Monday, August 8, 2022

Bryant Young: We Continue to Speak His Name

At the conclusion of his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech, Forty Niners legend Bryant Young used his platform to offer a few life lessons. A gentle man off the field, he was anything but that on the gridiron. His posture is remarkable, and his presence is noteworthy. When BY speaks, people listen. From Canton, Ohio he said,

  • From my pain, I’ve found purpose.
  • Letting someone grab my hand is as important as reaching for theirs.
  • In an isolated world, personal connections matter more than ever.
  • I keep my gaze on Christ and pour myself into good works.
  • I’ve learned to trust God’s timing and not mine.

While these lessons relate to his experience as an athlete, the most meaningful one came not from a teammate or coach, owner, fan or from football. This lesson was born from a profound loss, a personal tragedy. It is heart wrenching, and it is Hall of Fame worthy. I need to hear that and remember it. It is just this: “we continue to speak his name.” 

Bryant Colby Young, Sr. was a defensive tackle who played 14 years in the NFL with the same team: the San Francisco 49ers. A consensus All-American at the University of Notre Dame, they drafted Young seventh overall in the 1994 draft. He was a four time pro bowler and the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 1999. He is the 29th 49er to earn the gold jacket.

At Notre Dame, Young graduated with a degree in marketing and met his wife, Kristin. They have been together for 31 years and have six children.

Standing 6’3" tall and weighing in at 305 lbs, the most obvious word to describe BY is “strong.” As noted by the former owner Eddie DeBartolo, “Young was always double teamed, if not triple teamed!” However, Young’s physical strength pales compared to something else. The man has an inner strength that allowed him to admit his vulnerability, share the adversity he has withstood and cry several times on stage. 

As mentioned in his speech, on August 11, 2016, Bryant Colby Young, Jr.—Kristin and Bryant’s eldest son—went home to heaven. Their words, not mine. After the first headache in 2014, Colby died of a brain tumor that returned and spread “too far, too fast.”

BY said “He didn’t fear death, as much as the process of dying. He wondered, Would it be painful? Would he be remembered? We assured Colby we’d keep his memory alive and continue speaking his name.” 

BY said the name Colby fourteen times in his speech. He honored him with the words, “Colby, you live in our hearts. We will always speak your name.” He has. He did. He will. 

I believe one of the most important ways to remember a person is to know, say, and share their name. For some, it might be too painful, but to speak a person’s name affirms their humanity. It honors their story and preserves their personhood. Colby was a son, brother, athlete, cook and friend. He may no longer be with his parents and siblings but by continuing to say his name, BY was right: he lives.

Professional football players are eligible for the Hall of Fame five years after their retirement. During this tenth year of eligibility, Canton, Ohio, gave the nod to #97, Bryant Young. Many believe that BY deserved to be a first year ballot inductee. But as noted by BY, he has learned to trust God’s timing.

Bryant Young is a proud member of the Class of 2022. Upon congratulating his classmates, he said, “Colby’s favorite number was #22.” 

Once again, BY continued to say his name....and we—his fans and followers — make the connection.

I am grateful to have followed and shared in Bryant Young’s Hall of Fame journey. From school in South Bend to his time in the Bay Area, I have always held great respect and admiration for one of the game’s greatest. I have shared his testimony about Colby’s own journey with my students. I would like the Young family to know I too will continue to say his name; I hope that others do the same.

This might be on the most important things we as Christians can do. Those we love and have lost live in our hearts. To say one’s name is to offer the same prayer as one we pray at Mass: 

Christ has died. Christ IS risen. Christ will come again.
So too it is with Bryant Colby Young, Jr. Congratulations and thank you to Bryant Colby Young, Sr. 

