Blindness an 'inconvenience' for sports journalist
JOHN WALK The York Dispatch
Updated: 07/28/2011 11:53:15 AM EDT
In 1958, Ed Lucas became one of the first blind students in the country to graduate with a bachelor's degree.
In 1980, he made history by becoming the first disabled person in the United States to win full custody of his children from a non-disabled spouse.
In 2001, Ed and his son, Chris, were chosen to carry the Olympic flame through the streets of New York City on its way to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
And in 2006, Lucas and his second wife, Allison, were the first and only couple to be married at home plate in what is now the old Yankee Stadium.
Those are just some of the items on the long list of accomplishments and experiences that the now 72-year-old Lucas has racked up through his life.
And they're likely shining examples that Lucas points to when he tells people "don't give up."
ForSight Vision in York is set to honor Lucas on Sunday at a dinner at Sovereign Bank Stadium before a York Revolution ballgame. ForSight Vision presents the award each year to individuals across the nation who have overcome vision disabilities.
On Oct. 3, 1951, the then 12-year-old Lucas had just finished watching the famous playoff game between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers on television. It's famous for the walk-off home run by the Giants' Bobby Thompson, commonly referred to today as the "shot heard 'round the world."
Playing in a sandlot baseball game with his friends that afternoon, Lucas was struck between the eyes by a line drive. Over the next couple days, Lucas' vision disappeared completely and never returned.
"I became very depressed," Lucas said.
His mother sent him to St. Joseph's School for the Blind, where Lucas learned how to live with his blindness, thanks to the discipline of the nuns at the school.
"When I first started there, I walked with my hands out in front of me. I made sure I didn't walk into anybody or anything. A nun came up and slapped my hands down. She said 'we're all in the same boat here, so pick up your oar and start rowing.'"
Around the same time, Lucas' mother introduced him to Yankees'' player Phil Rizzuto, who worked at a men's clothing store in New Jersey during the offseason. Rizzuto took Lucas under his wing, and that relationship proved to be one of the starting points of what eventually led to Lucas' career in sports journalism.
Lucas has met senators, governors, and U.S. presidents. He has interviewed Hall of Famers such as Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.
He has worked in public relations, sales and covered baseball as a sports writer and broadcaster.
He continues to freelance for yesnetwork.com -- he was the first reporter to ask Derek Jeter about his 3,000th hit at the news conference following the monumental achievement earlier this month.
And he also tours the country to do speaking engagements, hoping to spread his message.
"My message is to let people know to don't give up," Lucas said. "No matter who you are. No matter how young or how old you are. I was told 'you can't do this, you can't do that.' That aggravated me. No matter if you're young or old, each one of us has some sort of disability. My blindness is an inconvenience. But I didn't give up."
Sunday's events will begin at 3:30 p.m. Tickets for the buffet, program and baseball game are $30 per person or $15 for children 12 and younger. Reservations can be made by contacting Karen at ForSight Vision, 848-1690, ext. 108.
-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@york dispatch.com.