Jeter Publishing (Simon & Schuster)
- 320 pages. Genre: Biography
Collier County Public Library: Yes
“Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra
Well, sports fans, baseball is back! The first few weeks are always glorious because there are no deep disappointments yet and hopes are high. Boston won the World Series in 2013, so why shouldn’t Cubs fans think “Maybe next year” is THIS year? Did Back To The Future 2 writers get it right with “Cubs sweep Miami five games to win 2015?” Maybe so, but the writers, one a Cardinal fan and the other a White Sox fan, were going for a big-time joke, something to startle Marty McFly (and the audience) as he transited to 2015 from 1989. Miami didn’t have a franchise when the movie was made, so half of the writers’ prediction has already come about. We will revisit this idea in October.
In the meanwhile, Seeing Home is the tender story of an authentic baseball fan who surmounted huge obstacles to stay part of the game after an accident left him sightless. It is a perfect read to get any fan back into a baseball frame of mind, packed with anecdotes about baseball’s greats back to the 1940s. It is also a great read for anyone interested in human nature.
At the age of 12, Ed Lucas was playing a pickup game with his Jersey City neighborhood pals when he was struck between the eyes by a ball. Ed had been born prematurely and the oxygen in his incubator was not properly administered, so he incurred damage to his eyes. He had multiple surgeries before his third birthday. His mother was never pleased with his baseball playing because of his precarious visual condition, but she did not forbid it, either. After his accident, and a long recuperation from yet another eye surgery, his parents refused to accept the label of handicapped and conveyed to him that his lack of sight was an inconvenience. Their deep religious faith enabled them to accept reality and look for options that would help their son succeed in life. Their faith was genuine. They prayed as if everything depended on God and worked as if everything depended on them. Ed and his sister Maureen were raised to get on with life – no wallowing allowed.
About half of the book deals with Ed’s early life, up to his first seeing-eye dog Kay, the only female ever admitted to Seton Hall at that time. He does not flinch from describing the rejection and outright insensitivity he encountered in job hunting as a blind person. Even with his degree from Seton Hall and glowing academic and personal references, when he showed upfor job interviews, the shock and incredulity were palpable. Finally he found employment seeing insurance policies but simultaneously looked for a way to pursue his interest in broadcasting in baseball.
Ed married a woman named Delilah, had two sons, Ed Jr. and Christopher, with her and came one day to find her waiting with a suitcase for a taxi to take her to a new life. She told him to keep the boys because they would only hold her back from becoming the person she was meant to be. After their divorce, she remarried, had six children and then sued Ed for custody of their sons, then 11 and 13 years old. The judge ruled that a blind man was not fit to have full custody of children and granted him visitation one weekend a month. Nothing was mentioned of the six years that Ed had raised the boys. The judge did not let one of Ed’s many character witnesses speak. When he appealed the decision and the verdict restored full custody to Ed, it was the first time that a disabled person had prevailed over an able-bodied person in such a case.
Seeing Home is a tender, funny, sweet, hopeful story, a perfect read for Spring and the beginning of baseball season. It does get just a little saccharine in spots, but Ed Lucas’ love of life, family, baseball, and his open fun-loving nature are the overarching themes that come through. Ed’s almost life-long relationship with Phil and Cora Rizzuto is covered extensively, secondary only to his parents. I laughed out loud at the witty repartee Ed had with the baseball players throughout the decades of his career. I was surprised at the tenderheartedness of Mickey Mantle, marveled that Joe DiMaggio sat next to Ed and gave him a play-by-play of an entire ball game. It was touching to see the human side of so many celebrities that most of us only see on TV or at the ball park. Ed is the kind of person who in his 60s still had many of his friends from grade school in his life. His “Acknowledgements” section in the book is pages long – he did not want to leave out anyone.
The book will be published on April 21, 2015, but can be pre-ordered and will be available at the major vendors in hardcover and e-book editions. CCPL is currently taking requests. My rating: 4.0/5.0.
Maggie Gust has been an avid reader all her life. Her past includes working as a teacher as well as various occupations in the health care field. She shares a hometown with Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, but Florida has been her home since 1993. Genealogy, walking on the beach, reading, movies and writing, are among her pursuits outside of work. She is self employed and works from her Naples home.