Ed Lucas, Blind Baseball Chronicler, Dies at 82

The New York Giants had just won the 1951 pennant. Bobby ThomsonHe’s running at home against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Polo Court 12-year-old Ed Lucas walks out of his Jersey City apartment in the late afternoon to play baseball with his friends.

He was rarely asked to shoot because of his poor eyesight – he was legally blind – some of the other kids picked up the bump when he got home. He put down his thick glasses—none of his favorite major league pitchers wore glasses, so why would he? – and with all his might he opened a curtain.

The dough wobbled. The ball landed between Eddie’s eyes.

“Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Tale of Overcoming Life,” he wrote, “The twilight of October afternoon shattered my fragile vision of a makeshift baseball diamond as a white horseskin globe.” Obstacles” (2015, with son Christopher). “The pain was unbearable. Bright flashes blocked my view.”

His retinas were severed and his vision got worse. He went completely blind on a day he will always remember: December 11, 1951, when Joe DiMaggio retired.

Despite not being able to see the diamond or the players on it, Mr. Lucas’ love of the game remained undiminished and featured in a long career as a baseball writer in New Jersey newspapers; as a radio broadcaster; and as a contributor to the Yankees’ YES Network website, for which he received a New York Emmy Award in 2009.

He died on November 10 at a hospital in Livingston, NJ. He was 82 years old and lived in nearby Union. Christopher Lucas said the cause was pulmonary fibrosis.

While Mr. Lucas is recovering from a failed surgery to reattach his retinas, his mother, Rosanna (Furey) Lucas, tried to lift Eddie’s spirits by writing letters to the Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers in hopes that their players, coaches, and broadcasters would offer to get together. and encourage it. Leo Durocher The Giants’ manager was among the first to respond, inviting Eddie to the Polo Fields next season.

When her mother learned that Yankees short guy Phil Rizzuto was working at a menswear store in Newark, NJ, in the off-season, she and her husband, Edward Sr., took Eddie to see him (and buy a suit). ) in November 1951; a friendship that lasted Rizzuto’s death 56 years later.

Edward Joseph Lucas Jr. was born premature on January 3, 1939, in Jersey City, NJ; Insufficient oxygen had weakened his eyes, and he needed surgery to treat glaucoma and cataracts.

His father worked various jobs at The New York Times, including waiter, docker and press member; her mother worked as a cashier and stockist in an A. & P. ​​supermarket.

After Eddie went blind, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind and the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind (now New York Institute for Special Education) in the Bronx. At the institute, he formed a group of baseball fans who asked players to talk to his class; Among those who accepted were Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle.

he joined Seton Hall University, He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1962. While a student there, he hosted a show on campus radio station WSOU that included interviews with baseball personalities.

Credit…through the Lucas family

Mr. Lucas is often asked how a blind man can hide a baseball. He spoke of a “unique sensory experience” – the ability to detect where a ball hits by listening to the crack of the stick.

“He knew whether it was a ball going to the right field or a ball going to the short-court,” said Harvey Zucker, former sports editor of The Jersey Journal, who often accompanied Mr. Lucas to games.

Mr. Lucas’ work first appeared as a high school stringer on The Hudson Dispatch in 1958. He wrote as a freelance writer for the newspaper until the mid-1960s, then began writing a column for The Journal. His last column came out in July. He also contributed to Yankees Magazine.

Mr. Lucas did not rely on individual accounts in his writings or radio work. Instead, he focused on interviewing actors he was most friends with, such as Mantle, Barry Bonds, Bernie Williams, and Dave Righetti.

After graduating from Seton Hall, he was disappointed when he couldn’t get a job as a sports reporter. So he got a job as an insurance salesman and later as director of public relations at Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital in Secaucus, NJ, and in St. Joseph’s Home as an ambassador, fundraiser, and board member.

In the 1980s, when the baseball business finally became a full-time occupation, WMCA-AM had a weekly radio show that aired during the baseball season.

He married Margaret Geraghty in 1965 and they had two sons, Edward and Christopher, but he left the family in 1972, prompting Mr. Lucas’ sister Maureen and her husband, Jimmy, to move in with Mr. Lucas to help him. he did. take care of men. Mr. Lucas and his wife divorced in 1973.

In 1979, his ex-wife successfully sued for custody of the children. Facing long odds as a blind man, he regained custody on appeal in the Hudson County Supreme Court.

“I knew I was a good father,” he told The Record of Hackensack, NJ in 1980.

Mr. Lucas did most of his baseball work at Yankee Stadium, sat next to him in the press box on opening day of 1976, told him to remove the transistor radio and headphones he needed to follow the games, and gave him a personal game. -playing.

Thirty years later, Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner gave his consent when Mr. Lucas requested that he be allowed to marry Allison Pfeifle on the Yankee Stadium field a month before opening day. Steinbrenner paid for a dinner for 350 people at the stadium.

“To quote Mr. Gehrig,” Ms. Lucas said at a press conference after the ceremony, “I truly consider ourselves to be the two luckiest people in the world.”

In addition to his son Christopher, Mr. Lucas is survived by his wife, other son Eddie, and three grandchildren.

One day in 1965, Mr. Lucas was interviewing Ron Swoboda, then a rookie outfielder for the Mets, and asked him how he had lost his sight.

“When I told him about my childhood accident,” Mr. Lucas wrote in his autobiography, “he asked if anyone was taking me to a major league ballpark to get a closer look at it. I said no. I spent the next 45 minutes running my hand over the outfield wall, tapping the bases, and the length of the warning path. I walked with Ron, who helped me see Shea better by going all the way through.”

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