It is a light week with the All Star break, so I have decided to take a little break and go on the light side myself.
We go light, especially with the NFL players still trying to suck the marrow out of the bone with little regard for the lowly workers, the nobody cares NBA in a lockout and the entire world going to hell in a hand basket.
Our own leaders can’t even get together on anything, including light bulbs. So let’s look at two things that just may put us in a little better mood.
I was reading was about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the great basketball player from UCLA and the Lakers. For our young readers out there his given name before becoming a Muslim was Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor Jr.
Well, Kareem – mind you a Muslim – is in Israel making a movie in honor of a promise his father – who was an American solider in WW II – made when he liberated a concentration camp.
His father lifted up this little starving child and held him in his hands. This kid turned out to be Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau of Tel Aviv. The Rabbi and Kareem will meet in the Holy Land for the first time and work on making this movie to educate the world about the horrors of the Holocaust.
I think that is a good motivating story and wish them both well.
My second story is about one of my favorite and most colorful baseball players, Yogi Berra, who played in many All Star games. If you have never heard Yogi talk he is just one of a kind for a kid that did not finished high school.
Yogi was invited to give a commencement speech at St. Louis University back in 2007 and these are just a few of his moving statements.
“Thank you all for being here tonight. I know this is a busy time of year, and if you weren’t here, you could probably be somewhere else. I especially want to thank the administration at St. Louis University for making this day necessary. It is an honor to receive this honorary degree.
“It is wonderful to be here in St. Louis and to visit the old neighborhood. I haven’t been back since the last time I was here. Everything looks the same, only different. Of course, things in the past are never as they used to be.
“Before I speak, I have something I’d like to say. As you may know, I never went to college, or high school for that matter. To be honest, I’m not much of a public speaker, so I will try to keep this short as long as I can.
“As I look out upon all of the young people here tonight, there are a number of words of wisdom I might depart. But I think the most irrelevant piece of advice I can pass along is this: The most important things in life are the things that are the least important.
“I could have gone a number of directions in my life. Growing up on the Hill, I could have opened a restaurant or a bakery. But the more time I spent in places like that, the less time I wanted to spend there.
“I knew that if I wanted to play baseball, I was going to have to play baseball. My childhood friend, Joe Garagiola, also became a big-league ballplayer, as did my son, Dale. I think you’ll find the similarities in our careers are quite different.
“Of course, times were different. To be honest, I was born at an early age. Things are much more confiscated now. It seems like a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore. But let me tell you, if the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be. Even Napoleon had his Watergate.
“Over the years, I have realized that baseball is really just a menopause for life. We all have limitations, but we also know limitation is the greatest form of flattery. Beauty is in the eyes of Jim Holder (St. Louis sports reporter).
“As parents you’ll want to give your children all the things you didn’t have. But don’t buy them an encyclopedia, make them walk to school like you did. Teach them to have respect for others, especially the police. They are not here to create disorder, they are here to preserve it.
“Throughout my career, I found good things always came in pairs of three. There will be times when you are an overwhelming underdog. Give 100 percent to everything you do, and when that’s not enough, give everything you have left. Winning isn’t everything, but it’s better than rheumatism. I think Guy Lombardo said that.
“Finally, dear graduates and friends, cherish this moment; it is a memory you will never forget. You have your entire future ahead of you. Good luck and Bob’s speed.”
I think we should send Yogi to D.C!