Thursday, May 17, 2012


Ever since my father died, I don't play golf very much anymore. In fact, I only play
once a year and when I do, I take just one swing and call it a day. One swing is all I need
to put a smile on my face and go home. No mulligans, no excuses, no do-overs. On May 17,
I hit one ball to honor my father who died on this day, and I do it early. Patrick J. Devlin
passed away at 6:37 a.m on May 17, 2008.

On the anniversary of his passing, I get up well before dawn and drive to the Westchester
Country Club in Harrison, New York. I make sure I allow for enough time for traffic, bad
weather, and other unpredictable things, like leaving my Big Bertha driver at home, which
I've done before. As long as I make it to the tee box at 6:37 a.m., all is good.

This first tee on the West course, which had been the home of a PGA tour event for more
than 40 years, was a special place for me and my Dad. It's where we started the countless
rounds of golf and shared truly incredible times together as father and son, but more importantly,
as best friends. As a kid who grew up with nothing on the south side of Chicago, my father
never played golf and never really spent a lot of time doing things with his Dad, who was
always working two jobs.

Playing golf with me became my father's favorite thing to do and as I grew older, it became
a special thing for me, as well. When my Dad showed up to the first tee, he was part
Rodney Dangerfield and part Arnold Palmer. He was a funny guy who loved to crack jokes
and bust the chops of the people in his foursome, including me. Caddies loved carrying my
father's bag because they knew they'd be in for an entertaining four and a half hours of golf.
He treated them as if they were one of his best friends, and they loved him for it. But after
my father teed off, he could be very competitive and intense. He was tossing clubs long
before Tiger Woods made it part of his game.

The first hole is a Par-4 and 308 yards long. Even when I was as young as 13, my father
would make me play from the back tees. Like hell if he was going to allow me from to hit
from the white tees because to him, they may as well have been the ladies. I drove the
green when I was 16 which made my Dad grin from ear to ear, and over the years, I could
pretty much get out of bed after a night on the town and drill the ball down the middle. I
couldn't explain it, there was just something special about that first hole.

After my father passed away four years ago, I wanted to do something to honor him in
a special way. I gave thought to organizing a tournament in his memory, but it just never
happened, perhaps because I was too selfish and just wanted to keep our golf memories
between him and me. Hitting a drive off the first tee at 6:37 a.m. felt like the perfect thing
to do, even if things would never always be perfect. Last year, there was a torrential
downpour that flooded the area. Staying in the comforts of my bed would've been easy,
but  that was never really an option. My father never missed a day of work in his life, no
matter how sick he was, and he was always there for us, no matter what. I had to be there
for him.

By the time I walked the 500 yards from my car to the first tee, I was beyond soaked. The
sound of rain drilling the sidewalks and cart paths echoed throughout the club, but I was the
only one who could hear it. It seemed surreal and I felt like my Dad and I were walking side
by side as we made our way to the first tee. Even without practice or playing as infrequently
as I do, I always find a way to hit the ball straight down the middle, whether there is pouring
rain or brilliant sunshine. Everything seems so right when I'm on the tee on May 17 at 6:37
a.m. because I know that my father is watching over me just as he always did when he
was alive.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


For most of us, Christmas Day only comes once a year, but for Carl Beane, it happened 81
more times during the baseball season. If the Red Sox made the playoffs, he'd get a little
extra something in his stocking. You see, Beane was the public address announcer at Fenway
Park. It was a dream job which he landed close to the age of 50. Red Sox players making
millions to play a kids game, never took the field as happy as the man who was introducing
them. Nobody or anything could wipe the grin off the face of Beane, not even a meltdown
by his beloved team when they blew a 9-0 lead to the Yankees earlier this season. Beane had a
job that he waited almost a lifetime to get and after nine years behind the mic, he was firmly
entrenched in it.

On Wednesday morning, Beane died of a heart attack while driving in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
He was just 59 years old. In a season that's been unfolding like a soap opera for the Red Sox,
the death of Beane is like a tragedy in a Greek play, except this is real. Beane was a beloved
figure around Fenway Park, a person who appeared to be an underdog all his life, finally
enjoying his greatest professional achievement. He was the Red Sox public address announcer.
In Boston, if you are employed by the Red Sox or have anything to do with them, (unless you're
John Lackey or Josh Beckett) you are looked upon in a very good light and envied by many
throughout Red Sox nation. No game started before Beane introduced the lineups and he took
an enormous amount of pride in doing it.

I first met Beane on my first tour of Boston in 1998. I'd always see him at Red Sox and Patriot
games where he'd be in the scrum of reporters holding some kind of microphone waiting
to record the same old, vanilla-flavored answers from the the athletes. He'd occasionally ask a
question or exchange small talk with a colleague, and I'd always say to myself, "That guy has
one helluva voice." After leaving Boston and coming back from Atlanta in 2004, I discovered
"that guy" was the public address announcer for the Red Sox. He had auditioned for the job a
year earlier and won the position over a number of other candidates. He wasn't just Carl Beane
anymore, he was Carl Beane, public address announcer of the Red Sox, and he loved every
minute of it. And Beane appeared to be a good luck charm for the Red Sox as they won the
World Series in 2004 and 2007.

