Ed Lucas

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Edward Lucas is a sports writer, broadcaster and motivational speaker. As a reporter for the New York Mets and the New York Yankees, Lucas has covered the playoffs, the World Series and the All Star games. He has interviewed hundred of sports figures and celebrities over a career spanning six decades. Lucas has worked as a syndicated radio personality and columnist and has been inducted into the New Jersey Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. In 2008 Seton Hall University, with the support of WCBS 880 AM — the Yankees Radio Network created Strikeouts for Scholarships, a scholarship program for disabled students in honor of Ed Lucas.citation needed

Early life

On October 3, 1951, after watching the New York Giants defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the National League Pennant, Ed Lucas, a boy of twelve, went out to play baseball with his friends. He was struck in face by a line drive and subsequently lost his sight. Depressed and scared about his future as a blind person, Ed pictured himself as a helpless soul standing on the corner with a cup and a cane selling pencils. His mother did two things that changed his life. First, she enrolled him in a revolutionary school for the blind run by nuns who believed that blind people could do anything they set out to do if they could just learn to be independent and have to self-confidence.1

At the same time, his mother wrote letters to Leo Durocher, the manager of the NY Giants, and to Bobby Thomson, the home run hero, explaining what had happened to Ed, and how his love of baseball was the only thing lifting his spirits. Durocher invited Ed to be his guest at the Polo Grounds for the 1952 season. Yankees star Phil Rizzuto, who worked at a New Jersey clothing shop in the off season, heard about Ed’s story, and also befriended him.1 This friendship lasted a lifetime, until Phil Rizzuto's death in 2007.citation needed

After graduating from grammar school, Ed attended the New York Institute for the Blind where he organized a baseball club called the Diamond Dusters. Major League stars such as Jackie Robinson and Lindy McDaniel visited the school to talk baseball and to read the sports pages to the students.citation needed

Lucas enrolled in Seton Hall University, earning a degree in communications in 1962.2 He was one of the first blind students in the country to do so. While at Seton Hall Ed started taking a reel-to-reel tape recorder to games to interview players. He had his own radio show, "Around the Bases With Ed Lucas" on WSOU, one of the premiere college radio stations in the United States.citation needed

Marriage, fatherhood, and custody battle

In October 1965, Lucas got married.1 Shortly after that, two sons - Edward M. Lucas and Christopher Lucas - were born. In 1972, his wife walked out on the marriage, leaving him alone with two little boys to raise. His family who pitched in and helped him with the housekeeping and child rearing duties. At the same time, the New York Yankees were starting to regain prominence, and his workload became heavier. Ed still managed to balance both lives, while buying a larger house for his boys, his mother and sister.citation needed

In September 1979, after seven years, Lucas' ex-wife came back and announced that she was seeking full and complete custody of their sons. Lucas went to court to and fought a long custody battle, as the case made its way up to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On September 25, 1980, Lucas was awarded full custody of his children, becoming first disabled person in the United States history win custody of children from a non-disabled spouse.3

Career

After graduating from college Ed Lucas was able to land coveted print and broadcast jobs covering the major league teams in New York City. As a blind baseball reporter Lucas faced many challenges. He developed an ability to determine where a hit ball will go just by the sound it makes coming off of the bat. Lucas typically sat in the press box and listened to the local radio broadcast of the game. Then after the game he went on to the field, to the locker room or press area and interviewed players about what happened during the game – perhaps an extraordinary play or call or any incident that may have been out of the ordinary.citation needed

Lucas has had the opportunity to interview many athletes and sports figures including Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti, Willie Mays, Tommy Lasorda, Jorge Posada, Frank Robinson, Orel Hershiser, Thurman Munson, Darryl Strawberry, Willie Randolph, to name just a few. Ed has also interviewed celebrities and politicians including Rudy Giuliani, President Bill Clinton, Gov. Brendan Byrne, Robin Williams, Ron Howard, and Penny Marshall.

Together with his late friend Phil Rizzuto, Lucas has helped to raise millions of dollars to help disabled people all over the world. He established the Ed Lucas Foundation to continue the work that he began with Rizzuto.citation needed

Marriage at home plate in Yankee Stadium

In the late 1980s, Lucas was introduced by Phil Rizzuto to Allison Pfeifle, his florist, who was also legally blind. After a long courtship, Lucas married Allison at home plate in Yankee Stadium on March 10, 2006. This was the first time that anyone was allowed to be married in that hallowed spot.45

Honors and recognition

In 1995, Lucas was inducted into the New Jersey Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame, alongside a class that included Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Theismann and Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Doby. In 2001, Ed was honored to be chosen, along with his sons, as one of the inspirational people to carry the Olympic flame through the streets of New York City on its way to the 2002 Winter Olympics.citation needed

The Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center in conjunction at Seton Hall University sponsored an exhibit of photographs and memorabilia from Ed's career in the Walsh Library Arcade from August to November 2007.citation needed

Seton Hall, with the support of WCBS 880 AM, the Yankees Radio Network, created Strikeouts for Scholarships, a scholarship program for disabled students in honor of Ed Lucas.citation needed

In 2008-2009, Lucas won an Emmy Award for his work with YESNetwork.com.6 Lucas has a show with the network's website, The Ed Lucas Show, in which he discusses stories of adversity with different players and celebrities.citation needed

On July 7, 2009, Ed Lucas was inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame,7 along with longtime Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, broadcaster Vin Scully, sluggers Steve Garvey and Paul O'Neill, and umpire Jim Joyce.

References

  1. ^ a b c Dotson, Bob (April 12, 2006). "Baseball a field of dreams for blind reporter". Today.
  2. ^ Matthews, Jill (September 17, 2008). "'As He Sees It' The Baseball Life of Ed Lucas". Seton Hall University.
  3. ^ Walk, John (July 28, 2011). "Ed Lucas, well-known sports journalist and speaker, comes to York". ForSight Vision.
  4. ^ Coyne, Kevin (March 18, 2007). "Baseball Stole His Eyes, but Not His Passion". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Dotson, Bob (April 12, 2006). "Baseball a field of dreams for blind reporter". Today.
  6. ^ "Ed Lucas". Premiere Speakers Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  7. ^ Zucker, Harvey (July 5, 2009). "Hudson's Ed Lucas named to Irish-American Baseball Hall of Fame". NJ.com. Retrieved 2011-01-26. 

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