October 17th, 2011
MY APOLOGIES TO THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF DAN WHELDON AND ALL RACING FANS. AT THE TIME I POSTED MY BLOG ABOUT WHAT A GREAT DAY SUNDAY WAS FOR A SPORTS FAN I WAS NOT AWARE OF THE TRAGIC ACCIDENT AND SUBSEQUENT DEATH OF DAN IN THE RACE IN LAS VEGAS. HAVING BEEN A TEAMMATE AND FRIEND OF THURMAN MUNSON, THE YANKEE CAPTAIN WHO WAS KILLED IN A PLANE CRASH IN 1979, I AM VERY AWARE OF THE SHOCK AND SADNESS PEOPLE FEEL WHEN THEY HEAR ABOUT THE DEATH OF AN ATHLETE WHO WAS NEAR AND DEAR TO SO MANY PEOPLE. WE TEND TO THINK OUR SPORTS HEROS ARE IMMUNE TO TRAGEDIES THAT WE READ ABOUT THAT HAPPEN EVERY DAY.
WITH ALL THE JOYS OF VICTORY AND DISAPPOINTMENTS OF DEFEAT THE ACCIDENT IN LAS VEGAS PUTS LIFE IN IT’S PROPER PERSPECTIVE. THEY’RE ALL JUST GAMES. LIFE IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN A GAME.
HEARFELT CONDOLENCES TO DAN’S WIFE AND CHILDREN. WORDS SEEM SO HOLLOW AT A TIME LIKE THAT BUT ALL WE COULD TELL DIANE MUNSON AFTER THURMAN’S DEATH WAS…..CHERISH THE MEMORIES.
Beautiful day yesterday for the sports fan….Here in New England we got to watch Tom Brady do what he has been doing for a decade. Lead the Patriots to victory with an efficient exhibition of accurate passing and intelligent play calling. I watched Ben Crane come from 8 shots back with 11 holes left to play and comeback to win a PGA event in a playoff. And then, to top it off, the St. Louis Cardinals beating the Milwaukee Brewers to complete the most improbable comeback in my lifetime of baseball history to win the National League pennant.
I look forward to comparing the Cardinals and Texas Rangers before Wednesday night’s World Series opener but today I’d like to pay homage to the way these individuals and teams conducted themselves when they won and as they performed.
A sportscaster and excellent play by play hockey announcer , Al Shaver, did a sports wrap up show on WCCO radio in Minneapolis in the late 60’s. I have never forgotten his closing tag line and I always kept in fresh in my mind during my playing career. He said, ” This is Al Shaver saying “When you lose say little, when you win…say less.” Beautiful! When will athletes get that attitude? Nyjer Morgan and Zack Grienke of the Brewers and the over the top “look at me” NFL players doing their personal sack or touchdown dances like Cam Newton yesterday. He’s doing great but is his team winning?
I got a chance up close to see how the NY Yankees in the 60’s with Roger and Mickey and Whitey acted when they won and the Orioles in the late 60’s. Brooks and Frank Robinson and company…pure class. they carried themselves with dignity and humility. Those seem to be forgotten qualities today for athletes. Now I understand spontaneous joy and celebration. That’s normal in today’s games versus years ago when it wasn’t accepted. You were tabbed as a “Showboat” or in baseball, a “Hot Dog” if you showed emotion when you did something special.
Of course, now it doesn’t have to be special. just an ordinary tackle or hit or strikeout seems to merit a big celebration. I watched Alan Page of the Vikings and Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers and Harmon Killebrew, my teammate for 16 years with the Minnesota Twins do great things and act like it was just something they were supposed to do not celebrate like they helped achieve world peace or found a cure for cancer.
So…here’s to Tom Brady, who was shown on the bench after leading his team to victory, sitting almost expressionless, acting like he just did something that was very routine and didn’t need props to massage his ego. And to Ben Crane, who gave his fellow competitor, Webb Simpson, a hug and a pat after Simpson missed a putt to give Ben the victory in the McGladrey’s classic. And most of all to the St. Louis Cardinals players and their manager, Tony La Russa, who talked about their heart and character and praised their opponent.
Maybe I’m too old fashioned to accept today’s showboats and hotdogs and occasionally arrogant athletes, but I’ll never waver from my agreeing with Al Shaver. When you lose say little, when you win…say less.