Posted September 9, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Eller: Dreaming on the job just a perk

As a writer, I must confess something to you, the reader.

Sometimes, I forget you're there.

Don't hate me for it. It's an honest oversight on my part when it happens. My job, of course, is to keep you, the reader, informed on local sports here in the Shenandoah Valley. It's a job I take pride in. But there are times when my duties come and go, and I forget what my goal as a writer should be.

I can go out to cover a football game, take notes, interview coaches and players, whip up a story and off it goes, out to you the next day. And at least for that story, the road ends. So you can see how it's easy to overlook you as the reader when I'm simply covering an event and then recapping it.

But that's the great thing about columns. Here I have the chance to connect to you, the reader, on a topic that may or may not interest you and offer my thoughts. It's a chance to express my opinion, but more importantly, it's a chance for you to be involved in what I do.

So today, I offer up a simple question. It's a thought I've had for a while, one I've asked my friends and co-workers about and it's just something that gets you thinking.

Let's pretend you've built a "sports" time machine. With it, you may travel back to any single sporting event in history, whether it's to a certain memorable game or match, a specific year or season, or maybe it's simply to watch an athlete from way back when. But where would you go? When would you go? You may only pick one (and no, it's not designed to go back and wager your entire savings account on a team you know is going to win).

To me, three events routinely come to mind (I'm allowed to pick three because it's my column. You can hate me for that). For starters, I would travel back to Feb. 22, 1980, better known as the "Miracle on Ice." I've asked my dad about that day several times, and he can never find the exact words to capture what that moment meant to this country. Just watching that famous clip complete with the Al Michaels' countdown gives me goose bumps. I would love to go back and witness that day when the United States upset supposedly the greatest hockey team ever, en route to a gold medal in the 1980 Winter Games.

Next, I would continue back almost five years, to Oct. 1, 1975. To many, this was the date of the greatest boxing match of all time, a clash of titans pitting Muhammad Ali against Joe Frazier, more commonly known as "The Thrilla in Manilla." I will be the first to admit I don't know much about boxing, but for that I don't blame myself. Boxing simply isn't as popular as it was 30 or 40 years ago. In my lifetime, the names Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis come to mind, all great boxers, but the golden age of the sport was truly during the late 1930s through the 1970s, when names like Ali, Frazier, Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano dominated the sports culture.

I think it would be truly great to witness a classic boxing match and one of the greatest athletes of all time in Ali, being able to see him drop a left hook or float across the ring in a fight. That'd be something.

My final stop would be the place I'd go if I could only travel one time. It's without a doubt the single athlete I would love to have watched in his prime. That man is Babe Ruth. It's hard enough to find someone today who was alive during Ruth's playing days, even more so to find someone who was old enough then to remember. So, like most of you, most of my knowledge of the Sultan of Swat comes in the form of numbers and statistics, and stories passed down over the years.

I can say that if the stories are only half as impressive as they sound, seeing arguably the greatest baseball player of all time in his prime would be the thrill of my life. I would kill to watch him smack 40 home runs in a season, again and again, all the while tossing back a few beers and hot dogs before games. I would love to watch him step to the plate, point the bat to dead center field and come through on his claim. Just to witness the legend in his prime would be the biggest treat in sports history.

So there you go, readers. You have my tour of sports history, thanks to my "sports" time machine. Hopefully this column has you thinking about the history of sports and its impact on our lives. Hopefully, it will teach you not to forget the great moments in sports history. I know I'll never forget.

OK, maybe sometimes.

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