Photo Credits
Young Family
HOF Congrats
BY Wave
Colby

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Retiring of #22 in Honor of Will Clark: Fire and Beauty

Go to any Giants game—home or away—and you're sure to see a legion of fans wearing a white, cream, gray or black jersey in honor of #22 Will Clark. Clark, played eight of his 15 years in MLB with the orange and black. He had a tremendous career as a Giant, turning around a team "that accumulated a dry spell of 15 straight seasons without a playoff appearance or even a finish higher than third place in the NL West (SJ Mercury News)" Will was named MVP of the 1989 NLCS, but the Giants were swept by the Oakland A's in the fabled Bay Bridge Series. The World Series ring he wears was earned by other players. 

Still, I encourage you to see for yourself. Take your own straw poll of Giants' jerseys and I guarantee you'll see the likes of Mays (24), Posey (25), and even MadBum (40). Those names and the rings that accompany them, speak for themselves. So what gives? Why do countless men and women cite Will Clark as their favorite player? Why is his jersey evergreen? Two words: Fire and Beauty.

During the game, a variety of Bay Area celebrities from James Hetfield, the lead singer of Metallica to basketball great, Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors weighed in with their congratulations by way of video tributes. Nine out of 10 of them used the same word to describe Will the Thrill: intense. At one point, I thought "can't they be more creative?" The answer is "no." I'm the one who missed the point. 

Bob Brenley, Al Rosen, and Kevin Mitchell each described Will as intense because he was. It was his signature, a fire that burned brightly. From his trademark eye black to the way he channeled his 20 x 12 vision behind the plate, every pitcher, TV camera man, manager, and baseball fan could see just how focused Clark was when he came to bat. And that intensity produced results. Will's lifetime batting average is .303. I will never forget the day in 1989 when he lost the NL batting title in the final game of the season. Will finished the season with a .333 average. Tony Gwynn, who collected eight batting titles in his career took it with a .336 average. All intensity aside, I have a feeling even Will was able to tip his hat to one of the game's greatest hitters, and he did as the game was among the two teams. 

It's worth mentioning that Clark brought the same intensity and fire to the both sides of the game. As a Giant, he earned two Silver Sluggers (1989, ’91) and a Gold Glove (’91). One of his career highlights at the retirement ceremony featured Will crashing into the cameras along the first base line to make the out. He emerged from a virtual handstand in the media box with the ball in his glove. Unfazed, Clark tossed the ball back to the pitcher ready to get the next out. Intensity 2.0

However, fire isn't always friendly. Clark's intensity was known to create conflict in the clubhouse. For example, his relationship with other strong personalities such Jeffrey Leonard and Barry Bonds were often cited as problematic and potentially racist. Over time, both sides have admitted they needed to fan the flames. They did and it was a sight to see both men standing by his side at the ceremony. Bonds' words were heartfelt. The hugs they exchanged were not forced or fake. They were strong and sincere. Just one mark of the fire... and the beauty.

As many times as one heard the word "intense," it's worth noting no one spoke of Will Clark without mentioning beauty. Why? How? Will Clark had a beautiful swing. It was fluid. It was long and it was strong. It even has a name! The Nuschler—Will's middle name, which is a family surname.

One might think, so what? A swing ought to be effective. It's objective it is to make contact and get hits. Whether or not it's beautiful is inconsequential. Right? Wrong. 

Baseball can be slow. There's a lot of dead time. Outs are routine. Plays to the infield and the outfield come and they go. However, the game is punctuated by action and reaction. And infrequently that action is characterized by something beautiful. 

Will's left handed swing—one that hit to all parts of the field— was a thing of beauty. You wanted to watch him hit because of his intensity, and it was hard not to watch because it was so beautiful. 

There are but a few players I can name who have a swing as beautiful as Will Clark's; those belong to Darryl Strawberry, Mr. San Diego himself and from what I've read—Ted Williams. I invite you to look for beauty in baseball and other sports—golf, basketball, football and swimming. And look back at Will Clark's swing to point the way.

