If You Haven’t Been Watching Hoops Star Billy Baron

You’re missing something. He’s been amazing here at Canisius.

And his dad is also the Coach at Canisius and is a great guy. I’ve forgiven him for breaking my heart when he was the coach at St. Francis of Loretto in PA and he beat Fordham to stop their run for the NCAA tournament.

A side note: This year in Campus Ministry we launched a new initiative collaborating with the Lutheran Churches here in Buffalo called “Feed Hungry Kids” where we put together 10,000 meals for kids at risk in a few hours. We invited several members of the Canisius College community to come out and the basketball team came out in force that day, including Coach Baron and all his assistant coaches as well. A great show of support for the event and for Canisius.

Keep it up, Barons. I’ll be using the #baroned whenever Billy leads the Griffs to another win. As in “You just got Baroned.”

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Tennis Mensch

BQM6zgDCEAAB5PJA great story on Mashable about tennis great Roger Federer who went above and beyond the call of duty for an 18 year old fan with cancer whose one wish was to meet her hero. The entire story is longer and can be found here but this snip comes after a very full day already with Federer.

I was sitting there waiting for him and it was amazing because I saw soooo many other players. Tsonga asked to get one of the chairs in our table actually haha. I saw Murray, Nadal, Haas, Ferrer, Benneteau, Tipsarevic, Serena, Wozniacki, Radwanska, Lisicki, like, so many of them from up close. It was like heaven for a tennis fan haha. But then Roger finished his interviews and sat at out table with us. I had so many things for him to sign but I knew he was busy so I just took 4 pictures (one for each one in my family) and then 4 blank papers and my tennis bag, and gave for him to sign. He actually addressed the blank papers to each one of us, it was so perfect. In mine he wrote a bit more, and even a happy birthday!! (Did I mention it was my 18th birthday??) And then he asked me “is that it?” and I said “yes” and he was like “are you sure? Don’t be embarrassed about it.” He’s so amazing and kind. So I gave him the rest of the stuff to sign. And he was just sitting there signing and chatting with me, but his manager was telling the guys from ESPN that he needed to go eat lunch, and Roger probably knew he had to, but he would have stayed there the whole day, just talking to us. He stayed a lot more than he had to for sure. But then the people from ESPN tried kinda finishing things up so that he could leave before his manager freaked out. So he went around the table hugging my mom, my dad and my sister, and then it was my turn. He told me I had been through a lot and hugged me really hard and I just started crying so so so much in his shoulder (it was around that time that the picture from my avi was taken haha) He was like “awnn”. Then when I let go of him I was still like sobbing and I turned to him and he was kinda tearing up :’) I thanked him and then he went.

OK..I’m now a fan. I’ve been not following tennis as much as I used to and have not really been a big fan of Federer, but he won me over today. As we hear the stories of so many athletes who do horrible things and who never have time for fans or others, Federer goes the extra yard. As we hear the stories of the baseball steroid era this week, it might be good to note that Federer seems to be a decent human being. Let’s pray that he can continue to be an example for the rest of us.

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Exit Sandman

mariano-rivera-enter-sandman So I don’t get to watch a lot of baseball these days but I really, really loved every moment of the All Star Game. And in particular, I loved the ovation that Mariano Rivera got in his last All Star Game. Rivera is the greatest reliever of all time and I was blessed to get to know him a bit when I covered the Yankees in the late 90s.

A quick story: The Yankees had just won the 1996 World Series against the Braves and I looked over at Rivera’s locker. His entire family had gathered around him and they were so excited. Rivera had come a long way. He is from Panama and his family was so starry eyed to be in the World Series locker room.

I approached Mariano and congratulated him and he gave me a quick “man hug”. Unusual for a player to do that to a reporter but he was excited and had been around me for most of the season’s home schedule. I only had one question for him that day:

“Mariano, you’ve come a long way to get to the major leagues. What do you think this means for all those people in Panama who supported you all these years?”

He looked at his family and said, “I’m just glad they are here with me, but you’re right…it means so much. We didn’t have a whole lot, but we had baseball and spending all that time working really paid off for us.”

