“The Washington Senator” by Bruce Harris
In April 2016 Akashic Books launched the Edge of Sports imprint, curated by Dave Zirin, a sportswriter who has never shied away from criticizing that which die-hard sports fans hold dear. The Edge of Sports titles will address social justice issues across many different sports, and at both the professional and nonprofessional/collegiate levels. Parallel to this exciting new imprint, Akashic will be running a “Sports & Justice” series on our website featuring short original essays (750 words or less) paying homage to athletes who have demonstrated heroism outside of their field of play.
This week, Bruce Harris reminisces about a different kind of Senator.
The Washington Senator
by Bruce Harris
Imagine hitting four home runs in nine innings and losing the game.
The retired Senator, bigger than life, sat comfortably at his kitchen table, his wife tending to four hot chocolates near the stove. The time was circa 1993 in a modest condominium complex surrounded by a golf course in Myrtle Beach, SC.
“It was December, I remember, and freezing. I was cold and stiff and hadn’t swung a bat in weeks. They flew me out to California, but I couldn’t get warmed up properly. I lost twice and then flew back home,” the ex-Senator responded to my question. “Tell me what it was like competing in Home Run Derby.”
Home Run Derby, hosted by Mark Scott, was filmed at the old Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, California, in December 1959 and aired four months later. The biggest baseball stars of the day competed against each other. The relaxed man, now sipping hot chocolate with my son and me, lost first to Hank Aaron with a score of 6–4, then to Willie Mays, 6–3. Pretty fair competition, no?
My six-year-old decided it was his turn to ask a question. “Are you rich?” I felt like crawling under my host’s kitchen table, but to his credit the man didn’t hesitate. “I’m rich in the things that matter most in life,” said our host.
The former All-Star outfielder played twelve years during the 1950s and 1960s, major league’s golden era. He passed away in 2006. When I was a child flipping his baseball card, Jim Lemon was like a god. He still is. RIP.
BRUCE HARRIS is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: ABout Type.
Do you have an essay you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Sports & Justice series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your essay should focus on a specific athlete (or, in some cases, multiple athletes) who has committed her or himself to some form of social justice or otherwise heroic endeavors off the playing field.
—Your essay should not exceed 750 words, and must be previously unpublished.
—Please include a short bio with your submission.
—Accepted submissions to Sports & Justice are typically posted 1–3 months after the notification date, and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Aug 10, 2016
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