The San Francisco Giants do it right. They spared no expense in the ritual and ceremony of a great day—one that was  highly emotional for Will Clark and fans like me who are lucky enough to have seen, been a part of and still hold the memories he made. There was fire. It was beautiful.

Before Will exited the field in a 1957 Chevy Convertible to the tune of B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone," he was asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch. His son, William Nuschler Clark, III—Trey—was there to catch the ball. Before the wind up, Will's intense gaze looked at the plate. This was a man ready to throw a strike. However, Trey who has Autism and struggles with spatial navigation missed the catch. If you didn't know better, it looked remiss. But all I could see was Will charging to the plate to give his son a massive hug. The result of that pitch was completely inconsequential. It was a beautiful moment...another sight to see. It was the Fire of Will the Thrill standing on the field and the beauty of the relationships to others and to the game that has left a Giants footprint forever on our hearts. Thank you, Will "the Thrill" Clark. #22

Photo Credits
Mercury News
22
Intensity
Sweet Swing

Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Wide World of Sports and Spirituality: Killarney, Kerry vs Galway and Why We Should Pray

For nearly 40 years, millions of Americans tuned into ABC every Sunday night to watch the "Wide World of Sports." The sports anthology covered the stories, achievements, results and records of athletes and teams, trials and errors both near and far. Today's practicum of Sports and Spirituality has me convinced I might be able to host my own version of this program.

I write this on the tenth day of my 14 day golf trip. I am in Ireland with 13 other women from my golf club. Last Sunday we were in Dublin and played 18 holes of golf at Portmarnock Golf Links. Following our round, I went to Mass at St. Mary's of the Angels with two friends. I would describe this venture as Sports and Spirituality in its most traditional form.

Unfortunately, I had to sit out today's round at Waterville Golf Links due to a health issue. This was not the only surprise of the day. The way Sports and Spirituality found me was, too! 

I went to mass at the Franciscan Friary in Killarney. I looked at the priest on the altar and thought to myself "this is why the Church is hurting in Ireland. No wonder fewer people are attending mass." He was quite elderly. I assumed he would be removed from the people and simply going through the motions. I am almost crying as I write and admit that judgment. In him, I found a priest who was a true celebrant of the mass. He was a teacher and a preacher. I left feeling like I was one of his athletes and he was my coach. 

In light of today's Gospel reading, he spoke about the utter importance of prayer. He urged us to pray saying "when we stop praying, we forget how much we are loved. Prayer is communication with Our Father in heaven who is love and loves us." He reminded us to persevere in prayer, "for if you don't pray, you don't have the chance for God who loves you to tell you He loves you." What a remarkable reason to pray. What a valuable insight to live and learn. What an important teaching to pass on to others. Thank you, Padre.

What a wonderful way for a young person to learn how to pray.

He suggested that we begin our day by praying the Our Father. This is the prayer that Jesus taught us. Everything we need to know is in this prayer. "Make some time in the middle of your day to say it again and if you can pray the Our Father with a family member at the end of your day." He then added a recommendation for families. "Pray Grace before meals together. While your food may have come from (insert the name of the local Irish market here), ultimately God is the giver of all gifts." I appreciated his practical prayer advice. Anyone can pray those prayers. Any Christian ought to pray those prayers. Again, thank you Father!

At the conclusion of Mass, Father asked the congregation to take a seat for announcements. In Ireland, it is customary to announce the names of those who died in the past week. I picked up from the homily that this was a community in mourning as one young man died by suicide. His name was the first mentioned and was not to be forgotten. This announcement was followed by "The Requiem prayer."  As a congregation, they said

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

He thanked the choir for their beautiful music, which prompted applause from the congregation. This applause however, was outdone by the clapping I heard following his final prayer. 


In his beautiful Irish brogue, he said "God loves us, one and all, but let us pray today for our own Kerry in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship." His words put an enthusiastic charge into the final blessing. "The mass is ended. Let us go to love and serve the Lord and one another." It was met by clapping and a joyful "amen." I realized the feeling in my heart at that moment wasn't all that dissimilar to how I feel at a great sports event. It speaks in both sports and spirituality. Blessed be.

