"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - -9/26/15
I had originally planned on devoting this entire column to the great Yogi Berra following his death last week at the age of 90. However, after reading many of the countless columns/articles that have been written since his passing, I ultimately came to the conclusion that there's not much I can add to what's already been penned. Yes--he was a terrific ballplayer, a clutch performer, and a true Yankee/baseball legend. I will add this: What TRULY made me appreciate the greatness of the man was his unassuming, "regular guy" persona. I was lucky enough to speak to the man ONCE in my life--and just for a minute or two; it was like talking to my DAD. You'd never know he was a Hall of Famer and decorated war hero--along with possessing celebrity-like status; his monotone, down-to-earth delivery was simply HIM. You see, THAT's what made Yogi Berra so special; he NEVER tried to be something he was NOT. Yeah--it's called being GENUINE. I guess Lawrence Peter Berra taught me one VERY important lesson over the years: It's not so bad to be "just" a regular guy--no matter WHAT you do in life. Thanks for BEING you, Yogi, and "Dad-like" to so many others. Sincere condolences go out to the entire Berra family; may you rest in peace, sir..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1996 Washington Redskins--who finished 9-7 under coach Norv Turner--were led in receiving yardage by a WR who played SIXTEEN seasons in the NFL. Can you name this former talented player? Answer to follow..........**Crusade alert: I continue to be a strong advocate for Daniel Lucius "Doc" Adams' enshrinement into baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Quite frankly, this is a "no-brainer," folks. Chosen as SABR's Overlooked Nineteenth Century Baseball Legend for 2014, Adams was a HUGE contributor dating back to the game's developmental period in the mid-1800's when he was a player AND executive for the New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club. Among his MANY innovations, he is credited with creating the shortstop position while making the baseballs/overseeing the production of bats for many early clubs. In addition, he was the presiding officer of the first Conventions and Rules Committee; he recommended bases be spaced at 90-feet from one another, advocated for 9 inning games/9 players per side, and was also instrumental in developing the fly-game (eliminating balls that were caught on bounces being counted as "outs"). I was first alerted to "Doc's" many contributions by various members of SABR, along with his great-granddaughter, Marjorie--who currently spends much of her time/efforts telling ANYONE who will listen about her relative's remarkable exploits. Bottom line? "Doc" Adams is HIGHLY-RESPONSIBLE for the way the game of baseball is currently played and remains one of its earliest architects. In all seriousness, I won't sleep soundly until this guy has a plaque hanging in a popular building in upstate New York; his "stamp" remains plastered ALL OVER the game of baseball, folks..........I miss seeing "Gerela's Gorillas" and "Franco's Italian Army" in the stands at the old Pittsburgh Steelers games at Three Rivers Stadium; just sayin'..........*ITEM: Ragnar, the Minnesota Vikings mascot (real name is Joe Juranitch), has no luck negotiating his salary and the team seems to have little interest in having him back on the field. I guess you have to give the Vikings front office credit for their bravery; as far as I know, getting into ANY kind of a squabble with a man wearing horns is usually NOT at the top of ANYONE's priority list..........As a young guy, I used to think that a Ron Guidry slider was the ultimate thing of beauty. That all changed the other day when I saw a picture of Australian model Miranda Kerr wearing a skin-tight white dress as part of a photo series for the October edition of Harper's Bazaar. Holy cow; it's amazing how one's perceptions change as one grows older--right, folks?..........Question: If "brittle" ex-Red Sox teammates Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz were to meet on the streets of NYC this week and "high-five" each other, which player would most likely be injured badly due to a seemingly non-risky, friendly gesture?..........*Scenario: Suppose former Ursinus College lacrosse star Maureen Burger married ex-NBA star Bernard King. Do you think she'd EVER want people to acknowledge her full married name of Maureen Burger King?..........Answer to trivia question: HENRY ELLARD--who caught 52 passes for 1,014 yards; he had almost 14,000 receiving yards in a career that lasted from 1983 to 1998..........Finally, condolences also go out to the family of former NFL coach Richard Williamson--who died recently from a heart condition at the age of 74. Williamson was the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers briefly in the early 90's; he later became an assistant coach for the Carolina Panthers from 1995-2009 (working under Dom Capers, George Siefert, and John Fox). Known for his work with wide receivers, talented players such as Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith benefited greatly from Williamson's tenure with the team. Richard Williamson is survived by his wife, Norma, and two children: Caroline and Rich. Rest in peace, "Coach."