Beane wore the two World Series rings presented to him by Red Sox ownership like the kid
who got the biggest present at Christmas. And why not? Can you imagine getting your dream
job at 50, then being considered part of not one, but two World Championship teams in Boston?
Boston is not Atlanta or Phoenix where they don't win anything, or even care about anything,
for that matter. Boston is the greatest sports city in the country with the most passionate fans
around and Beane was a part of it.

Life is cruel and it sure as heck isn't fair. Good people die way too young and bad ones get ahead
by lying, cheating, and throwing others under the bus. Carl Beane was a good guy who died
way too young. But he achieved his dream and he did things the right way. Red Sox nation will
miss him.


Before the four home run game on Tuesday night, the tape measure shots, and the demons and
drug addiction that almost derailed his life and career, Josh Hamilton was a ridiculously talented
player at a high school in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was on the radar of Major League scouts
as a freshman and by the time he was a senior, Hamilton didn't have to bother looking at colleges.
A major league team was going to make him an instant millionaire as soon as he was eligible for
the 1999 draft.

During the scouting process, a well-respected talent evaluator was assigned to check out Hamilton
prior to the draft. He worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks and prior to the game, the front office
of the D-backs told this scout to call them after watching Hamilton play in the first inning of the
game. Hamilton was scheduled to pitch and there was some debate as to whether Hamilton's
future in the game would be as a pitcher or outfielder. The left-hander could throw the ball through
a car wash without it getting wet and he just overpowered high school hitters.

In the game the scout was watching, Hamilton's first three pitchers out of his hand were 96, 96,
and 98 miles per hour. Those are the kind of pitches that high school hitters HEAR but don't see.
Hamilton struck out the side in the top of the first inning. He batted third in the bottom of the
inning and the crushed the first pitch he saw into the trees some 450 feet away.

As per request, the scout for the D-backs made a call to the front office to let them know what
Hamilton did in the first inning. "Well, Hamilton hit 98 on the gun and struck out the side in the
first inning," the scout, in a slow, southern drawl told the people anxiously awaiting on the other
end of the line. "Then he hit a ball  that would've gone of Yellowstone Park in the bottom of
the first."

The D-backs personnel in Arizona weren't really all that surprised because they knew how
talented Hamilton was. But they pressed the scout to compare Hamilton to any other player
he's evaluated or seen in the big leagues. The scout responded, "Well, I'm not exactly sure,
to be honest with you." The front-office was incredulous that the scout couldn't come up with
at least one player that was comparable to Hamilton. "Come on," demanded the man on the
other end of the line. "There has to be someone who Hamilton compares to." There was silence
on the other end for a few seconds.

"Well, I'd have to say Babe Ruth."

True, very true.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


 Can you we not see greatness anymore? Perhaps, in this Twitter, Facebook, iPad, and iPhone
world we are just too distracted to truly  appreciate it. Maybe we don't even care about because
we've seen the great ones like Tiger Woods and Brett Favre create such personal messes that it's overshadowed their personal achievements. And we all know that athlete who's been anointed
as the next best thing, is just a failed drug test away from being insignificant.

But why is it that when the greatness of Derek Jeter smacks us in the face, we don't see it?
DerekJeter has done everything right in a sports world where most athletes are on the bad side
of wrong. Scandal has never met him, a bad attitude has never arisen, and his first class has
never changed it's status. He is everything a great athlete should be. He is a person that nearly
every parent hopes their child emulates and morphs into.

One of the marks of true greatness and character is how you act and react when things have
gone bad. How does a person handle being criticized and doubted? Last year, the Yankees captain
got off to bad start and people not only dug his grave, but threw dirt on him, as well. Forget about
the five World Series rings and .313 career batting average,  Jeter was done, washed up, and ready
for the glue factory.  Yes, Jeter was overmatched early on and it appeared his bad speed had
vanished quicker than "Linsanity". But the last time I checked, the back of a player's baseball
card doesn't say, "He was hitting .218 on May 21." It's what you hit for the year.

Through all the negativity and criticism, Jeter didn't get frustrated, rattled, or throw a hissy fit.
Come to think of it, have you ever seen Jeter throw a helmet, break a bat, or shout profanities
in the dugout after striking out? Me neither, because it's never happened in his career. He just
kept working and grinding and didn't let doubt or the critics break his will or focus.  After Jeter secured his 3,000 hit on July 9, he hit .342 for the rest of the season to finish with a .297 batting average. A lot of players in baseball would love to have a "bad" year like that.