If I were to run a weekly show on Sports and Spirituality, I would love to profile communities of faith like the one I encountered in Killarney, Ireland. I would like for people to see their passion for a sport as unique as All-Ireland Senior Football or hurling. I want people to hear the message of an outstanding preacher and spiritual coach, like the one I met today. There's a very wide world...let the anthology begin!

And Congratulations to Kerry for defeating Galway 0- 20 to 0-16. Ideally, the S&S Wide World of Sports would explain the scoring....

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Golf in Ireland: The Benefits of Blue Space--yes, Blue

"Finding Forrester" is the story of a reclusive author, William Forrester, who lives a lonely life until he begins to mentor an unlikely suspect. Forrester, played by the late Sir Sean Connery,  advises the budding novelist, “No thinking - that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is... to write, not to think!”

Those words have stayed with me since I saw the film. I had no idea they would come in handy the way that they have. Over the years, I have reminded myself of the "first key to writing." I have passed that advice on to countless students, especially those who admit their paper is late because writing is hard. It is! However, his sage wisdom gives a person a place to start. And truth be told, I need that, too. 

I haven't blogged in nearly a month. I have contributed to this blog regularly since December 2009; thus, this pause is troubling. So like any habit that needs reset, let's ease back into it. Here's what I would like to share!

Known as a the Emerald Isle, Ireland boldly claims to host 40 shades of green. In my week here, I have seen the variants on the country's hillsides, fairways and even bogs. At times the green is piercing!  It's brilliant. It's good for you too. No doubt green is a golfer's friend, but one of the best golf experiences of my life didn't reinforce the value of it. No, golf at Old Head Golf Links revealed the grace of blue space.

Gretchen Rubin writes “Basically the cooler cousin of green space. Aka, bodies of water (think: rivers, lakes, or oceans) that are typically accessible to everyone. Studies show that those who visit or live near blue spaces tend to be happier and more relaxed. And staring at the ocean — or even smelling the sea breeze — can actually put your brain into a meditative state. Om-mazing.”

The blue space I encountered beside, below, around and next to me at Old Head Golf Links was down right mystical. During several moments of the 4 hour and 30 minute round all I could see what blue. What a gift to behold such beauty. 

Old Head offers much more than "savage views" (direct quote from my caddy, Aodhán). As written on their website

Occupying a stunning and unique headland reaching out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the Old Head of Kinsale is home to the most spectacular world-class golf courses in the world. Located in County Cork on the South West Coast of Ireland, as the incredible brainchild of the late John O'Connor together with his brother Patrick, the Club has developed into one of the most recognised and sought after golf experiences anywhere on earth.

Its fourth hole is ranked by Golf Digest as number three on "the 18 undisputed, unchallenged, scientifically factual best golf holes in the world." Perhaps "proximity to blue space" ought to be considered in their criteria.

I have long taught about the value of green space. As written on Why More Green Space Is Essential for Cities

Green space is associated with a large number of health benefits, including lower premature mortality, longer life expectancy, fewer mental health problems, less cardiovascular disease, better cognitive functioning in children and the elderly, and healthier babies. It also helps to mitigate air pollution, heat and noise levels, and provides opportunities for physical exercise and social interaction.

My only qualifier is that you don't have the color green without blue. I live in a city surrounded by blue and make an effort to take it in. Thank you, Ireland for offering both--in abundance. 

And yes, I plan on rewatching "Finding Forrester" on the plane trip home. 

Photo Credits

Old Head

Thursday, June 30, 2022

What I Learned and Did Not Learn from the Golden State Warriors: 2022 NBA Champions

Upon winning his fourth NBA Championship, Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors was asked what this tough series made him learn about himself. The 6'6" Forward said "I didn't learn anything about myself, I been knew I was resilient." 

