Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Passages

Happy Tuesday to all, if there is such a "thing."  Notice how people say "I didn't know it was a thing" or "don't make it a thing?"  I credit Aaron Sorkin and the writing staff of "The West Wing" for making "thing" a thing.

Ahem.

There have been a lot of transitions since my last post, so here's my take on several of them.

As most everyone knows, the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer passed away a little more than a week ago at the age of 87.  I was very sad that he was gone, but he left us with so many vivid and positive memories.  He was Everyman on the golf course, hitching up his pants to attempt an impossible shot that often worked during his prime years.  He was definitely a man of the people, and his management company (which was an innovation in its day) did an effective job of marketing him to the masses, endorsing all kinds of products.

He had a line of clothing that, for a time, was sold by Sears.  He endorsed Pennzoil and Jiffy Lube and Cooper Tires.  He had his own brand of golf equipment, and my first "good" golf clubs were Palmers.  He was among the first athletes to recognize the value of chartered air travel and eventually became a pilot himself, a habit he continued until just a few years ago.  He never appeared to view himself as important, but understood the responsibility that came with fame and recognition.

I had the chance to meet Arnold Palmer at a media event for a senior golf tournament here in Lexington many years ago.  I spotted him when my coworker and I first arrived, waited for him to finish a conversation with some other visitors and I made my way over to him.  He was wearing a pale yellow sport coat, his signature pink golf shirt, and was the color of mahogany, from years outdoors.  I introduced myself, and he wrapped his massive right hand around mine in a firm grip that he didn't release until we finished our brief conversation.   Since I was obviously just out of college he asked me where I had gone to school, I told him that I had attended UK.  He responded that he went to Wake Forest but quickly added that "I didn't finish."  I offered that I think things will work out for him, and he laughed heartily, and wished me well and thanked me for coming.  Wow.

As his playing career wound down, but his popularity did not waver in the least, Arnold began to devote more and more time to charitable work, donating large sums to hospitals for women and children in the Orlando area, where he lived as an adult.  A wonderful man and a fine ambassador for the game of golf, Arnold's 1975 Ryder Cup golf bag was on display at last week's Ryder Cup matches and just about everyone I saw during the event was wearing a pin signifying Arnold's umbrella logo.  May he rest in peace.

Speaking of the Ryder Cup, it again belongs to the United States, thanks to some very good play and a raucous environment in Chaska, Minnesota last week.  In recent years the U.S. team won in 1999, 2008 and this year.  Here's hoping the next win doesn't take as long.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Vin Scully, who broadcast for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years, did his final game on Sunday.  I didn't care for Vin for a long time, having grown up a Reds-loving Dodger-hater and being unable to distinguish between the team and its voice.  But in later years I gained an appreciation and admiration for him and his talent.  On many occasions if I happened to be traveling by car late at night, I would often find a Dodger game on satellite radio, just to hear him work.  He always viewed the broadcasting of baseball games as a conversation with the fan listening, and spoke in that manner.  There are a lot of people who'll miss those conversations starting next season.

I also want to express my sadness at the sudden death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez just over a week ago.  Much has been said and written about this young man, who escaped Cuba with his mother to become a dominant major league pitcher.  He is already missed.

My last posting predated the first presidential debate, but let me just add to the chorus by saying that the debate and outcome were about what I would have expected.  The VP candidates go at it tonight so that may prove interesting.

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