“The Wizard”

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS April 4, 2016 #587 Up next… “The Wizard”

After further review…As we conclude “March Madness” tonight (April 4th), it brings to mind the coach who has won the most NCAA Championships than anyone in history: John Wooden, aka “The Wizard of Westwood” (the western Los Angeles location of UCLA). My initial acquaintance with Wooden was when I was coaching basketball at Lincoln High School in East Los Angeles in the early 1950s. Our T*E*A*M in those days didn’t have any player over six feet, but our kids were quick. We adopted Coach Wooden’s full court press, and it worked well. Attending every coaching clinic where Wooden spoke helped set up that style with his philosophy of “Be quick, but don’t hurry!”

Fast forward to later that decade, when I was officiating high school and junior college basketball and was selected to officiate the Los Angeles City High School Championship game. It was a run-run-run game with two exceptionally talented teams, the final score an NBA-like 88-86 in the regulation 48 minutes. Following the game, the other official, Norm Schachter, and I (two-man officiating crews were the norm in those days) were getting ready to take a shower, when a knock came at the door, quiet but forceful. I asked who it was and the voice replied: “John Wooden.” With no idea the coach was even in the building, we were skeptical, and so I asked again, “Who is it?” As quietly and forcefully as the knock on the door the voice repeated “John Wooden.” I opened the door. And there stood – JOHN WOODEN!

Although I had attended his coaching clinics, we had never met. Coach Wooden said “You both worked a great game, and it was a tough one.” Norm and I replied in unison, “Thanks, coach, that means a lot coming from you.” Coach Wooden then turned to me and said, “I’d like to recommend you to work in our Pacific Coast Conference (as the Pac-12 was called in those days).” I was flattered and responded, “I’d be honored.” That began an 11-year PCC college basketball officiating career for me. The 1960s were championship years at UCLA for Coach Wooden and, while he and I dutifully observed our separate roles as coach and game official, I was honored to officiate over 30 games, both at Pauley Pavilion (the Bruins’ home court) and at away locations.

But the real story of Coach Wooden was – and is – his dedication to his wife Nell, who passed away on March 21, 1985, from cancer at age 73. Coach was at her bedside day after day, either holding her hand or simply sitting in quiet prayer. National championship trophies – even the 10 earned by John Wooden at UCLA — have a “shelf-life,” but legacies of love have a way of enduring beyond the clamor and excitement of athletic contests.

Will you treat your successes with the same philosophy that Coach Wooden exemplified?

To contact Jim, go to www.jimtunney.com or email him jim@jimtunney.com.

New Book! “Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” is now available for $20. which includes tax and mailing and an autograph, if requested. The book takes issues from the world of sports and transforms them into positive messages for productive living. Email to the above or send to P.O. Box 1440 Pebble Beach, Ca. 93953. Thank You!

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“Fight On!”

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS March 28, 2016 # 586 Up next…” Fight On!”

After further review…A recent “On the Tunney Side of Sports” related the famous statement by Lou Gehrig, legendary first-baseman of the New York Yankees, about why he was the “luckiest guy on the face of this earth.” There are tons stories about athletes with such heart embedded in their messages that they have the power to move us to tears or motivate us to action. I thought you’d enjoy this one:

I met a young man – let’s call him JJ – when he was a student at Fairfax High School (LA) where I served as the principal – many years ago. JJ was a better-than-average player on our baseball T*E*A*M, but he was also a better-than-average student. When JJ graduated, he planned on enrolling at the University of Southern California. He was not offered an athletic scholarship, nor had he planned on playing baseball at the college level – until his high school coach encouraged him.

To expect to “walk-on” un-recruited at U.S.C. in the late 1960s, with the legendary Rod Dedeaux as their coach could be considered a fool’s errand. The Trojans had their pick of any outstanding ball player around. JJ did walk on (scouting report read “Bats-L; Throws-R”), and would up as the centerfielder on Dedeaux’s 1968 NCAA Championship team. After graduating from USC, he had a tryout with the San Diego Padres. When the Padres decided to send him to their single-A team, JJ decided he would pursue his vocation and attend law school. He has become one of the most well-respected criminal defense lawyers in Southern California today.