Notice he said “us” and not merely “me.”

Rivera is also a deeply religious man, I believe Pentecostal, or some other evangelical denomination. But he’s never haughty about his faith. He thanks God often, but he isn’t preachy, or at least he never was around me. We never had a religious conversation. But on this day, he said:

“You know none of this would have been possible without God and my family and friends from Panama gave me my faith!”

And just then out of nowhere, Mariano and his family started cheering and yelling in Spanish about Panama. I couldn’t understand half of it and it was almost angry…their passion for their country was so high.

I almost thought they were speaking in tongues because somehow that pride was understood by me.

As I left him, I smiled and congratulated him again. I think he was still yelling when I left.

So I was glad to see him get that ovation during the game. If you missed it here’s a clip I found on you tube:

While I thought Chris Sale deserved the MVP award for pitching two scoreless innings there was no way they weren’t giving it to MO. Congrats, Sandman.

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Praying Through Baseball

images-1A recent article in the Christian Century tugged at my heartstrings because it brought up the strong connection many of us pastoral ministry types have with baseball. The author, John Buchanan, talks about the connection between having faith in both religion and the baseball team one follows:

The Pirates remain in my heart, of course, and I am in a near existential crisis when they play the Cubs. However the game turns out, I will both win and lose, rejoice and lament. The Pirates have won three World Series championships during my lifetime, most memorably in 1960 when Pittsburgh upset the heavily favored New York Yankees. The Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to break a 9-9 tie and win the series. It was a moment I have never forgotten. The Cubs, on the other hand, have not won the World Series since 1908 and have created decades of frustration and despair for their followers, with high hopes inevitably crushed, only to be renewed again in the spring.

I sometimes wonder why I care about this game so much. In his new book, Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game, John Sexton (Blogger’s note: Sexton is NYU’s President and a three time Fordham graduate) reinforces my lifelong interest, commitment and enthusiasm. Sexton says that baseball, the only game without a clock, requires concentrated attention and teaches us to “live slow and notice.” He observes that fathers want to give their children something to love, something bigger than themselves to be part of. It is often a religion, and it is often baseball and a team. My parents, thanks be to God, gave me both.

These reflections mirror much of my own feelings about the grand, old game. Most people don’t realize that Baseball is as more about what is not happening than it is about what IS happening. (Will the runner steal? What will the pitcher throw him? Why is the shortstop so deep in the hole for this hitter? Should we bring in a reliever?) The minutia in the game is chock full of statistics and stories that have filled dozens of books and oral traditions. It’s amazing how many stories I have that surround baseball. I can remember moments during high school games, where I almost always rode the bench, but came away with amazing stories and life lessons that have stuck with me to this day. One in particular stands out:

Last inning and our pitcher Mike Rodak heads to the mound and has been masterful. If memory serves he’s throwing a two hitter and we’re up 2-0. Rodak walks the first batter bringing the tying run to the plate. He rears back and throws his best curve of the day to stun the hitter cold and there’s one out. The next batter hits a one hopper that our shortstop knocks down but can only get a force play at second on, but there’s two outs now.

We can smell victory.

Rodak looks spent. He’s all over the place and walks the next guy on four pitches. Now the tying run is on base.

“Mike,” Coach Prior bellows to me, the scorekeeper, “what did this guy do last time?”

“Lined out to straight away center.”

“OK I’m gonna go get Rodak before this guy hits another shot like that!”

“Coach, c’mon. There’s two outs. He also struck this guy out earlier. He’s come this far. Let’s see if he can finish it.”

I knew Mike would rather die than be taken out of this game and he pitched a beauty and thought he could get this guy out.

“Kid,” Coach Prior barked, “You have to win with your best. And right now, Vasquez gives us the best chance at an out.” And Coach trotted out and took the ball from Rodak and handed the ball to Tommy Vasquez, our ace pitcher.

