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Life begins at 50
Mickelson with inspirational performance
Good morning, all! I hope you had a terrific weekend!
If you were like me, you watched the amazing performance of Phil Mickelson this weekend, including the scintillating final round of the PGA Championship. I caught the last six holes, after returning home from broadcasting the Hartford Yard Goats game.
So many questions ran through my mind, as “Lefty” became the oldest player to win a major tournament at age 50. Does anyone realize how difficult it is for someone to win a professional golf tournament of the highest caliber at any age, let alone at 50, competing against players some of whom are half his age or more? A golfer must be in a top notch physical and mental state to compete at the highest level for four rounds. Throw in that the golf course on which the tournament was played was extraordinarily tough, and you realize that what we witnessed this weekend was an athletic accomplishment for the ages.
I am not going to psycho analyze the gallery crowding Mickelson as he was swarmed, while walking up the 18th fairway. The fact is, there was no storming of the green or raucous behavior (although I am sure security feared such a scene, as the chanting and swarming grew) during Mickelson’s dramatic fairway saunter.
A part of me believes a nation, and for that matter a world, was exhaling after being cooped up for 14 months. Combine that with witnessing a historic, sporting achievement by one of the world’s beloved athletic figures and you have a better understanding of the scene on 18.
Finally, there is the personable Mickelson himself. Always the competitor with his swashbuckling style, Mickelson was already among the golfing gods with five major tournament victories among his 44 tournament wins, before Sunday. But he was not about to automatically accept that exemption into the U.S. Open next month at Torrey Pines. First he said he wasn’t going to play next month, then he had a change of heart when the U.S.G.A issued its exemption. Now an exemption is no longer required. Mickelson has earned his way into the Open and gains automatic qualifications to several high profile tournaments for the next five years, because of Sunday’s victory. Don’t count him out.
Speaking of elite
On Friday night in the sixth inning of the Seattle-San Diego game, Jose Godoy replaced catcher Tom Murphy for Seattle. In doing so he became the 20,000 player to play in a Major League Baseball game. Some may ask, “Wow, that many have played?” I would ask, “Wow, just 20,000 have played?”
When you think of the millions who have played baseball around the world, from amateurs to pros, with hopes of making it to the big leagues, just 20,000 have made it to the top. Why, that is not even two-thirds of the capacity of one of baseball’s smallest ballparks, Fenway Park. In other words, MLB is the elite of the elite.
As for Murphy, he once was a member of the Colorado Rockies farm system and I still remember interviewing him in the visitor’s dugout, after batting practice, at one of my favorite parks, FNB Field in Harrisburg, PA. Murphy is a class act and part of a small group that can say they were among the few to play in the major leagues.
And speaking of history
We recently passed the anniversary (May 14, 1967) of Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run. Did you know three future managers played in that game between the Yankees and Orioles and that two of them would count New York clubs as teams they managed? Frank Robinson and Dave Johnson played for the Orioles and Dick Howser for the Yankees. Howser would someday count the Yankees, among the clubs he managed and Johnson would count the Mets. Incidentally both Johnson and the late Robinson were managers for the Washington Nationals and Robinson, of course, was the first African American to manager a major league club, the 1975 Cleveland Indians.
Well we are off and running on a new week. As always, thank you for your support and have a terrific week!