His answer garnered little to no surprise from his teammates (see how Steph Curry shakes his head in amused understanding). As a coach and a teacher, my reaction was much different. I thought to myself "that's a terrible thing to say. How do you not learn something about yourself in all of this?" I gave a massive eye roll; my patience for Day-Day often runs thin. And then the more, I thought about it—considering what his teammates and coaches said— I realized he's absolutely right. 

One need not be a Dubs fan to know that Draymond Green is resilient. Seldom one to back down, Green blocked, rebounded and drew a whole lot of fouls from the start to the final minute. In fact, every one of his teammates did what we already know they do to defeat the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Celtics. They probably didn't learn anything about themselves either. Klay made clutch threes and Steph did the same—all while leading the offense and dishing to new teammates Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. 

After the interview with Green, Lisa Salter asked Wiggins the same question. The Canadian Forward paused and said, "I learned it's hard to win a championship."

Did it take a victory for Wiggs to learn just how hard it is to win? Probably not. There's nothing easy about earning the championship title. Greatness always comes at a cost. I imagine the experience affirmed the hard work, physical and mental demands and personal sacrifices he has put forth day in and day out for years. 

We know this, too. In that moment, I wanted every young American to take notice and listen. I don't know that I need the reminder but question asked of Green and Wiggins did that. So often students want the "A" without putting in excellent effort and athletes was the win without making and taking the sacrifice. Thank you, Lisa.

So, what did the players learn about themselves? And what did we the fans learn?

In the final moments of Game 6, Steph Curry broke down. This break down was not an injury that removed him from the hardwood or caused the offense to collapse. No. As written for USA.Today.com 

But before Curry once again got his very deserved flowers for a 34-point, seven-assist, seven-rebound clinching Game 6 performance against the Celtics, the prolific point guard had to find some time to bask in the moment in the most human way. Curry broke down into tears in the closing seconds once he officially realized Golden State had climbed the mountaintop once again. 
I should not have been surprised at this display of raw emotion, but it has stayed with me. I learned what a burden he may have been carrying all year. He said at the "Beginning of the season, nobody thought we'd be here except everybody on this floor right now." I learned what drove him and got a sense of the toll that takes. 

For the first time, Curry earned the Finals MVP award. No one could argue otherwise. When the trophy was given to him, he kept shaking his head as if to suggest a big "yes. please. thank you. you're welcome."

Every Golden State Warriors championship: 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022 does not happen without Steph Curry. He is the starting point guard and their best shooter. Furthermore, Steph is the consummate sportsman. He comports himself on and off the court with integrity and total class. It's not that he is staid or hard to read, but this moment  Steph was so human and I dare say, so holy.

Why holy? Because Steph showed us what can happen when we will the one thing. He willed the win in Game 4, a turning point for the Dubs in the series. The man gave his heart, body and soul without compromise to what he loves to do and was created to be: a great athlete, an outstanding teammate. This is beauty in motion and sport at its best. To say otherwise is to deny Creator the glory of what the Creator has created. 

How is it possible that the Golden State Warriors, the 2022 NBA Champions both taught us nothing and yet so much. Such is the story of this historic season. Thank you Dubs! 

Photo Credits
Steph holding trophy
Wiggs holding trophy

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Three Reasons to Get Behind Golden State: Go Warriors!

Bay Area sports fans are donning royal blue and bright yellow today as the Golden State Warriors take on the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Whether or not you follow the Dubs, regardless of any affiliation you may or may not have to the Boston Garden, I would like to offer three reasons you should consider paying attention, leaning in, checking out and cheering for the Western Conference Champions: GSW.

Joy
There's a singular quality about the Warriors which draws people in. It's a core value of the head coach, Steve Kerr. It's palpable. It's infectious and it's real: joy.

