May 2010

Memorial Day Weekend



1.jpgOne of the most touching and special moments in my life came last summer in Iraq.  I was on a USO tour with Admiral Mike Mullens, as we visited troops in five countries across the Middle East.

We were in Iraq at Saddam’s summer house.  There must have been about 500 troops there, and those of us who were on the tour.  I don’t know what came over me.  I must have been so moved by the presence of so many of our brave soldiers who were there serving our nation and protecting us. 

All of a sudden I began to sing, “God Bless America.”

At first it was just me, but then people started to join in.  Within a minute everybody in the house was singing that beautiful song. 

I’m not sure if everybody was crying, but I know I was, as I am so proud of the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service, sacrifice, bravery and duty.

I served two years in the Army during World War II.  My father, who was an Italian immigrant, told me and my four brothers that the United States is the greatest country in the world, and that we must do everything we can to keep it that way.  He told us that we may even have to give our lives to this country.  Now that’s a father telling his sons they may have to die protecting America!

I love this country, and hold our soldiers in the highest respect.  Especially those who have paid the ultimate price.

Happy Memorial Day, America.

My 8th Honorary Degree


USC.jpgTonight I will give the commencement address to the graduating class at Cypress College.  I am going to tell them what it will take for them to succceed when they get into the real world.  They are kind enough to recognize my life experience with an honorary degree. 

Although I never stepped one foot in college, this will be my eighth degree.  Here are the seven:

1. Pepperdine University (1996)

2. St. Thomas University (!997)

3. Cal State Long Beach (1998)

4. University of Phoenix (1997)

5. Concordia University (2003)

6. University of Hawaii (2006)

7. Argosy University (2008) 

Double Header

Today I will give motivational addresses to the California Peace Officers Assocation at 3:30 pm, and then to the Disabled Veterans Alliance at 7:00 pm.

Both organizations represent outstanding individuals who commit themselves to protecting us and our way of life.

By speaking I hope to express our appreciation and respect for thier service and sacrifice.  I have the utmost repsect for the men and women who wear their respective uniforms and dedicate their lives to us, the citizens of the greatest country in the world!

Remembering Keli McGregor

A few weeks ago the Colorado Rockies, and the baseball world, lost a dear fiend, a consummate executive, and a strong leader in Keli McGregor, the President of the Colorado Rockies.  Keli died unexpectedly, and I miss him tremendously.  However, his legacy will be carried out by the Rockies on the field, and by his wife Lori and four children off the field.

When I met Keli for the first time he was a giant of a man standing 6’5″.  However, I quickly learned that he had a heart as big as his body with a personality that would shine throughout.  Keli and I became friends right off the bat.  I respected him so much because of the principled way in which he lived his life. 

He loved his family.

He loved God.

He loved our country.

And he loved being the president of the Rockies.

He lived his life and made his decisions based on two principles that I think are fundamental to a well-balanced life: love and respect.

Everybody who followed him, loved him.  Everybody who dealt with him, respected him.  Everybody who had the pleasure of being in his company felt loved and respected too because that’s how he lived his life, as giving love and respect is the only way of getting it back.

I will miss Keli, but as I watch the Rockies this season and beyond, I will remember him as a tremendous and outstanding man, and a great friend.

Say Hey Willie Mays

I love Willie Mays.  It’s just too bad that he’s a Giant.

I have had the privilege and honor of being Willie’s friend for many years, and although we were rivals, I respect him tremendously as one of the best ever to play baseball. People ask me who the greatest player ever was and I always answer with two names: Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.

Willie and I were also teammates.  We played in Winter Ball together in Cuba for Almendares.  We also played against each other in Winter Ball in Puerto Rico.  In fact, I struck Willie out with one of my curveballs, and to this day when I remind him of that he replies, “Struck me out? Was I dead?!”

Willie once wrote me letter, and in that letter he said, “Do you remember that homerun I hit off you in Puerto Rico?  It still hasn’t landed!”

I don’t know about that, but I do know that Willie was an amazing player, and I love him very much.

Happy 79th birthday, Willie.