Tommy was amazing. He indeed was our best pitcher on the squad. He even bounced around the minors a bit after he graduated. He was also a great guy, always taking time for guys like me who just didn’t have the talent, but who he saw loved the game and really wanted to just get a chance to contribute. He’d lobby to get me in the game as a pinch hitter and I’d always be grateful. He even let me pinch hit for him once.

So Tommy comes in and we’re feeling confident. “You got this, Tommy!” I yell. After his warm ups, Tommy looks in for the sign. He winds. He throws. Fastball, belt high…

And the batter hits one that I don’t think has landed yet.

There was no wall at this field so the ball just flew and by the time the ball had gotten back the batter has crossed home plate with a walk-off three run homer.

Rodak had been sitting next to me on the bench. He looked forlorn and said to me, “All that shit for nothing.”

It reminds me a bit of what the disciples must have felt like in the upper room. They had done everything right. Jesus, in fact, WAS the messiah and they followed Him, spending days and nights working with him and giving him every ounce of their dedication. Surely He was the one who would set them free from bondage.

And then they killed Him, hanging Him like a common criminal. It was all over in a short 24 hours.

Baseball reminds us, as does Good Friday, that even when we do everything right, sometimes things don’t go as we planned. This is not God playing torture games with us, rather it’s an opportunity for us to find God within the suffering experience.

That afternoon we boarded the bus and Tommy was dejected. Rodak just as angry, not at Tommy, just at the whole mess. We had a small rubber “Sigmund and the sea monsters” plastic hand puppet that was kind of a team mascot for the day. And so Luis Alvarez, our second baseman decided that someone had to break the silence.

“WOW!” he yelled, thrusting Sigmund’s mouth agape, “Tommy got taken REEEEEEEAL DEEP.” And on the word real, Sigmund’s mouth opened immensely.

We all looked at Tommy, who just smiled and then laughed a bit. It was over. There was nothing more to do or say. It was simply time to move on and get them next time. And the next time out Tommy stood a bit stronger for the journey. In fact, I don’t think Tommy or Mike lost again that year.

The themes of forgiveness, resurrection, mindfulness and even silence are intertwined within both baseball and our faith. Like Rev. Buchanan, I am proud that my parents gave me a rich opportunity to be familiar with my faith and to love it. And they also gave me a love for baseball. Together they both have remained with me and have taught me much about resiliency and sacrifice.

May they never leave me. Play ball.

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People Forget How Sports Builds Character

And wrestling is one of those kinds of sports.

I hope the IOC reconsiders this but I doubt they will. I didn’t wrestle, our high school didn’t have a team. But I ran cross-country my Senior year and really enjoyed that and the big mistake of my life was not keeping up that 5K running regimen. Trying to get that back now at 43 is extremely tough. I played baseball in high school as well and my memories of treasured teammates and helping one another work through things together was really my first ministry, especially because I rode the bench much and people would come to me with issues and problems. The really interesting thing is the diversity of our team and how race never, EVER entered into our relationships. We had Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Irish, Italians, Asians, Jews, Christians, we even had a Jordanian. We were a team and if you could play, you were one of us.

I was clearly the last guy on the bench. I got 12 at bats in a four YEAR career. I went 5 for 13. Stole 3 bases. My sophomore year on the JV team I went 4 for 6…all clean singles to center. The two outs I made was a strike out (I still say that ball was outside!) and a line out to Center that the CFer made an incredible diving catch on. While I was never a great player, I tried my best and got a lot better between my freshman and sophomore year. I went 2 for 6 in two years on the Varsity. They were both cheap infield singles but at least I pulled the ball and beat them out. I was an awkward teen who just loved the game and liked being on the team. The guys stuck up for me and I insist that I made a good deal of them better players because I busted my backside out there when I easily could have been doing other things.

Sports gave me much to consider and I cherish the memories and relied much on the discipline of being on teams to center me on the more important things in life. Faith, family and friends. Dad never missed a game, whether I played or not. One of the stars of the team, Tommy Vazquez who had a cup of coffee in the minors, always encouraged me and Carlos Hernandez rallied to my cause when I was always on the bubble of being cut. “Coach, ya can’t cut Hayes. He keeps us motivated and he’s the only one who can keep the damn scorebook anyway. For that reason alone…keep him around.”

