Alright, I was doing a little research on the 1972 Miami Dolphins (since I’m torn between wanting to see Eli Manning win the Superbowl to keep the Championship in the NFL’s First Family, or Tom Brady to finally be able to shut up the pompous ’72 Dolphins team as being the only undefeated team in the NFL) when I stumbled upon a photo of Bob Griese, the quarterback for the Dolphins during that magical season, that jogged my memory and reminded me that Griese, at one time, wore glasses—on the field!
So, I’ve decided to found the “Four Eyes” Hall of Fame, set up for us athletes (professional and amateur) who wore glasses while playing sports.
It brings me back to my little league days. I was in 8th grade and playing my last year of Pony League before I would venture into a rather short lived high school baseball career. I was our team’s catcher, played some third and first base and occasionally came on in relief, mostly in mop up situations to save the arms of our star pitchers. That year, I was having a terrible time hitting and my dad repeatedly asked me over and over, “Why don’t you try hitting without your glasses?” I tried coming up with some b.s. story about how the ball looked to blurry and I could see the ball much better with my glasses. All my dad would say is “what’s the difference, just try it?” However, I continued to believe I knew better.
Then our assistant coach, Steve helped me out. As we were running our infield drills before a night game (which was treat at the time for an eighth grader to have a game scheduled under the lights) the third basemen threw the ball back into me at the plate, and as the throw came in a little off, Steve reached his bat out to the knock the ball down, but the ball deflected off of his fungo and caught me square between the eyes sending my glasses flying apart in two pieces. There’s was no way I could hit, let alone catch without my glasses…AT NIGHT! I could still see the little smile on my dad’s face…that “now you’ll have to try it” look. Oh, he wasn’t mocking me, it was just his wish come true, that I would have to try something he was ragging me on for two months. That night, my first at bat, I squinted out toward the mound and swung at the first pitch I saw and tapped it back to the pitcher. Same results as before, weak contact if I even made contact at all. But wait! Catcher’s interferrence was called, so I was awarded a single. My next time up, in the 4th inning, I faced Dan Smith, a kid with a wicked curveball. Again, advice from my dad would be golden. He told me I could hit this kid’s curveball, I just needed to stay back and wait on it. With two strikes on me, I heard my dad yell “TWO, TWO” from the bleachers. Everyone else probably thought “how rude to have his dad remind him he has two strikes on him!”, but I knew what my dad was saying…watch for the curve, his out pitch. Sure enough, I waited back of the big bender and ripped a double down the right field line. My career was reborn!
Over the next two games, I would proceed to hit a double and triple in the same inning, and then the following game, hit another double and triple! In the span of three games, I had six hits! From that point on, I never wore glasses again while I played. I only wished that I would have listened to my father’s advice more and not be so bullheaded thinking I knew everything.
However, in honor of those players who need some extra optical assistance, I have selected and ranked the top four specs in sports:
4. MLB-Darrell Porter, KC Royals/St. Louis Cardinals. Sure Reggie Jackson had 563 career home runs, but Mr. October never had to slide a catcher’s mask over his glasses!
3. NHL-The Hanson Brothers, Charlestown Chiefs. Yes, they were fictional characters, but they were based on three real brothers (Jeff, Steve, and Jack Carlson).
2. NFL-Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins. How did someone not take a cheap shot at those things! He beats out Eric Dickerson since Dickerson was such a wimp and had to wear every imaginable pad known to mankind to protect his body.
1. NBA-Kurt Rambis, LA Lakers. Nuff Said.
So remember, whether it’s your son or daughter who now wears glasses, you can remind them that some of the greatest athletes in their day wore glasses just like they do. For any kid reading this article, one piece of advice from a career little league hitter of .240…always listen to your parents advice.
By the way if you have a sports photo of yourself or son or daughter with glasses, goggles, etc, send them my way at [email protected] and we’ll feature them in the “Four Eyes Hall of Fame”