|How Baseball Changed This Man’s Life|
Written by Laura K. Nist (Contact & Archive) on June 25, 2003
Ed interviewing Bobby Murcer
You may be asking yourself how does a blind man report on baseball games. Ed hasn’t always been blind. Even though he was born with a congenital eye disease he was able to see. He had a love of baseball from a very young age, as both of his parents were fans of the Giants – that is the NY Giants, prior to their move west. As a matter of fact the last game that Ed saw was the 1951 thriller in which Bobby Thomson hit the “shot heard ‘round the world”. He was twelve years old. He came home from school and watched it on TV with his family. After the game he went outside to play baseball in the nearby sandlot and was hit between the eyes with a baseball. Shortly afterwards, he lost his sight – partially due to the eye disease that he was born with, although doctors believe that being hit in the head with a baseball may have also contributed in the loss.
Initially, when Ed lost his eyesight he thought it was the end of the world. The image of blind people that he had in his mind was that of a panhandler on the streets of New York or New Jersey, selling newspapers or pencils. Ed did not know what would happen to him or what a blind person could do. Several things transpired that helped bring meaning back to his life.
Ed was a Giants fan and much to the chagrin of his father he also loved the Yankees. Up until the days of free agency many players had part-time jobs in the off-season so that they could support their families. Somehow, Ed’s mother discovered that Phil Rizzuto was working at a men’s clothing store in New Jersey and she took Ed there so that he could meet one of his Yankee idols. Phil took an interest in Ed and encouraged him. Ed’s mother, Rosanna, also sent a letter to Leo Durocher who at the time was the manager of the NY Giants. Durocher invited him to the Polo Grounds to meet the team and he also became friends with Russ Hodges.
The other event that helped to shape his life was meeting a nun while walking down the street with his mother. She told them of a local school, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind, and encouraged them to search it out. Later that year Ed was enrolled in this special school and learning that blind people can do many things.
After two years he graduated from St. Joseph’s and enrolled at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. Because of Ed’s love for baseball he created a club while he was at school, which he called Diamond Dusters. Once a week celebrities such as Jackie Robinson, Lindy McDaniel, Russ Hodges and many others would come to the school to talk about baseball and read the newspapers to the blind students. It was during this time that Ed began writing about baseball. Accompanied by his uncle he attended many games; he carted around a large reel-to-reel tape recorder and began interviewing players whenever he could.
After graduating from high school Ed attended Seton Hall University and was conferred with a degree in communications. For four years he worked at a local radio station and had his own show “Around the bases with Ed Lucas”.
All of these years later Ed is still reporting on baseball games; he attends quite a few Yankees and Mets home games. So, how does he do it? He does not do the play by play although he does have the uncanny ability to determine where a hit ball will go just by the sound it makes coming off of the bat. Ed’s method is this – he sits in the press box and listens to the local radio broadcast of the game. Then after the game he goes to the field or the locker room or press area and interviews players about what happened during the game – perhaps an extraordinary play or call or any incident that may have been out of the ordinary. He adds his notes to the tape and sends it in to someone that types and submits it for him. He has had articles published in many newspapers and magazines.
Ed has had the opportunity to meet many famous baseball personalities. Some of his favorites are Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ron Guidry, Lindy McDaniel, Dave Righetti, Monte Irvin, Alvin Dark, Bobby Thomson and many more. There is no way to name all of them and if you ask him he will not pick just one favorite. He has nice things to say about everyone he has met – including Barry Bonds, who many members of the media have taken a disliking to. Ed has known the Bonds family for years and says that Barry has always gone out of his way to be nice or to help him in any way that he can.
Of course, there have been challenges along the way. Some of the players are uncomfortable talking with him or do not know how to approach him. One time he was interviewing Willie Mays and didn’t realize that he was blocking the AP photographer, who was working under a tight deadline, from getting a picture. But for the most part Ed has had many positive experiences.
And after all of these years Ed still counts Phil Rizzuto as one of his closest friends. As a matter of fact, Phil hosts a celebrity golf tournament every year to benefit St. Joseph’s School, where Ed is now employed as the Director of Development and Public Education. Together they have raised over a million dollars in the past twelve years. *
Ed certainly has come a long way from that scared twelve-year old boy. Isn’t it amazing how baseball can change your life?
Ed Lucas (right) with mentor and friend, Yankee great - Phil Rizzuto
* St. Joseph's School for the Blind in Jersey City, NJ is having their 13th Annual Phil Rizzuto Celebrity-Charity Golf Classic on Monday, August 18, 2003 at the Brooklake Country Club, Florham Park, NJ. The theme this year is the 100th Anniversary of the New York Yankees: 1903-2003. There are 2 Shot Guns - morning & afternoon. We are also having a Cocktail Party, Dinner, Silent & Live Auctions & Scooter Awards. Reservations must be made as space is limited. Please contact Ed Lucas at 201-653-0578, to find out how to be a part of this great event! http://www.eteamz.com/golf/tournaments/tournament.cfm/303669/
Photos courtesy of Bill Menzel