On Cross country I was a novice and really did it just to get in shape. But it was challenging. I was never great at it. 23 minutes was about my usual time which is about average for runners. There were guys who’d finish it in 17 minutes and would not even be sweating by the time I finished! But I wasn’t trying to beat them. Just tried to improve my time each time out–which i did. My best time was 22:50 and I was so excited to break the 23 minute mark. I had this one teammate, Jayson who would always catch me about three quarters of the way into the race. There was a boathouse on the trail and somehow he’d always catch me there and pass me and would beat me by about 15 seconds. Our final race I was determined:

“Jay, today is my day. You are not going to see me today!”

Jay: “Yeah, OK. I’ll see ya at the boathouse!”

Me: (Angry) “You will not even see my back today!”

Jay: “We’ll see!”

I ran my PR that day and he never saw me once. I nearly caught beat a really good runner to the finish line from another school, but he poured it on once he heard my footsteps and crossed just in front of me and then slapped me on the back and said “Way to push me!”

Jay crossed a good 40 seconds behind me.

He came over and said “Man of your word. I didn’t see you once after the gun went off. You were moving today!”

I can remember my coach coming over to me and saying “Now THAT was running!”

I only wish I had done it all four years and really regret that I don’t do it anymore. I’m determined to get back to being a runner–at least on a small scale. I have weird knees now and heel spurs—so there are some limitations but I don’t think a 5K is out of the question.

Sports are not an escape. They are not a way to put life on hold and just distract ourselves long enough to not pay attention to what else is going on. What sports does for us is to push us into inspiration. Whether we’re watching or participating, sports enables us to think, just maybe I can overcome the odds in life as well.

And I think that’s what the IOC forgets each time they drop a sport.

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On Coaching Angry

ESPN reported this morning that Rutgers Coach Mike Rice has been fired for…well just watch the video.

Embarrassing. But not surprising. I’ve been in many college basketball practices. Nick Macarchuk was the basketball coach when I was at Fordham and Rice was one of his players. Nick could curse a blue streak at times, but I don’t think I ever saw him touch a player or throw a ball at a player. So where Rice picked up this kind of anger is beyond me at this point.

Rice was one of the leaders of a 1991 squad that went to the NIT and won a round my junior year. He was never a great player, but he was smart and understood the game. His father is an analyst for college basketball games and coached at Youngstown State.

But the problem with sports is that there is always a “boys will be boys” attitude that is pervasive in the locker rooms of all kinds of athletic teams. The problem is that in this case Coach Rice is not a boy who throws a temper tantrum when things don’t go well. He’s a man. And needs to set an example for his players and for the university.

Sports tend to be a loud, rowdy, raucous affair. Football games are downright violent in the stands some days, never mind on the field. There’s often great fun in trash talking until it goes too far and a fight breaks out in the stands.

Losing streaks get frustrating, especially at the professional level and when players are permitted to throw bats and sticks and we just think it’s funny..there’s something wrong with us. Check out Wally Backman here in a minor league game. (there is a lot of cursing here so be forewarned).

When I was a reporter I saw coaches and players with poor attitudes and guys who would just yell at people for no reason. Intimidation was always the role of the day for most of these guys.

It’s just wrong. At any level. Looking back I only remember one high school coach really yelling in a hateful way towards his players when I played high school sports. My soccer, baseball and especially my cross country coach were all extremely positive men and great role models…and sure they got mad at us once in awhile. Sure they yelled and were driven individuals and they would implore us to try our hardest and would groan when we made errors, or turned a ball over, or were dogging it out there.

But none of them ever threw a ball at me, pushed me or called me a horrible name.

Guys sometimes make fun of each other and call each other names in jest. And I know I’ve taken part in that at times, especially in my younger years. But men need to be mature enough to control their emotions and clearly Coach Rice is out of control.

That’s not acceptable.

