Friday, July 12, 2002

Sports Greats

The recent passing of Ted Williams brought to mind some "off the playing field" meetings I had with super stars. Back in the late 50s, early 60s I would frequently visit “Chock Full of Nuts” on Lexington and 44th. One day I noticed a man behind the counter in business clothes, he was black, tall and very polite none other than Jackie Robinson. The company’s exec offices were above the store and Jackie was a VP. He always had time to chat with customers, a great guy.
While on vacation in Florida with family, we were driving to a hotel on Islamorada. As I passed a tennis complex, I remarked to my wife that maybe they had people who would be willing to hit with me. Upon returning to the courts to make a reservation, I was met by this towering, handsome and friendly man... it was Ted Williams, owner of the complex. We shook hands, my hand was lost in his! He set me up with another vacationer, wish I could have hit with him!
On a trip to Molokai in 1980, I went to the tennis courts for a pre-arranged hitting session with the pro. He asked if it would be OK to hit with another player against him. I agreed and found myself next to the football great, LT. Neither one of us offered any competition to the pro, but it’s fun to remember all three events.

Bob Vernum