering him.

And so once again, on the 17th anniversary of his passing (is it possible it’s been that long?), a little bit of Murray greatness.

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snowcapped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

God, I miss that guy.

My annual tribute to the great Jim Murray, the best sportswriter who ever lived. Two very different-sized dogs happily play together. And the Royals are in first place (finally!)

JimMurrayESPN

And a Happy Friday to you all! I’m happy for many reasons today, one being that both my first child and the U.S. Open tennis tournament will be arriving in the next few weeks (if the baby can hold off being born until after the U.S. Open, that’d be cool. Relax, I’m (mostly) kidding), that I’ve survived another year of life (I turn 39 on Sunday, and I’m already dreading the big Four-Oh), and that it’s time to celebrate Jim Murray again.

Every year on or about August 16, the anniversary of his death, I salute in this space the work of the legendary Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived. I still read his old columns sometime, for inspiration, or for a laugh, and the all-time best email I got as a result of writing Wide World of Stuff was from his widow thanking me for remembering him.

And so once again, on the 16th anniversary of his passing, a little bit of Murray greatness. The man who once wrote “Rickey Henderson’s strike zone is smaller than Hitler’s heart,” and “Elgin Baylor is as unstoppable as a woman’s tears” was truly a legend. So many hundreds of sportswriters (me included) tried to copy his style over the years, but it was like trying to sing like Sinatra, or paint like Picasso.

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snowcapped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

**Next up, this cracked me up: A tiny dog and a giant dog spend about a minute scrapping lovingly, before finally giving up and embracing. Too funny. Little dogs always think they’re so tough.

RoyalsAthletics JFS 8-14-14 0924

**And finally, the Kansas City Royals, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since “Back to The Future” was in movie theaters (1985), are in first place on Aug. 15. And I am really happy about that, because maybe it’s the Jets fan in me, but I’ve always had a soft spot for fans who’ve suffered mightily.
The Royals play in a small market for an owner who won’t spend money, and have been miserably awful for most of the past 30 years. I root for franchises like that because I know their fans have endured so much, that it’s so extra-special when the team starts to win.
And these Royals are legit good. They get great pitching, just enough hitting, and those powder-blue uniforms sure do look swell.

I really am pulling for them to make the playoffs; the baseball postseason is so much more fun when new teams make it. Just listen to fan named Joy Jackson Bess on Facebook:

“This is so much fun! Baseball is fun again and it’s tastes like a cold glass of sweet tea on a hot KC August day. We’ve been too thirsty for too long.”

Go, Royals, go.

Good News Friday: A beautiful interaction at a Brewers game. My annual Jim Murray tribute. And a novel way of telling someone they’re gonna be a Grandma

brewersfan

First up on Good News Friday today, we have a very cool and seemingly random story out of Milwaukee.

A woman named Sarah went to a Brewers baseball game recently with her two sons, and had such a wonderful experience with a total stranger that she wrote wrote an open letter to “The Mystery Man in Section 113, Row 17, Seat 22” on her blog.

In it, Sarah talks about this stranger playing with her kids kindly throughout the game (that’s them, above), encouraging them about catching foul balls, and then at the end of the game, taking him down to the dugout to try to get a ball from one of the players.

If that was the whole story, it would be a nice, sweet tale of two strangers. But it gets better. I urge you to click here and read Sarah’s post, and the updates below the awesome photos.

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

**Next up, I thought this was kind of sweet. This couple from Florida, Sean and Lynn Kreps, were trying to come up with a unique way to tell Sean’s mom that Lynn was pregnant.

And so they led her on a little scavenger hunt around their kitchen until she opened the oven. To find… you guessed it, a bun.

I love the smile on the mother’s face when she discovers it. So cute.

jimmurray

**And finally today, it’s August 16, which means three things: It’s my father’s birthday (Happy birthday Dad!), it’s one day before my 38th birthday (Man, I’m old…) and it’s time for my annual tribute to the greatest sportswriter who ever lived, on the anniversary of his death.

Jim Murray died on Aug. 16, 1998, and to say he was one of my writing heroes is a massive understatement.

Murray wasn’t just a great sportswriter for the L.A. Times; he was a storyteller, a comedian, and a man who wrote with a tremendous heart. He wrote now-legendary lines like “Rickey Henderson’s strike zone is smaller than Hitler’s heart” and “Gentlemen, start your coffins,” at the Indy 500.

He also said, of the in-his-prime Muhammad Ali, “I’d like to borrow his body for just 48 hours. There are three guys I’d like to beat up and four women I’d like to make love to.” and that former Lakers star Elgin Baylor “was as unstoppable as a woman’s tears.”

