Just Another Day

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 was just another day.  I read a newspaper.  (Remember when we all did that?)  And the top stories included these items.  An essay by Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times Opinion Columnist) (see photo below)  with the heading: “Tiger Woods and the Game of Life.  Golf is all about how you react when you get a bad bounce.”

Friedman

His column was unusual because Mr. Friedman’s day job “is writing the foreign affairs column for The New York Times.”  He said: “It’s hard for nongolfers to appreciate the scope of Tiger’s physical and psychological achievement, after he went through four back surgeries and (much tabloid exposure).  Winning a 5thMasters was an exceptional achievement.”

“The biggest takeaway for me is the reminder of the truism that golf is the sport most like life, because it is played on an uneven surface.  Good and bad bounces are built into the game, and so much of success in golf is about how you react to those good and bad bounces.”

“Golf is played under pressure and every shot must take into account four things: physics, geometry, geography, and psychology.”  Mr. Friedman evaluated Tiger’s performance in a unique piece of writing.

There were other stories that caught my eye on April 16th.  In baseball, all players wore number 42 on their uniforms to honor the memory of Jackie Robinson who integrated MLB on that date in 1947.  That story brought to mind the contributions of other baseball men of color (eg, Curt Flood and RobertoClemente) who also played significant roles in the integration of baseball.  And there was this quote by James Baldwin in 1962: “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

April 16 was the birthday of two “famous people” I admired: Peter Billingsley (“Ralphie”, the youngster in “A Christmas Story” –now age 45) and Kareem Abdul-Jabber, age 72; I assume he needs no introduction).

Pulitzer Prizes were announced on April 16th.  And, in France, Notre Dame de Paris burned.  Plus, somewhere in The United States, a man with the Initials DJT must have done something he thought outweighed the importance of all these events.  As usual, he was wrong.

Yes, Tuesday, April 16, 2019 was just another day.  Important, and complicated, and difficult to keep in perspective.

 

About rcarmean

Two things... First, why have I decided to establish this blog? I like to put essays together. I research an idea or topic looking for information, statistics, stories, quotes, pictures, etc. I enjoy the process and seeing a finished product. I’m told that as I get older, new activities can help maintain energy and keep my brain alert. In other words, I am not doing this for money or fame. Second, regarding the gentleman in the collage of pictures above...it's not me. Those are photos of Christy Mathewson. Why him? When I was young, my primary activity was being sick. It took up much of my time. Eczema (a case so bad I was written up in a medical journal showing doctors what their patients COULD look like), asthma, and allergies. You know allergies: don’t eat this, don’t wear that, and, for Heaven’s sake, don’t touch any of these things (eg, dogs, cats, horses --I only saw horses in cowboy movies and TV shows, dust, swimming pools, my brother --OK, that’s an exaggeration, Rick was a fine brother). In my spare time between doctors' appointments, pills, and ointments, baseball kept me sane. In the 1940s and 1950s, when I grew up, pro footballI and basketball had not yet become extremely popular. Baseball truly was “the national pastime.” I listened to games on the radio (remember it? TV without the picture). I read magazines, books, and newspaper accounts of games. I collected baseball cards. I learned about the game’s history, as well as present. The same with its stars. One man stood out: Christy Mathewson. He was a great pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 20th century. But there was much more to him. At a time when professional athletes made little money (yes, there was such a time) and ball players were considered on the same level as actors, artists, and prostitutes, Mathewson stood out. One of his nicknames was: “The Christian Gentleman.” Most men is baseball drank, smoked, cursed, and fought —with other players, umpires, and fans. The fights were physical, not just verbal. Mathewson did none of these things. But he earned the respect of other players who did them all. Even Ty Cobb and John McGraw. There’s more. He was a college graduate (Bucknell University) when most men were lucky to have a high school diploma. He played other sports, including pro football which you wouldn’t recognize. He was handsome. He played in New York City, then as now, the largest city in the country. Excellence and popularity there meant fame and money. He dressed well. Today, his commercials would rival LeBron’s. And, finally, a hero’s life must have tragedy. After his playing career ended, WWI arrived. He suffered from influenza and was exposed to mustard gas. Chemical warfare. His lungs were damaged and he required treatment for the rest of his life. (Like my Grandfather who also fought in The Great War.) He died in 1925. He was 45 years old. I have his picture here because you need to know more about him than me. He was what an athlete could be. Players like him and their accomplishments got me through a sickly, painful childhood and can still sustain me in difficult times. *****
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