Ernie Davis was special. Personally and athletically.
On this day in 1961, he became the first Black player to win the Heisman Trophy. The season had been a spectacular one for Davis and Syracuse University.
Days of football glory for SU. Davis, Jim Brown, Larry Csonka and others. Been a long time since the school has experienced football dominance as it did with these greats.
Davis never played beyond Syracuse. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962, died May 18, 1963 at the age of 23.
On his death bed, Davis said, “When I look back I can’t call myself unlucky. My 23rd birthday was December 14. In these years I have had more than most people get in a lifetime.”
I was fortunate to have been in Law School at Syracuse during certain of Davis’ years. I graduated in 1960.
I watched many of the home games. There was no Carrier Dome back then. It was the open aired Archbold Stadium.
Few were the games I watched in Archbold. I could not afford it. Where there was a will, there was a way however.
The new law school building was constructed next to the stadium. The law school was several stories high. Glass all around. When a game was being played, I went to the law library and looked for an empty one person desk area next to a window on an upper floor.
The game was mine for free.
Following Davis’ death and to this day, the campus is replete with memorials recognizing the great Ernie Davis.
One is a room in the Carrier Dome called the Ernie Davis Room. Special events are held there.
The 1980’s were years when I contributed huge sums to the University. I also became a pocket to go to when the University had a special need.
I received a call from someone in the sports department. The crew team needed $10,000. I knew nothing about crew. Was not even aware Syracuse was involved in the sport.
Tradition called for a new shell (crew boat) do be used each year. lt always had to be new.
The school wanted me to finance the new shell.
Ten thousand dollars was the cheapest amount ever requested from me. Almost a freebie. I agreed.
Turned out to be a big deal.
I was asked to name the shell and christen it. My mother had recently died. I talked to my dad about the shell. He knew as much as me about crewing.
In any event, we agreed to name the shell after my Mother. She had been born in Italy. Her name in Italian was Fortunata. In English, Fortune. Her parents so named her because she was the eighth and last born. She was the only girl. Seven boys before her.
I told my Father he would do the actual christening.
We showed up at the appropriate time at the Ernie Davis Room. Sitting there was the Fortunata shell.
Many people. I knew few. Again, the sport was not one I had ever been involved with. A party. Food and drinks.
Time came for the christening. I told Dad he would be required to make a short speech. Did not seem to concern him.
Visualize a U.S. Navy vessel being christened. The shell the same way. However instead of a bottle of champagne, it was a bottle filled with water from the Thames River in England. The Thames runs through London.
Apparently the sport has something to do with the Thames River.
Dad did his duty by God, the University and Mom. He gave the shell a good swat. The bottle split and Thames water flew everywhere.
My Dad’s talk was interesting. He spoke about Mom, including how she and the shell got the name Fortunata.
I was happy for him.
Today is the last day of Hanukkah. Eight days and nights of Jewish celebration.
Though not precisely correct, I wish all my Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah!
Collin Morikawa. Twenty four years old. A professional golfer only 3-4 years. Already has distinguished himself big time. He has won 1 or 2 majors and several other tournaments.
He was playing in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. If he won, he would move up from 2nd to 1st in golf rankings.
An impressive record for a young man.
He went into the final round yesterday with a 5 stroke lead. Unbeatable. Or, so everyone thought.
Poor Collin blew it. Lost his 5 stroke lead in 3 holes over a 5 hole stretch. Suffered a complete breakdown. Could not recover.
First time this has happened to him. A cool player till yesterday. Proves everyone is human.
Collin will win again. Many times. May even be the one to threaten Tiger Woods’ record some day.
Australia continues with COVID “quarantine camps.”
A person who is diagnosed with the virus or one who has been in contact with an infected person is picked up and swiftly taken to a concentration type facility. The military picking them up are cloaked in “hazmat suits.”
Shades of Nazis picking up Jews.
If merely a “contact,” fourteen days the usual stay and an ok report from a doctor.
Life in the camps not easy. If an “inmate” merely steps too far outside their cells, they are subject to a $5,000 fine. Rooms are small. Meals delivered only once a day.
Inmates get mentally buggy. Valium is offered to make their stay easier.
Those retained are not reminded of their rights. Nor are they provided access to an attorney.
Is Australia the wave of the future?
Enjoy your day!