If you’ve never read the former L.A. Times columnist, here are a couple of my favorite pieces by him. The first is a beautiful elegy to his late wife, (he describes her as “a champion at living”) and the second is his heartfelt “obituary” to his left eye, which had finally completely failed him (the last three paragraphs are just so perfect).

If you want to read a couple of pieces that will make you laugh and maybe make you cry, there’s no one better than Jim Murray.

And rest in peace, Jim Murray, the greatest there ever was.

A fabulous HBO documentary on “Aunt Diane.” Honoring the late Jim Murray. And the King of Jordan is the world’s richest Trekkie.

Sometimes you see a movie that stays with you for days, and keeps you staring at the ceiling at night.
I saw a movie like that last weekend. It’s a documentary on HBO called “There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane,” and it’s about the tragic 2009 car crash when a woman named Diane Schuler killed herself, her daughter, three nieces and three strangers when she drove in the wrong direction on New York’s Taconic Parkway.
The movie is haunting as it interviews basically everyone in Diane’s life, trying to figure out what made a 37-year-old mother of two decide to do something incredibly reckless. The filmmaker, Liz Garbus, gets cooperation from Diane’s widow and her sister-in-law, as they, too, look for answers.
An easy answer can be found in Diane’s blood-alcohol-level (0.19, twice the legal limit) and the traces of marijuana in her system.
Her family, of course, says she was never a drinker, even though a bottle of Absolut was found in the car after the wreck. It’s heartbreaking to watch Diane’s family grope for any possible answers to what happened. They don’t believe she was depressed or crazy or anything like that; they think something happened to her medically to cause her to drive for two miles on the wrong side of the highway.

Garbus does a terrific job telling the story from all sides, from the victims to the witnesses to the police who handled the case, and you alternate between feeling sympathy for Diane’s family, and anger at her for destroying so many lives.

I kept asking myself after the movie how so many people in her life could’ve missed the signs of trouble in Diane Schuler. But maybe there weren’t any signs. Maybe she was just barely holding on for a while, and something that July morning in 2009 just made her crack.
It’s truly a terrific film; check it on HBO all month, and on HBO on Demand.

**Today, as I do every year on Aug. 16, I’m thinking about Jim Murray. The greatest sportswriter who ever lived died on this date in 1998, and as long as I have this blog, I’ll do my tiny part to honor him on this day.

Murray wasn’t just a great sportswriter; he was a storyteller, a comedian, and a man who wrote with a tremendous heart. He wrote now-legendary lines like “Rickey Henderson’s strike zone is smaller than Hitler’s heart” and “Gentlemen, start your coffins,” at the Indy 500. He also said, of the in-his-prime Muhammad Ali, “I’d like to borrow his body for just 48 hours. There are three guys I’d like to beat up and four women I’d like to make love to.” and that former Lakers star Elgin Baylor “was as unstoppable as a woman’s tears.”

If you’ve never read the former L.A. Times columnist, here are a couple of my favorite pieces by him. The first is a beautiful elegy to his late wife, and the second is his heartfelt “obituary” to his left eye, which had finally completely failed him. Enjoy. And rest in peace, Jim Murray, the greatest there ever was.

**Say what you want about the King of Jordan, King Abdullah, but the man sure as hell knows how to spend his money.
Apparently he had a spare $1.5 billion lying around. And instead of using it to feed the world’s population or something useless like that, he’s building an environmentally-friendly Star Trek theme park!
Seriously, look at this thing. Isn’t it worth going to Jordan just to stand on line at this bizarro place?
And how much money do you think it would take to get William Shatner to come for the grand opening to host this thing?

The end of “Cathy.” And an incredible email makes me smile

I know this doesn’t exactly paint me as the most masculine of boys, but growing up I was always a HUGE fan of the comic strip “Cathy.”
I think my mom or sister got me reading it at first, but once I started it, I was hooked. I thought it was really funny the way Cathy fought with Irving, obsessed about her figure, and all that. I read “Cathy” and I read “Ziggy” and I read the Family Circus, too. (my favorite Ziggy of all time? When Ziggy is in the psychiatrist’s office and the Dr. says: “Ziggy, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, you’re not paranoid. The bad news is, the whole world really is out to get you.”)

Anyway, Cathy amused me throughout much of my childhood. But now she’s gone, fading off into the ink-stained newspaper in the sky. The creator, Cathy Guisewite, has decided to end the strip after 34 years. It’ll run until October and then poof, it’ll be gone.

I hope Irving and Cathy get hitched in the last strip. That would be awesome.

**In case you haven’t noticed, this blog hasn’t taken the world by storm. I’m so grateful for my loyal readers, though I do wish there were more of you (what blogger doesn’t?)

Moments like one that happened Monday, though, remind me that you just never know who’s out there, and reading your blog.

