On Oct. 3, 1951,
Ed Lucas raced home from school in Jersey City to see, on the family's new
Philco, Bobby Thomson win the pennant for his beloved New York Giants. The
12-year-old then ran outside to celebrate on the sandlot, where he was promptly
hit between the eyes by a line drive, a blow that detached both retinas and
left him permanently blind.
Ed's mother, he
likes to say, was a professional boxer. (She boxed apples and oranges at the
A&P warehouse.) That winter Rosanna Lucas marched her deeply depressed son
to the American Shops, a Newark men's store, where she introduced him to
part-time employee Phil Rizzuto, a Yankees star who befriended the boy.
Rosanna also wrote
to Giants manager Leo Durocher about Ed, who asked her to bring her son to the
Polo Grounds. "We went on June 14, 1952," Ed says. "My mother
waited outside on the centerfield porch because women weren't allowed in the
clubhouse. I met Bobby Thomson and all the Giants. Almost every player brought
me a bottle of soda. I couldn't drink them all."
That fall Ed
enrolled at St. Joseph's School for the Blind, a boarding school in Jersey
City, where the nuns demanded that he make his bed and match his clothes. When
he walked the strange hallways with his arms out in front of him,
Frankenstein-style, his house mother, Sister Anthony Marie, slapped his wrists
down to his sides. When he protested that he couldn't see, she said, "Isn't
that a shame? We're all in the same boat here. Pick up your oar and start
In 1962 Ed
graduated from Seton Hall with a degree in communication arts, after which he,
and his tape recorder, became fixtures in the Shea and Yankee Stadium press
boxes. The players he interviewed for sundry New Jersey radio stations and
newspapers often interrupted his questions to ask their own. In 1965 Mets
rookie Ron Swoboda asked Ed, "Did anyone ever describe this ballpark to
you?" Told no, Swoboda took him by the hand and led Ed on a lap around the
warning track, where they ran their hands along the outfield wall, reading its
contours as if they were written in Braille.
That same year Ed
married. Eventually he had two sons, Eddie and Chris. But when the boys were
four and two, respectively, Ed's wife, like Ed's Giants, left him forever.
He raised the boys
as a blind single parent with superhuman powers. Or so it appeared to Eddie and
Chris, who boasted at school that their father could read with the lights out.
"I wanted their lives to be as normal as possible," says Ed.
For Eddie and
Chris it was not unusual to wake up and see Billy Martin drinking coffee at
their kitchen table. Yankee Stadium became the boys' second home. Says Chris,
"Huge stars like Mickey Mantle would tell me my dad was their
Many years later
Phil Rizzuto was in his local flower shop in Union, N.J., when the florist told
him about her niece, Allison Pfeifle, a nurse whose detached retina left her
legally blind and no longer able to work as a nurse.
Rizzuto asked Ed
if he'd be willing to give Allison a pep talk. Ed and Allison talked on the
phone for several years before they met in person. On their first date the two
baseball nuts went to Shea Stadium, where Ed introduced Allison to one of his
manifold friends, then Dodger Darryl Strawberry.