On March 10, 2006, Ed Lucas was married for the second time in his long and fascinating life. His marriage was notable not because he was a blind sportswriter in his sixties who had made a living describing sports to the masses, but because it happened on home plate at Yankee Stadium. A sportswriting giant who sits in three different Halls of Fame, Lucas' career stretches back to the 1960s, and his life illustrates that determination makes everything possible.
Lucas grew up in a New York Giants household in Clinton Hill, and when Bobby Thomson smacked the Shot Heard 'Round the World to win the 1951 NL Pennant, he was the happiest 12 year old boy in the world. He celebrated with a game of baseball with his friends, and would up getting his in the face with a line drive, costing him his sight. Cruelly ironic circumstances took his vision, but baseball would also prove to be a major catalyst in Lucas' recovery, and eventual career success. After he was enrolled at St. Joseph's School for the Blind in Jersey City, he went on to meet Phil Rizzuto, who eventually became his closest friend throughout his life. From that meeting, Lucas was on a path to prove he could contribute to the national baseball conversation from a young age.
After high school he enrolled at Seton Hall University, where he covered the baseball team for the university's radio station WSOU. After earning his degree, Lucas worked freelance for local radio stations until he proved he was not just a gimmick, and that his passion for covering baseball was unsurpassed. He married early and had two sons, but the union dissolved before long and Lucas was forced to balance his family with his career aspirations while working as communication director at Meadowview Hospital in Secaucus. Lucas pressed on to learn the nuances of the game well enough to describe the game's actions vividly without the aid of vision, and he eventually became one of the first disabled men to win a custody case on appeal.
Lucas has shared countless anecdotes about the game over the years. Here are a few of them that help illustrate his passion for baseball, and the loving assistance he received from those around him because of that passion:
- During an interview, Mets outfielder Ron Swoboda interrupted Lucas to ask whether anyone has ever taken the time to describe to him what Shea Stadium looked like. Swoboda proceeded to walk Lucas around the facility and grounds, pausing so he could feel the outfield wall.
- When he was a boy Lucas once introduced his friend, who was blind, deaf and mute, to Mickey Mantle. Upon meeting one of his favorite players, the friend began to finger spell Mantle's name excitedly into Lucas' hand over and over again. When he realized that the boy was chanting his name, Mantle had to step away so he could cry.
- Billy Martin used to pretend to be Lucas' guide so he could lead him around the clubhouse and eventually into the showers. Martin would turn on the faucets and walk away. Lucas says Martin never admitted it was him, but he could always hear his distinct laugh when he escaped the shower. Lucas also says he loved the hazing because it meant he was truly part of the baseball fraternity, and he appreciated Martin for it.
Happy Anniversary, Ed.