Ed Lucas

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For the baseball player, see Ed Lucas (baseball).

Edward Lucas is an Emmy winning broadcaster, author, and motivational speaker. He has interviewed thousands of sports figures and celebrities over a career spanning seven decades. Lucas been inducted into three different Halls of Fame.

Early life[edit]

On October 3, 1951, after watching the New York Giants defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the National League Pennant on a tiny little black and white TV, Ed Lucas, who was just twelve years old, went out to play baseball with his friends. He was struck in face by a line drive and subsequently lost his sight.

Ed was depressed. He pictured himself as a helpless soul standing on a street corner with a cup and a cane selling pencils. His mother did two things that changed his life.

First, she enrolled him in a revolutionary school for the blind run by nuns who believed that blind people could do anything they set out to do if they could just learn to be independent and have to self-confidence.[1]

Second, she wrote letters to Leo Durocher, the manager of the NY Giants, and to Bobby Thomson, the home run hero, explaining what had happened to Ed, and how his love of baseball was the only thing lifting his spirits. Durocher invited Ed to be his guest at the Polo Grounds for the 1952 season. Yankees star Phil Rizzuto, who worked at a New Jersey clothing shop in the off season, heard about Ed’s story, and also befriended him.[1] This friendship lasted a lifetime, until Phil Rizzuto's death in 2007.[2]

After graduating from grammar school, Ed attended the New York Institute for the Blind where he organized a baseball club called the Diamond Dusters. Major League stars such as Jackie Robinson and Lindy McDaniel visited the school to talk baseball and to read the sports pages to the students.[3]

Lucas enrolled in Seton Hall University, earning a degree in communications in 1962.[4] He was one of the first blind students in the country to regularly attend classes with a Seeing Eye Dog.

While at Seton Hall Ed started taking a reel-to-reel tape recorder to games to interview players. He had his own radio show, "Around the Bases With Ed Lucas" on WSOU, one of the premiere college radio stations in the United States.[5]

Marriage, fatherhood, and custody battle[edit]

In October 1965, Lucas got married.[1] Shortly after that, two sons - Edward M. Lucas and Christopher Lucas - were born. In 1972, his wife walked out on the marriage, leaving Ed alone with two little boys to raise. His family pitched in to help. At the same time, the New York Yankees were starting to regain prominence, so his workload became heavier. Ed still managed to balance both lives, while buying a larger house for his boys, his mother and sister.[citation needed]

In September 1979, after seven years, Lucas' former wife filed a motion seeking custody of their sons. The courts agreed, taking Ed's children away from him, simply because he was disabled. He was told to just drop the case and forget about the boys.

Lucas went to court to and fought a long appeal, as his case made its way up to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On September 25, 1980, Lucas was awarded full and complete custody of his children, making legal history as he became one of the first disabled people in the United States to win back custody of their children from a non-disabled spouse on appeal and one of the few males to ever succeed in a custody case, up to that point.[6]

Career[edit]

After graduating from college, it took Ed a while to establish himself as a professional broadcaster. As a blind person trying to make his way in a business traditionally limited to the sighted, Lucas faced many challenges. He was able to prove himself with freelance jobs for local and national television and radio stations, but many of his peers at the time in the media corps bristled at the inclusion of a person who cannot see the games he's broadcasting in their ranks. They accused Ed's employers of hiring him just for show.

Ed ignored the doubters and pressed on. He eventually earned the respect of his interview subjects and his fellow reporters by taking a different approach, often focused on describing things that sighted people take for granted.

Lucas is now one of the elder statesmen in the Press Box, frequently called on by younger reporters for advice and information.

He also set a record in 2015 by attending his 60th straight Yankee Stadium home opener as a member of the press, a streak that began in 1956. Ed eclipsed former Yankee P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard's streak of 56 straight.

On April 21, 2015, Simon & Schuster and Derek Jeter Publishing released Ed's autobiography, "Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story." A feature film based on Ed's life is also in pre-production. http://EdLucasOnline.com

Marriage at home plate in Yankee Stadium[edit]

In the late 1980s, Lucas was introduced by Phil Rizzuto to Allison Pfeifle, his florist, who was also legally blind. After a long courtship, Lucas married Allison at home plate in Yankee Stadium on March 10, 2006. This was the first time that anyone was allowed to be married in that hallowed spot.[7][8]

Honors and recognition[edit]

In 1995, Lucas was inducted into the New Jersey Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame, alongside a class that included Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Theismann and Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Doby.

Inspired by, and together with, his late friend Phil Rizzuto, Lucas has helped to raise millions of dollars, through the Ed Lucas Foundation, to help disabled people all over the world. After Mr. Rizzuto's passing in 2007, Yankee legend Gene Michael joined Ed in his charitable efforts.

In 2001, Ed was honored to be chosen, along with his son, as one of the people to carry the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics flame through the streets of New York City on its way to the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center in conjunction at Seton Hall University sponsored an exhibit of photographs and memorabilia from Ed's career in the Walsh Library Arcade from August to November 2007.[9]

In 2008, Seton Hall, with the support of WCBS 880 AM, the Yankees Radio Network, created Strikeouts for Scholarships, a scholarship program for disabled students in honor of Ed Lucas.[10]

In 2008-2009, Lucas won an Emmy Award for his work with the YES Network.[11][12]

In 1952, Ed Lucas was inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame,[13] along with longtime Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, broadcaster Vin Scully, sluggers Steve Garvey and Paul O'Neill, and umpire Jim Joyce.

References[edit]

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