A final word or two: If you are a coach and you are that out of control, how out of control will your players be? Tom Landry, the famed Dallas Cowboys coach was often emotionless on the sidelines and he seemed to get the best out of his players. Mike Krzyzewski of Duke always seems rather measured on the sidelines. Here’s the worst from him…and I think this is about the level of anger that can be tolerated.

Players often need a coach who can keep his head clear when everyone else is losing theirs. It’s called being a good manager. Sometimes you do need to fight for your players and to try to keep the ref or ump honest when they make a bad call and lobby for getting a call right when you can. But you more apt get a call when you reason with those guys than scream at them.

I played in a beer league softball team which we took very seriously. It was a very competitive “hardtop” league–meaning we played in a concrete schoolyard and it was not out of the question that one of us was going to slide to try to break up a double play. Most of the guys I played with were law students and for as smart as they were we couldn’t get some of them to stop arguing with the umpires. They’d accuse them of racism when they’d make a bad call. They scream at the top of their lungs at them. They’d question their calls when they didn’t know the rules themselves sometimes. I was forever running out on the field to break up a fight between a player and an umpire, mostly because the player didn’t know what they were talking about and the umpire made the right call. The umps would just laugh it off. But do you think that guy EVER gave that player a close call after that? If it was a close play he was out. If he was pitching and a pitch was just off the corner there was no way he was getting a call strike three. It does you no good to go ballistic.

Mature adults learn to motivate others and collaborate with others in a positive way. That includes coaches and players and anyone else involved in sports. Cooler heads need to prevail.

I’ll pray for Mike Rice today. And will hope that he learns to control his anger. But for today, I’ll also remain embarrassed for him and take some time to simply sit quietly in peace, knowing that centering myself is what we all need to stay calm in the face of frustrating moments.

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Rangers Reporter and Fordham’s Own John Giannone Takes Puck to the Face

Ouch watch this:

The guy’s a gamer, breaks open the bridge to his nose and does a live shot with blood dripping down his face. Now THAT’S HOCKEY.

John’s a good guy and a former colleague. I used to have him on every Saturday with Richard Neer to talk all kinds of things, but mostly hockey. He’s also a Fordham guy, so that automatically makes him cool.

And speaking of which the Sabres gave me an early present last night with a win:

I got a little excited at the end. I’m a big Miller fan so I was glad to see him make the save and for the Sabres to end their early season slump.

Here was my favorite moment of the game though:

The cutie with the hockey jersey on is my wife, who puts up with my sports watching. She took me to the hockey game last night and we had a good time. She even was a sport and put on a jersey.

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The Cyclones Host Fictitious Friday in Honor of Manti Te’o

The Mets’ minor league team in Brooklyn–the Brooklyn Cyclones take the cake with this promotion.

In light of recent events involving All-American linebacker Manti Te’o, the Brooklyn Cyclones have announced that June 21 will be Fictitious Friday at MCU Park. The Single-A Affiliate of the New York Mets will have legendary fireballer Sidd Finch on the mound, in what will be his long-awaited professional debut (What do you mean he’s not real?), when they take on Roy Hobbs and the New York Knights (Wait, that team only exists in a movie and they are actually playing the Aberdeen IronBirds). Fans should be sure to arrive early because prior to the game, The Beatles will reunite for a once-in-a-lifetime concert event. (Okay, that’s apparently not true either, but this girl I met online told me she could make it happen).

Enough joking around, now here are some true statements about the plans for the evening. Anyone who purchases one ticket at regular price will be allowed to bring their make believe significant-other to the ballpark free of charge. Fans will also have the chance to draw a picture of their girlfriend, because obviously something came up and she couldn’t make it, so that their friends can finally see what she looks like. As a special treat, MCU Park will host a unique petting zoo for those in attendance, featuring a unicorn, a mermaid, and a Minotaur. The Cyclones are also in discussions with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot to throw out a ceremonial first pitch that evening. In keeping with the tradition of Coney Island amusements, the Cyclones will put a spin on a traditional carnival game, as fans that are able to toss a ping-pong ball into a fish bowl will receive a catfish. Lastly, all of the player headshots used on the video board will just be random people whose photos we find on the Internet.