If you have watched any of the past five games, not to mention the playoff games leading up to the finals, you know how intense it has been on the hardwood. The players are fiercely competitive and incredibly physical. Tempers flare, temperatures rise. Officials are necessary to keep things cool but too often, they fan the flames. In spite of it all, media and sports talk radio continues to report on the joy the Warriors bring—to one another and to their fans.

It must be liberating to have joy on your side. But what does this mean and how do we know if we have it?

According to Kerr, "joy means losing oneself in the game and letting it take you away." 

Andre Igoudala added "We play a game and it is a job, but when you're having fun—there is no other feeling like that. You're not afraid. You're not worried about missing a shot or what could go wrong. There are no negative thoughts." 

As a fan, I see joy as a byproduct of balance. To me, the Warriors have the perfect mix of set plays and improvisation. The players take shots we expect them to make and others we never saw coming. What happens in between? There's the joy...and pain!

The joyful dance on the hardwood unfolds with a certain freedom because every player knows his role on the team. There is trust among the athletes to take on their role and a healthy respect for the role of others.

As one Warrior said, "There is a spirit that is infectious out there on the court. Taking pride and excitement in each others' successes, not just your own. That's what makes our team go...playing with joy. When you combine all those ingredients, it's brings out the best in all of us."

Sounds like a great description of joy to me. Thank you Dubs!

From Agitator to Animator
Draymond Green makes a name for himself year round, but the playoffs seem to trigger him from animator to agitator. 

As the animator, his competitive spirit drives the team. It's a controlled fire, a passion that gives life late in the third quarter or when the team trails by ten. This is Green at his best!

Its shadow side prods and provides. An agitator gets under the skin of the opponent and that's on them to react and respond. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but at its worst, agitation leads to distraction and breeds contempt. The negativity debilitates the agitator, causes conflict and can quickly get out of control. 

ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins has been critical of Green. When asked what advice he had for #23 he said 

Draymond, it is time for you to lose yourself in the team.  Be that emotional leader. Be the heart and soul of the team (read: animator). We know that Steph is the best player on the team, but when it comes to leadership it's about Draymond. Other guys are watching you: Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, these younger guys are watching you. 

If he's not having a good game, he still needs to be an extension of Steve Kerr and the coaching staff. They need him to  make sure he leads those other guys to do their part. 

Draymond, don't let those emotions get in the way of leading the young core of players on this team!

Coach Kerr who loves and respects Draymond for who he is ought to give him one simple reminder: animate, don't agitate. 

Courage and Life
I miss seeing both of Steph Curry's parents sitting together in the stands. Having Sonya and Dell Curry on the "sidelines" personalized the professional game. They are still there, both in spirit and sitting separately.

Since their divorce, the mother of the future Hall of Famer shared her own life lessons. One in particular is quite poignant. Cerith Gardiner of 
Aleteia writes

34 years ago, Curry’s mom, Sonya, nearly came close to aborting her son. In her book, Fierce Love: A Memoir of Family, Faith, and Purpose, the mom of three explained that having already had an abortion while in high school, she found herself pregnant again.

As she was about to enter a Planned Parenthood clinic, she felt the Holy Spirit intervene, according to a report in Daily Citizen:

“God had a plan for that child. There could be no Stephen. If I would have gone through that there would have been no Wardell Stephen Curry II.”

It could also be said that God certainly had a plan for Sonya, too. Through her own experience, the basketball star’s mom has now been able to share her story with so many others, and maybe inspire them, too, in difficult life decisions.

As she shared with People, “I wrote Fierce Love to share my story, my testimony, and my experience so that others may find strength and purpose in their own journeys. I want to encourage others to pray continuously, live intentionally, love fiercely, and laugh daily.”

And thanks to her decision to follow God’s path, Sonya has blessed the basketball world with a true sporting hero, and taught him the fundamentals in life. As Curry shared: “From the beginning, my mom has been a rock of encouragement, faith, discipline, and gratitude for me and my siblings.”