But JJ’s love of baseball didn’t stop at the courthouse door. He shows up every year at the Trojans’ annual spring game played, of course, at Dedeaux Field on the USC campus. “I’ve been playing baseball since I was five and once a year I get four at-bats. It’s just priceless for me,” he says. “Four at-bats?” JJ is now 68 years of age, and today’s college pitchers are flaming that ball towards him at 90-plus mph! He hasn’t missed a game since 1970, and showed up an hour-and-a-half early this year!

These 46 years have not been without other challenges; JJ is three times a lymphoma survivor and now afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease. But Dedeaux’s words still ring loud and clear in JJ’s head: “No matter the weather, no matter if the crowd is hostile, no matter how you’re feeling, always say to yourself, ‘That’s just the way it is’.”

JJ’s final wish, he says with a laugh, is that he be buried in the batter’s box (on the left side, of course) with a plaque that reads: “Jay Jaffe – born August 1947, died 0-for-4.”

Will you face your life’s challenges with “that’s just the way it is?”

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email jim@jimtunney.com.

New Book! “Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” is now available for $20. which includes tax, free shipping and an autograph, if requested. Email above or send to P.O. Box 1440 Pebble Beach, Ca. 93953. This book takes issues from the world of sports and transforms them into positive messages for productive living. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20Ub8mJo-r0

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A Baseball Story

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS March 21, 2016 # 585 Up next…A Baseball Story

After further review…Baseball is chock-full of heartwarming stories that make one not only appreciate the game or an individual, but leaves the reader with something to think about. For the last 11 years that has been, and will continue to be, the paramount premise of these weekly “TunneySide of Sports” columns/blogs. Here’s one that Mack R. Douglas writes. It’s a classic story that has been around for decades, but may be misunderstood:

In 1937, Lou Gehrig, the outstanding first baseman of the New York Yankees, was in Chicago with his T*E*A*M to play the White Sox and was asked to visit Children’s Hospital. He was requested to visit Tim, a 10-year-old who had been stricken with polio. Tim was refusing therapy, and his parents hoped that a visit from Gehrig would urge their son to go to therapy. When he visited Tim that day, Gehrig said, “I want you to get well and learn to walk again.” Tim said, “Lou, if you will knock a home run for me today. I will learn to walk again,” Gehrig promised.

All the way to the ballpark that day Gehrig felt a deep sense of obligation, as well as much apprehension, that he might not be able to deliver his promise. Although five years earlier in 1932, Gehrig had hit four home runs in one game and his batting was a major reason the Yankees won six championships. Still, this “promise” weighed heavily on him. Gehrig met that challenge; he didn’t hit one home run at Comiskey Park that day, he hit two over the wall!

Two years later, Gehrig, who had had a horrible 1938 season, was having an equally bad 1939 start. So he checked himself into the Mayo Clinic. Following a series of tests, doctors informed him he was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease. Gehrig, however, continued to play until May 2, 1939 when he voluntarily took himself out of the Yankee lineup. On July 4, 1939 they celebrated Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium. More than 80,000 fans, New York Governor, Harold H. Lehman, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia and a plethora of celebrities were in attendance to pay their respects.

Just before the mike was turned over to Gehrig to respond to the wonderful tributes paid him, Tim, now 12 years old, walked out of the Yankee dugout, dropped his crutches, and with leg braces walked to home plate where Lou was standing and gave him a hug. That’s what Gehrig meant when he said those immortal words, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Will you reach out to help inspire someone when the opportunity arises?

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email jim@jimtunney.com.

New Book! “Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” is now out. This book takes issues from the world of sports and transforms them into positive messages for productive living. Watch the attached video to learn more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20Ub8mJo-r0

Posted in Kindness in 2013!, Sports, Tunney Side of Sports Columns, Weblogs | Leave a comment