This year, when his birth certificate says he'll turn 38, Jeter has gotten off to a blazing hot
start. There are no calls from Vinny in the Bronx suggesting the Yankees to trade for Troy
Tulowitzki. Mike in  the car is not railing about the slow bat speed of Jeter. The "experts"
on the phone lines have gone radio silent. Jeter hasbeen all but silent. If would be easy for him
to say, "Who's washed up, now?" Or ignore all the reporters on the Yankees beat for starting to
write his obituary. But that's not Jeter. He's 100 percent class and has always had it figured out but
doesn't let everyone know that he does.

There is no one is sports like Derek Jeter. Tim Tebow, like the Yankees shortstop is a man of
great character, but he doesn't and never will, have Jeter's greatness athletically. He will never
win five championship rings or be a hall of famer. Lebron James? He makes all the right moves
on the court, but all the wrong ones off it. In a Metta Peace World of bad characters and even worse behavior, Jeter is all that is right. Appreciate true greatness. It might come in spurts, but nobody
will be able to sustain it on and off the field like Derek Jeter has, for a long, long, time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


This will be the first and last time you'll probably ever read the name of Anton Deiters in a sentence. He's not on any list of Forbes nor is he a talentless wannabe actor on one of the million reality shows that poison and flood the airwaves. He's never signed a pro contract or picked up a medal for finishing first in an Olympic race. Anton Deiters is a 72-year old man who lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut that just happens to be my new hero.

On a sweltering day in Boston last April, Deiters, who was born in Holland, finished the Boston
Marathon in just over 5.5 hours. That's not really a great time for an avid runner, but for someone who is 72-years old, it's pretty remarkable. More shocking and amazing, Deiters completed the
race less than eight months after flat-lining during a field hockey game in Scotland.

That's right. A 72-year old man was participating in a senior-senior game of field hockey. How
great is that? The guy is running around with a short stick chasing around a ball with players
who are 60 and older.

At halftime of the game, Deiters collapsed in the locker room. He suffered a heart attack and was
gone. No heart beat. Dead. The fat lady had sung. But the paramedics re-started his heart with a defibrillator and took him to the hospital where he was put in a medically induced coma. Deiters
recovered and walked out of the hospital but he wasn't about to quit living just because he had
almost died.

The former banker and lawyer slowly but surely got back to doing what he loves and that's running
marathons. He had done 25 of them in his career before the heart attack, competing in a lot of them
all over the world. In 2010, at the ripe old age of 69, Deiters ran the Zermatt Marathon in Switzerland, which was basically 26.2 miles UP a mountain. It took him 6:29 hours to finish,
which came just three days after he scaled Matterhorn, a significant mountain near the one he was going to try to run.

Deiters ran his first marathon in New York City in 1976 when the organizers reconfigured the
race to go through the five boroughs of the Big Apple. Deiters was hooked. He said he runs
"anywhere, anyplace, at anytime". He's like Forrest Gump in the movie, "Forrest Gump". Deiters
just keeps running and running until he decides he doesn't want to run anymore.

After suffering a heart attack at age 72, Deiters could've decided that enough was enough. I mean,
there comes a point when we  know when to say when, and put the running shoes away, right?
Not Deiters. He knew there was plenty left in the take and felt that life is meant to be lived. No
fear, no limits, no time to quit doing the thing he loves to do.

Deiters set a goal to run the Boston Marathon to prove that he could come back from his heart
attack and to show everyone that it would be he who decided when enough was enough. He ran
8-9 miles every other day and incorporated speed and hill work into his regime. Keep in mind
that he's 72-years old! 72!. Deiters, who was one of 11 children, warmed up for the Boston
Marathon by running in a half-marathon in his home state of Connecticut. No problem. He
finished in just over two hours.

When the Boston Marathon came around, forecasters predicted a brutally hot day for the
runners who would try to run 26.2 miles through the suburbs and streets of Boston. Officials
urged many people to come back next year, offering deferrals, which had been unheard of
in the country's oldest marathon. 3,000 entrants didn't even bother showing up. Running 26.2
miles is painful enough, trying to do it with temperatures hovering near 90 degrees is flirting
with disaster.

Deiters was unfazed. At 72-years old and coming off a heart attack, he didn't blink. He had
worked too hard and overcome too much to have a little heat prevent him from accomplishing
his goal. Deiters didn't win the race but he conquered the course and the inner demons that
often prevent many of us from fulfilling our true potential. He passed many runners who were
overcome by the oppressive temperatures and waved good-bye to all fear and doubt that may
have started to seep into his psyche.

Deiters completed the first marathon of his "second life" in 5:37:51 seconds. That's a very
respectable time for anyone, not to mention a man who is 72 and just coming off a heart attack.
He is living his life his way. There are no limitations or excuses in Deiters' life.

Anton Deiters is my new hero.