Blind New Jersey Journalist Covers World Series
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ More than 1,000 credentials were handed out to journalists covering the 1986 World Series, and Ed Lucas got two of them.
One for himself, and one for his escort.
Lucas has been blind for almost 35 years, but it hasn’t stopped him from reporting on baseball.
″It was hard getting into the field right away because everyone asked how could a blind person work in this sport, how could you see what’s happening,″ said the 47-year-old Lucas, who is reporting on the series for radio station WOBM in Toms River.
Lucas, who does interviews and locker room reports for the station, says he relies on his hearing and imagination to help make up for the fact that he doesn’t see what’s happening on the field.
″I have a pretty good perception where a ball is going once it’s hit,″ said Lucas, of Jersey City.
A lot of the knowledge has to do with Lucas’ childhood. His family lived close to the old Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City and frequently went there to watch the Jersey City Giants, Lucas said.
″I grew up loving baseball,″ said Lucas. ″I wanted to play baseball.″
Lucas played some, but not much. He was born with congenital cataracts and later suffered from glaucoma, which limited his playing time. He lost sight in his left eye at age 9 when a collision with another youth resulted in a detached retina.
Three years later while playing baseball with friends, he was hit in the right eye with the ball. The eye hemorrhaged and the retina became detached.
″I didn’t lose sight completely then,″ he said. ″But it was real blurry.″ By the end of the year, he was blind.
Lucas spent the next few months learning to cope with his handicap and got a shot in the arm the following summer from Leo Durocher of the New York Giants.
″My mother wrote Leo Durocher, and Durocher wrote back, saying come over on June 14 about 2 1/2 hours before the game,″ Lucas said. ″When I got there, a clubhouse attendant asked Leo if he should take me around the clubhouse.
″Leo said: ’He’s my guest, tell them if they want to meet him to come into my office.‴
Durocher then took Lucas into his office and put him in his swivel chair, Lucas said.
″I was on cloud nine,″ he said. ″Bobby Thomson, Whitey Lockman, Al Dark and Sal Yvars all came in and talked with him. It was really something that lifted my spirits. It was the first time I felt real good; up until then I had felt I would never do anything because I was blind.″
Later, Lucas graduated from the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind, where he helped form a baseball fan club that invited players to speak. Lucas handled the interviews, his first step into journalism.
After high school, Lucas attended Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and hosted his own radio program, ″Around The Bases With Ed Lucas.″
Since then, he has worked for WJLK in Asbury Park, part time for WOBM and written for a baseball magazine. He writes a weekly trivia column for The Hudson Dispatch called ″As I See It,″ a title he says pokes fun at himself.
″I don’t let my blindness interfere,″ said Lucas, who also sells insurance and works at a hospital part time. ″I had two wonderful parents who never let me feel sorry for myself.″