Tuesday, I had the chance to make a S.C.O.R.E day appearance with Trevor Hoffman at Lincoln Elementary in Wauwatosa. My message to the students is to make sure they know they are special. Each of them has a unique set of gifts and talents that can make them successful. I always leave them with one phrase: “What makes you special…does not make you special!” I’m no great sage but I try to make sure they realize that despite special talents, none of us should expect special treatment. It’s important to think about others, to be respectful and appreciate the opportunities we are given.
Living in the fantasy world of Major League Baseball, this message is sometimes easier to hear than believe. Not with Trevor Hoffman as the headliner, however. What an impressive individual. As I told the Lincoln students, here is a man who has a gift that has allowed him to achieve more saves than any player in the history of baseball. He’s a lock for the Hall of Fame. He’s spent nearly two decades performing at a very high level and making an impact on his community both on and off the field. Despite his accomplishments, he doesn’t require special treatment. On this day, Trevor was the first one there, he always shows up on time. He signed autographs, took pictures and did it with a smile. He’s one of those individuals that is as respectful to the batboy as he is the owner.
His message to the students was thoughtful and deep. He spoke for nearly an hour and you could tell he prepared his message at length. I couldn’t help think how rare his character is in this “look at me” society.
Hoffman is an “above and beyond” guy. That applies to his baseball career and it certainly applied to his message to the students Tuesday at Lincoln Elementary. Kudos to Trevor. Kudos to Katina Shaw, Larry Hisle and the Brewers players. Every player made an appearance at a local school Tuesday on behalf of the S.C.O.R.E. program. It’s the one day we bring attention to a great program that operates every week of every year and creates a unique connection between the town’s team and the town’s schools.
It is still hard to believe that only six decades ago, an African-American player in an MLB lineup was news. As you watch games and see all of those “42′s” throughout 15 ballparks Wednesday, remember the athlete, the soldier, the great man who changed the game and the country.
If you’d like to listen to Jackie Robinson’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech click here. He had every right to stand up there all day and empty out his tank. Instead, after all of two minutes and 42 seconds, he apologizes for taking so much time. He always knew what to say and he always knew when he didn’t have to say anything at all. Thank God for Jackie Robinson!
Sad news from Washington: The great voice of the Phillies, Harry Kalas, has passed away. I was told he collapsed in the press box at Nationals Stadium around Noon (CST) and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at a nearby hospital.
“We lost Harry today,” David Montgomery, the team president, said. “We lost our voice.”
Mr. Kalas was 73.
This is a great loss. Aside from his legendary status as an announcer, Mr. Kalas was always very generous with his time for young announcers. He always offered great advice to me. In 2007, my first year in the big leagues, I had the pleasure of dining with Mr. Kalas in Philadelphia. We had a long talk about broadcasting and living the life of a Major League play-by-play man. He welcomed me “to the club” and offered some encouraging words after watching a few Brewers telecasts. He told me, “No matter how popular you get, no matter how long you’ve been in one place, none of us are bigger than the game. Always keep it about the game and you’ll be A-OK.”Hearing that from a Hall of Famer (2002) means a great deal and I will never forget our talks every time the Brewers faced the Phillies.
Mr. Kalas, an Illinois native, leaves us where he was most at home, in the broadcast booth.
Pat Hughes of Cubs Radio, produced a terrific audio documentary on Harry Kalas, I highly recommend you log onto Baseball Voices if you want a special way to remember the great voice of the Phillies.
Mr. Kalas will be missed by all baseball fans, especially those in the broadcasting fraternity.