Blind baseball columnist Ed Lucas dead at 82

The New York Giants had just won the 1951 pennant on Bobby thomson the walk-off homerun against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Polo fields wh...


The New York Giants had just won the 1951 pennant on Bobby thomsonthe walk-off homerun against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Polo fields when 12-year-old Ed Lucas ran out of his Jersey City apartment in the late afternoon to play baseball with his friends.

Rarely asked to throw because of his poor vision – he was legally blind – he took the mound when some of the other boys returned home. He put on his thick glasses – none of his favorite major league pitchers wore glasses, so why should he? – and uncorked a tar with all his might.

The batter tipped over. The bullet hit Eddie between the eyes.

“The twilight of an October afternoon on a makeshift baseball field as a white horsehide sphere shattered my fragile vision was the last clear thing I ever saw,” he wrote in “Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Obstacles” (2015, with his son Christophe). “The pain was overwhelming. Bright lightning obscured my view.

His retinas became detached and his vision deteriorated further. He went completely blind on a day he will always remember: December 11, 1951, date of Joe DiMaggio’s retirement.

Although unable to see the Diamond or the players on it, Mr. Lucas’ love for the game has remained intact, displayed in a long career as a baseball writer for the New Jersey newspapers; as a broadcaster; and as a contributor to the Yankees’ YES Network website, for which he received a New York Emmy Award in 2009.

He died on November 10 at a hospital in Livingston, NJ. He was 82 years old and lived in the nearby town of Union. The cause was pulmonary fibrosis, said Christopher Lucas.

As Mr. Lucas recovered from an unsuccessful surgery to reattach his retinas, his mother, Rosanna (Furey) Lucas, attempted to cheer Eddie up by writing letters to the Giants, Yankees and Dodgers, hoping that their players, coaches and broadcasters would offer to meet. him and encourage him. Leo Durocher, the Giants manager was among the first to respond, inviting Eddie to the Polo Grounds the following season.

And when her mother learned that Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto was working off-season at a menswear store in Newark, NJ, she and her husband, Edward Sr., took Eddie to see (and buy) him. a costume) in November 1951; it started a friendship that lasted until Rizzuto’s death 56 years later.

Edward Joseph Lucas Jr. was born prematurely on January 3, 1939 in Jersey City, NJ; a lack of oxygen had weakened his eyes and he needed surgery to treat glaucoma and cataracts.

Her father had a variety of jobs, including waiter, dock worker, and press for the New York Times; her mother worked as a cashier and stocker in an A. & P .. supermarket.

After being blind, Eddie attended St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City and the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind in the Bronx (now New York Institute for Special Education). At the institute, he formed a group of baseball fans who asked the players to speak to his class; Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle were among those who agreed.

He attended Seton Hall University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1962. While a student there, he hosted a show on campus radio station, WSOU, which featured his interviews with baseball personalities.

Credit…via the Lucas family

Mr. Lucas has often been asked how a blind man can cover baseball. He cited a “unique sensory experience” – the ability to sense where a ball has been hit by listening to the click of the bat.

“He would know if it was a ball to right field or a shot to the ground on the court,” said Harvey Zucker, former sports editor of the Jersey Journal, who often accompanied Mr. Lucas to games.

Mr. Lucas’ work first appeared in The Hudson Dispatch in 1958 as a high school stringer. He wrote for the newspaper as a freelance writer until the mid-1960s, then began writing a column for The Journal. His last column appeared in July. He has also contributed to Yankees Magazine.

Mr. Lucas did not rely on room-by-room accounts in his writing or radio work. Instead, he focused on talks with players, many of whom have befriended, like Mantle, Barry Bonds, Bernie Williams and Dave Righetti.

He had been disappointed that he could not be hired as a sports journalist after graduating from Seton Hall. So he accepted a position as an insurance salesman and went on to work as the director of public relations at Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital in Secaucus, NJ, and as an ambassador, fundraiser and member of the board of directors of St. Joseph’s. Home.

In the 1980s, when his baseball job finally became a full-time activity, he aired a weekly radio show on WMCA-AM during baseball season.

He married Margaret Geraghty in 1965 and they had two sons, Edward and Christopher, but she left the family in 1972, prompting Mr Lucas’ sister, Maureen, and her husband, Jimmy, to move in with Mr. Lucas to help him. take care of boys. Mr. Lucas and his wife divorced in 1973.

In 1979, his ex-wife successfully pursued full custody of the children. Faced with long chances as a blind man, he regained custody on appeal in Hudson County Superior Court.

“I knew I was a good father,” he told the Record of Hackensack, NJ, in 1980. “The truth wins out as far as I’m concerned.”

Mr. Lucas did most of his baseball work at Yankee Stadium, where on opening day in 1976, DiMaggio sat next to him in the press gallery, told him to put the radio away. with transistors and the headset he needed to follow the matches, and delivered a personal part – per set.

Thirty years later, Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner gave his consent when Mr. Lucas requested that he be allowed to marry Allison Pfeifle on the grounds of Yankee Stadium a month before opening day. Mr. Steinbrenner paid for a dinner reception for 350 people at the stadium.

“To paraphrase Mr. Gehrig,” Ms. Lucas said at a press conference after the ceremony, “I truly consider us to be the two luckiest people on the planet”.

Besides his son Christopher, Mr. Lucas is survived by his wife, his other son, Eddie, and three grandsons.

One day in 1965, Mr. Lucas was interviewing Ron Swoboda, then a rookie outfielder for the Mets, who asked him how he lost his sight.

“When I told him about my childhood accident,” Mr. Lucas wrote in his autobiography, “he then asked me if anyone had ever taken me to a major league baseball stadium to describe him. up close. I said no. I spent the next 45 minutes walking with Ron as he helped me better visualize Shea by running my hand along the outfield wall, touching the bases and running the length of the warning trail.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Blind baseball columnist Ed Lucas dead at 82
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