I think it takes a lot of courage to share this story, as it does to take on an unwanted pregnancy. 
We will be hearing a lot about that reality as the Dobbs decision comes down in the weeks to come. I want restrictions on guns and I want them on abortion. You might find that overly simplistic, but I do believe we can and should protect the rights of the unborn. I also think we need to do a great deal more to help women—whether is Sonya Curry or someone who could never share her story. I keep reminding myself of the words of Mr. Rogers, Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. Let us help one another to live in a place where abortion need never even be a choice a woman might have to make.

Before Tip Off Remember
Joy, Animation, Courage and Life.....not a bad cocktail to hold in our hand. I can certainly raise a glass to that...and I plan to. Go Warriors!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Memory, Time and Perfection: Thank you, Matt Cain

While I am aware the modern understanding of time is based on Einstein's theory of relativity, can someone help me get a grasp on how memory works? 

I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday or how I spent last week and yet there are events that occurred five or fifteen years ago that are frozen in time. The perfect game thrown by San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain 10 years from today is one of them.

I imagine legions of baseball fans have miraculous plays and specific games etched in their mind's eye. No doubt a perfect game—a game in which the pitcher completes a minimum of nine innings without a batter from the opposing team reaching any base—ought to qualify for memory lock. It was the first and only perfect game in San Francisco (and New York) Giants history. Thank you, Matty!

For Bay Area residents, June 13, 2012 was just one event in a week that made us feel as though any search for center of the universe would show the Bay. For one, the 112th US Open took place at the Olympic Club on the west side of the city. On June 12, the Giants celebrated Irish Night at the yard by welcoming Rory McIlroy to throw the first pitch. One day later, Dustin Johnson, one of the top golfers in the world joined Matt Cain behind home plate to tee it up. AT&T Park became a driving range with a dramatic target— the McCovey Cove waterway up and over the right field bleachers. Cain admitted this pregame warm-up was one reason he was so relaxed that evening. Note to coaches and managers....

I remember all of it. In high def, in 3-D, in living color. Go Giants!

June can be warm and free of the fog that characterizes the coldest winter Mark Twain event spent. On this night the temperatures were warm and the skies were almost heavy. I can still see and feel it. How is that possible?

I remember a certain buzz started percolating in the sixth inning around the status of this game; the no hit watch was on. At first, the conversation was purely speculation. I thought, there's a lot of baseball left! My friend Heather texted me to tell me her husband was at the game. I was so excited for the Giants and for him!

As Cain continued to put three up and three down, nerves, jitters, excitement and joy reached a boiling point. Gregor Blanco's spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning not only preserved the perfect game, it sent emotions and amazement over the top. After the game Matt Cain asked the right fielder "What can I give you as a thank you gift? A Rolex? Down payment on a house?" Love it.

This once in a lifetime feat, in the midst of one of my favorite sporting events of the year prompted magical conversations on this day—the day after the perfect game: June 14, 10 yeas ago!

Last week I attended my college twenty-fifth plus one year reunion at Notre Dame. It was such a gift to have time with my classmates to reconnect, recall stories and share stories. The biggest surprise wasn't how people look or what became of so and so, it was what I could remember and what I couldn't. I pride myself on having a good memory and I could hardly believe some of the details about classes and teachers, dorm life and people my friends and I discussed. This was both humbling and inspiring. Memory is not a given. Hold on to what you can!

The poet Virgil wrote, “No Day Shall Erase You From the Memory of Time.” Time may or may not fade our memories. The passage of time can deepen out appreciation for what we have been given. And yet, his words, from Book IX of "The Aeneid" suggest the transformative potential of remembrance. So let us exercise our memory and celebrate the milestones—whether it be a perfect game, 25 year reunion or the first month of sobriety for in them lies the potential for transformation, gratitude, inspiration and joy.

Thank you, Matt Cain. Thank you, Gregor Blanco. Thank you DJ and all those who played some part in perfection 10 years ago!

Photo Credits
10 years
Perfect