For those who don’t know, Sidd Finch was a fictitious pitcher who Sports Illustrated reported threw 186MPH and a Curve at 111mph or something like that. They published the article on April 1st and people didn’t catch on.

Roy Hobbs is Robert Redford’s role in the movie “The Natural”. And the Catfish reference is from the TV show where they set people up with fake people.

Maybe the Mets should also do this promotion since they can’t seem to win with the players they have anyway.

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Did Manti Punk Us?

The drama ensuing from Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend story being a hoax is going to leave a blight on Notre Dame. Take a gander at this story on deadspin and tell me what you believe so far.

Here’s what I think: I think that the idea of being a celebrity is way too engrained in the lives of talented millennials. In other words, it wasn’t enough for Manti Te’o to be a star linebacker, he had to be more than that. He had to be larger than life. I’m hoping that’s not the case, as Notre Dame is standing by Manti’s story that he was the one taken advantage of here by someone who played on his emotions. Perhaps the ruse embarrassed him so much that he didn’t want to lose face? Other reports say Manti was in on it and if that’s true, than we have a megalomaniac on our hands.

The question that remains us why? Our consumeristic society can tell us something here, because even when we have enough it is never enough. Stars have to be superstars and what’s the difference between a model and a supermodel anyway? Sports stars like Terrell Owens and Tim Tebow have dominated headlines during the week but them often fell flat own game day. So far, we can’t say that about Te’o with the exception of the Alabama game. Yet, it is all too easy to feel like we were taken for a ride by someone. We wanted to believe in the power of inspiration and maybe that much is real, but to now find out that what was behind the inspiration is nothing more than a cheap joke, is stunning and sad.

On a retreat once, I had someone who was clearly making up stories, most likely for attention, but also because the person was mentally ill and off meds. Whenever people get a bit of attention these days it seems that they must bask in the limelight to the tenth power. The need to maximize stardom is well at the heart of this case, I think, and that is something Notre Dame should well pay attention to, because that addiction may have gotten them hooked as well.

Notre Dame and Manti Te’o are back in the headlines and I wonder if Manti, while he says he is embarrassed, isn’t still taking all of us a bit more further down the tracks of celebrity? Perhaps we are still feeding the addiction of celebrity, even while we are feeling robbed.

And maybe, just maybe Manti is laughing all the way to the bank.

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Remembering Marty

My friend Phil Giubileo, over at the Play by Play blog took some time for some memories of Marty Glickman, the famed New York radio sportscaster who I came to know well during our undergraduate days at Fordham. He was invited by the acclaimed Bob Papa, now the voice of the NY Giants amongst other things, to become our broadcast coach at Fordham during our activity period. It was a rare chance for a bunch of young broadcasters to be tutored by the man known as the “Dean of Broadcasters.” Marty had invented much of sports radio play by play broadcasting and was one of the first “jock sportscasters” after being a track and football star at Syracuse and being named to the 1936 Olympic team only to be snubbed by anti-semitism.

Marty was a great guy and was a great mentor. You’d look forward to his praise but you’d invite his criticism as well. It only made you better and he was quick to make your mistakes obvious. If you fell behind a play he’d point it out. “I heard that whistle 3 whole seconds before you called that guy down!” When on the radio sometimes it’s easy to get lazy because you know nobody else is watching the action that you are–especially obscure teams that aren’t televised. You don’t have to “call the play” as closely on TV because the action is right there. But on radio, description is key and Marty gave you no slack in giving descriptions of ballgames.

Someone would say “That was a great play!” And Marty would scream, “That word doesn’t mean anything! It was a GREAT play–well, WHY THE HELL WAS IT GREAT?” You’d then sheepishly tell Marty that the player made a leaping one handed grab. And he’d say “NOW THAT’S a description. Have those words ready.”

I tried pretty hard to be a broadcaster and fell short of “the dream” of doing it full-time as a career with a major league team. The truth is that I just didn’t love it as much as some of my classmates and colleagues. I was always being pulled away by ministry. When I started to consider leaving broadcasting someone asked me why I got into the business in the first place and I was able to summon two reasons.

