HOUSTON – I have several birthday dates I ALWAYS REMEMBER. One is September 2. It was the birthday of my best high school pal. He was one of those guys. One of the guys who just happened to move in across the street from us when I WAS 5. He had a younger sister and his dad always whistled for them on the front porch when it was time for them to go home. He was very smart but never got really good grades because he really didn't try very hard. The rest of us in the neighborhood took school seriously. He didn't. We were all Cubs fans and he liked the Yankees. It was unfair because his team won the World Series every year and our team was lucky to finish ahead of the Pirates. That would be 7th in an 8 team National League.
He was the best athlete in our high school. He was the captain of the football and basketball teams and was the best pitcher on the baseball team. When I PITCHED, he played 1st base, thus becoming the best 1st baseman in the high school league we were in. He could bowl with pros and hit a golf ball 300 yards. We hated how easy everything was for him. He tried college but it wasn't for him so he joined the Army. 101st AIRBOURNE IN NAM. He made it back without a scratch.
I LOST TRACK of him in the next few years, but at a HIGH SCHOOL REUNION I got a phone call. I could barely understand the caller. It was him. He was dying of cancer. I NEVER heard from him again. Happy Birthday. I'll tip one for you tonight.