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Rooting for the Home Team

The most memorable experience of my Yale baseball career had nothing to do with throwing a game-winning pitch or making a clutch play at the plate. It was the time we stole the team bus.

It was 1962 and we were spending the night in the one-horse town of Davidson, North Carolina. Nobody was ready for bed, so we decided to drive to Charlotte for some entertainment. Since the team bus was our only means of transportation, we borrowed the keys from Pete, our slumbering driver. Being a farm boy, I was the designated driver. Arriving in Charlotte, we pulled into a lot behind a bar, nose to the wall. We had a great time, but when it came time to leave I realized that I didn’t know how to get the bus into reverse. Our only recourse was to call Pete. His job was on the line at that moment—but he calmly told us what to do and, in an act of great kindness, never brought up the subject again.

Compassion like Pete’s is just one of the many lessons I took from my  Yale athletics experience. Leadership, determination, teamwork, and sacrifice are some of the others that have served me well over the years. That’s why  I was honored to be asked to serve as chair of the second biennial Blue Leadership Ball.

The ball will celebrate the Yale athletics program, arguably the most distinguished in the country. The Yale-Harvard crew race, begun in 1852, is the oldest intercollegiate event in the country, and The Game is among the nation’s oldest collegiate football rivalries.

But it’s not just the venerable sports traditions that the ball will celebrate; it’s the full athletics program—35 varsity sports, an incredible intramural program, and multiple club sports—that distinguishes Yale. In fact, the event extends beyond Yale athletics to salute the university itself. As a former athlete and coach, and as the current guardian of Handsome Dan, I can say with conviction that Yale does it right. Students come here because they want a good education, and they do not need to worry about losing their scholarships if they decide not to pursue sports.

One of the highlights of the ball will be the presentation of the George H. W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Awards. This honor, the highest of the Yale Athletics Department, recognizes alumni who played a sport while at Yale and went on to make significant contributions to society after graduating. Needless to say, the pool is very rich.

Another special attraction will be a silent auction featuring goods that are truly out of the Blue. These include golf at Cypress, a stay at an exclusive fishing camp in Canada, and a golfing trip to Ireland. There’s also a baseball signed by 23 former Yale players, including George H. W. Bush '48 and George W. Bush '68.

This year’s ball also recognizes the outstanding job Tom Beckett has done, particularly his tireless effort to upgrade the athletics facilities. With its world-class squash facility, the Israel fitness center, the Brooks/Dwyer varsity training room, and many other improvements, the Yale athletics venue is now among the finest in the country.

As any former athlete will tell you, the longer you are away from your sport, the better you were. Every year my fastball gets faster. But no matter.  I had a wonderful, fun experience in my three years on the Yale baseball team. We played a very competitive schedule, and my teammates were extraordinary men. But after all, we’re talking about Yale. Who would expect anything different?

The Score

The Blue Leadership Ball will be on Friday, November 21. The Honors Committee, chaired by Jack Embersits '58, has chosen to confer the George H. W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award on Lisa Brummel '81 (volleyball, basketball, softball), executive vice president of Microsoft Corporation; William H. Donaldson '53 (ice hockey), chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Hon. John T. Downey '51 (football, wrestling), New Haven County superior court judge; James J. Duderstadt '64 (football), president emeritus of the University of Michigan; and Richard C. Gelb '45 (track and field), chairman emeritus of Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Tickets are $150 per person ($125 for members of the classes of 2000- 2003), and include two tickets to The Game. For more information, go to yalebulldogs.com or call (203) 432-1434.




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This article is provided by the Association of Yale Alumni.

Although the Yale Alumni Magazine is not part of the AYA, we are pleased to give this page to the AYA every issue as a service to our readers.


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