I wrote about the great Jim Murray, the late sportswriter, for Monday’s blog, on the 12th anniversary of his death.
And what shows up in my inbox and in my comments section around 1 p.m.? An email from Jim Murray’s widow, Linda. She wrote a short note thanking me for writing about him, and sending me a link to a great column on ESPN.com about her work in keeping Jim’s memory alive.

It totally made my day. To think that she saw my little blog, and read my tribute to her husband, was just sensational.

OK, mushiness over. Back to your regularly scheduled mix of snark and humor.

Remembering Jim Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived.

Jim Murray died 12 years ago today.

If you’ve never read a Jim Murray column, I feel sad for you.

Because he was the greatest. The best writer about sports who ever lived, and I won’t accept any argument about that.

He wrote the greatest one-liners ever. Sentences like “Gentlemen, start your coffins,” about the Indy 500.

He said basketball great Elgin Baylor “was as unstoppable as a woman’s tears.” Rickey Henderson had a strike zone “smaller than Hitler’s heart.”

And there were a million more. Murray wrote about sports for the Los Angeles Times for 37 years. He won a Pulitzer, which for a sportswriter is like Gandhi winning an MMA fight.

He wrote with passion, with heart, with understanding, and with wisdom. I regret that I never got to meet him, though a former boss of mine was once in an elevator with him and remembers every single detail, including what floor Murray got off.

He’s as close to a God as we’ve ever had in this profession. I miss his writing all the time, and sometimes, when I’m stuck in a rut, I’ll re-read a few classics from one of my Murray-collection books on the shelf.

And marvel once again at how brilliant he was.

Here are two of my favorite Murray columns ever: First, about the death of his wife, Gerry. And reprinted below, my favorite, about the day he lost his left eye.

R.I.P. Jim Murray. We still miss you.

(Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times 1998 all Rights reserved)

OK, bang the drum slowly, professor. Muffle the cymbals and the laugh track. You might say that Old Blue Eye is back. But that’s as funny as this is going to get.

I feel I owe my friends an explanation as to where I’ve been all these weeks. Believe me, I would rather have been in a press box.

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy.

You see, the friend I lost was my eye. My good eye. The other eye, the right one, we’ve been carrying for years. We just let him tag along like Don Quixote’s nag. It’s been a long time since he could read the number on a halfback or tell whether a ball was fair or foul or even which fighter was down.

So, one blue eye missing and the other misses a lot.

So my best friend left me, at least temporarily, in a twilight world where it’s always 8 o’clock on a summer night.

He stole away like a thief in the night and he took a lot with him. But not everything. He left a lot of memories. He couldn’t take those with him. He just took the future with him and the present. He couldn’t take the past.

I don’t know why he had to go. I thought we were pals. I thought the things we did together we enjoyed doing together. Sure, we cried together. There were things to cry about.

But it was a long, good relationship, a happy one. It went all the way back to the days when we arranged all the marbles in a circle in the dirt in the lots in Connecticut. We played one-old-cat baseball. We saw curveballs together, trying to hit them or catch them. We looked through a catcher’s mask together. We were partners in every sense of the word.

He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snowcapped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. Still, I’m only human. I’d like to see again, if possible, Rocky Marciano with his nose bleeding, behind on points and the other guy coming.

I guess I would like to see Reggie Jackson with the count 3-and-2 and the series on the line, guessing fastball. I guess I’d like to see Rod Carew with men on first and second and no place to put him, and the pitcher wishing he were standing in the rain someplace, reluctant to let go of the ball.

I’d like to see Stan Musial crouched around a curveball one more time. I’d like to see Don Drysdale trying to not laugh as a young hitter came up there with both feet in the bucket.

I’d like to see Sandy Koufax just once more facing Willie Mays with a no-hitter on the line. I’d like to see Maury Wills with a big lead against a pitcher with a good move. I’d like to see Roberto Clemente with the ball and a guy trying to go from first to third. I’d like to see Pete Rose sliding into home headfirst.

I’d like once more to see Henry Aaron standing there with that quiet bat, a study in deadliness. I’d like to see Bob Gibson scowling at a hitter as if he had some nerve just to pick up a bat. I’d like to see Elroy Hirsch going out for a long one from Bob Waterfield, Johnny Unitas in high-cuts picking apart a zone defense. I’d like to see Casey Stengel walking to the mound on his gnarled old legs to take a pitcher out, beckoning his gnarled old finger behind his back.

I’d like to see Sugar Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali giving a recital, a ballet, not a fight. Also, to be sure, I’d like to see a sky full of stars, moonlight on the water, and yes, the tips of a royal flush peeking out as I fan out a poker hand, and yes, a straight two-foot putt.

Come to think of it, I’m lucky. I saw all of those things. I see them yet