The first was that I wasn’t a great athlete in high school but loved playing and being around the team. I knew a lot about sports and we’d all sit on the sidelines and talk until we got into the game. So I had some natural talent that other guys would encourage in me. I kept score and knew the nuances of the game and I had a good speaking voice. I did PA announcing for the football and basketball games and would often call it play by play back then–not really understanding the difference between play by play and public address announcing, but it got me sharp. So I pursued that as a career in college.

The second came from Marty. And I tell this story in my book Loving Work. Marty was a master of description and so I asked him how I can improve this skill for myself. He said to me, “You know what challenges me? Each year I do a circus on the “radio for the blind”. Man that’s tough. I mean how do you describe an Elephant to someone who can’t see what it is?” Marty had invited us college guys weeks later to a dinner held in his honor for a Syracuse University Scholarship named for him. It was at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center and I was seated next to a man who was blind. Marty developed a friendship with him for many years and it was that night that I asked him how he knew Marty and he simply said, “Well, Marty’s been my eyes for over 50 years.”

I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Everything else didn’t matter. I vowed to keep people like this guy in mind every time I was on the air. Description was paramount. Beth Kelly was no longer just a Sophomore forward, she was an apple cheeked Irish colleen that stood 5’8″ tall. Damon Lopez was a barrel-chested 6’8″, 240. Even names were described well. Mark Blazejewski was pronounced BLAH-JA-EFF-SKI. All stuff that Marty taught us. Uniforms–what were the colors. Michael Kay on Yankeee games talks about the interlocking “NY” on Yankee hats–where do you think he learned that? Of course, at Fordham, from Marty.

But it was my altruism that was exciting me, not the thrill of being on the air, or in sports. And I could feel Marty whispering in my ear that it was OK to leave and to follow what you were clearly more called to do.

Often Marty’s best advice was stuff that he taught us outside of broadcasting: Stay fit, eat well, always wear a hat, but never indoors to stay warm in the winter and to take care of one another. When asked what his greatest achievement was, Marty never hesitated: “Marrying my wife.” Marge Glickman was a wonderful woman and Marty had married well. He recalled that when he got his first sponsor, he took that money and Marge and him “got married on that money.” Then the sponsor dumped them. “But we stayed married!” he quipped. “For better, or for worse, for richer, for poorer. And all that stuff. We learned that early.”

Marty was a champion of seeking out higher values. Besides his experience in the 1936 Olympics, Marty was decisively anti-gambling. If you mentioned a point spread, Marty would get all over you. “You don’t need to contribute to gamblers!” he’d yell. He once told us that his father lost the family business gambling and so he had made a decision that he was not going to support gambling in any way. He hated the environment around boxing and told us to be careful around that element if we got involved with broadcasting boxing.

I wonder what he’d think of broadcasters today. He hated Dick Vitale’s style on College Basketball and the entertainment value of broadcasting is now much more paramount than the journalistic value at times. I often think he’d understand that, but hate it at the same time. I do think he’d love the internet and would encourage us to develop our own shows without the bureaucrats running the airwaves. Something about the democracy of the internet would appeal to his sensibilities I think.

A final story: I had a deja vu experience of Marty when I had graduated from Graduate School at Fordham. As many of you know, my father is an Irish immigrant. He never went to high school, never mind college. He worked hard to send me to school and I was able to make it to the next level with some help from Fordham and from the Paulist Fathers. He was very proud of me that day.

After the ceremony the Dean came over and met my mom and dad and sister and he already knew Marion, my wife. He said to my father, “Michael is one of our best students, we’re very proud to say that he’s a graduate of our school today and to have your family with us today.”

My father beamed. And then I remembered Marty telling nearly the same story about his mother and a Syracuse professor who came and said “I must meet the mother of one of my favorite students.” His mother could only afford to come to graduation from the city and Marty welled up…”My immigrant mother could never imagine that such a learned man would say anything like that to her! That’s why Syracuse is so special to me.”

And Fordham to me. Not only because of that one story.

But also, because it was there that I met Marty Glickman.

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