Baseball has taken my sight, but given me a life.
Blind sportswriter Ed Lucas reflects on remarkable career
On Oct. 3, 1951, New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” – the famed game-winning homer that sent the Giants to the World Series.
Watching from home on a 12-inch screen was a boy with his father. The boy was so excited he went to go play ball with his friends. A few minutes later, he was struck by a line drive.
Ed Lucas has been blind ever since.
Despite his disability, Lucas was determined to make a life for himself in the game that he loved. He attended Seton Hall University to become a sportswriter and broadcaster. He landed a job covering the New York Yankees on a daily basis for several newspapers. Lucas, along with his son Christopher, recently wrote a book detailing stories from Ed’s life and career as baseball’s first blind sportswriter: “Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story.”
Though he couldn’t see the game, Lucas was able to develop skills to help him cover it. “After I lost my sight, I was able to tell by the crack of the bat, where the ball was hit most of the times,” Ed said.
The Lucas family stopped by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown in 2015 to promote the book and tell stories as part of the Museum’s Author Series.
During the presentation, the pair shared moments from Lucas’ personal and professional life. Christopher would tell the stories with Ed interjecting comments along the way.
Ed credits much of his success to Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto – who he met at a young age and served as both a friend and inspiration to Lucas. Rizzuto was both a confidant as well as a pal for Lucas, helping him in both good days and bad.
“He was my best friend in life, he was always there for me,” Lucas said. “He was my greatest PR guy at the time before I got into baseball because he’d always mention my name on the air. He told me not to listen to the naysayers; he didn’t listen to ’em.”
Throughout his life, and into his career, Lucas endeared himself to a number of Hall of Famers. Among them, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.
In fact, at one point, DiMaggio even assisted Lucas by giving him the play-by-play of a game, rather than have him listen to it through headphones.
In addition, Ed talked about being taught how to golf by Bob Hope and being invited to play by Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra.
“I said: ‘Let’s do it Thursday night midnight’ and Yogi said he wouldn’t be able to see,” Lucas said. “I figured that would make us even!”
One of the most poignant stories during the Hall of Fame event that Lucas shared was an interaction he had with Mantle when he was a young boy. Lucas and one of his friends from camp went to a Yankees game with the hope of meeting the Hall of Famer. Lucas and his friend, who was deaf, blind and mute, were able to meet The Mick prior to the game.
Upon meeting Mantle, the friend was ecstatic and began finger spelling Mantle’s name into Lucas’ hand over and over. He was chanting.
Mantle was so overcome with emotion by the moment that he eventually stepped away. One of the most popular players in baseball at the time was reduced to tears.
Ed told so many stories that the one about getting married on home plate at Yankee Stadium seemed like the tip of the iceberg.
“If your spouse is a baseball fan, that’s the biggest diamond you can give them,” his son joked.
While they toured the country to promote the book, Ed and his son’s already close relationship strengthened even more.
“We always had a strong bond as I was growing up, but writing a book and sharing stories with your father, it can’t help but make that bond stronger,” Christopher said. “I get to take a road trip with my dad. It’s amazing.”
Christopher had the idea to start the book as a way to tell his father’s story to the world and inspire anyone dealing with hardship.
And what a story it is to tell.
“Baseball has taken my sight,” Ed Lucas said, “but given me a life.”
Ryan Turnquist was a public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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