August 3, 2014 in Sports

Grip on Sports: A great honor for the great Steve Gleason

A Grip On Sports
 
File photo

Steve Gleason, middle in red hat and wearing No. 34, takes part in the flag raising while flanked by his parents prior to the 2011 Arizona State game in Pullman.
(Full-size photo)

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Vince Grippi has an opinion about everything local, especially sports. Every Sunday we provide samples of his daily riffs. Read him daily at spokesman.com/sportslink.

Friday: The Cougars will induct one person into their athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.

Just one.

Is it the greatest WSU athlete ever? Nope. Is it a record-setter on the field? No again. How about someone who produced the most memorable moment in school history? Sorry, no. None of those things.

This year’s lone inductee just happens to be the best role model to ever wear the school colors. That is what Steve Gleason brings to the table. He also is arguably the toughest son of a gun to ever walk through the halls of Bohler Gym. Even if these days he has to roll through them. Who gives a damn?

Steve Gleason is, at this very moment, everything you should ever want to be. Everything I should ever want to be and I’m old enough to be his dad.

No one knows what cards we are going to be dealt as we travel through this journey known as life. For years, Gleason was dealing with all aces and kings. The star athlete at Gonzaga Prep. A two-sport hero. The star athlete at Washington State. A two-sport standout. The professional football player. A guy credited with the special teams play that reignited a city’s passion for its team. Aces.

Then, somehow, the wrong card turned over. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS, the terminal disease that may just be the cruelest malady a human being can suffer. The mind loses control of the body. Lou Gehrig’s disease. Steve Gleason may never have stood up at Yankee Stadium and told everyone he feels like the luckiest man in the world but he made the rest of us feel that way. Just by getting to talk with him. To listen to him. To watch him.

He has not hidden from the disease. He has not hidden from us. He’s stepped front and center, even as he’s slowly lost the ability to do things you and I take for granted every day. Just last week he was challenging the folks at Microsoft to create devices and technologies to help people who can’t physically help themselves. To reach beyond the day-to-day and make the world a better place.

If that’s not Hall-of-Fame worthy, just by itself, I don’t know what is. But it’s just the tip of what Gleason’s accomplished since he discovered his fate. The accomplishments are too numerous to enumerate here, but take my word for it. The world, our world, is a better place because Steve Gleason is in it. And, if that’s not Hall-of-Fame worthy, nothing is.

So kudos to WSU athletic director Bill Moos – and to WSU’s decision. The school is taking an extraordinary step to honor an extraordinary man. Steve Gleason. The greatest role model Cougar athletics has ever produced.

Wednesday: How often does this Mariner offense score four times in one inning?

Not often is the correct answer.

But that’s what happened yesterday. And I missed it.

Yep, in the middle of making dinner last night I flipped off the TV for just a few minutes. When I clicked it back on, it was 4-0 M’s and dinner was officially perfect. Heck, I could have burned the meat and it still would have been perfect. I did get to see Mike Zunino’s solo home run, though that’s not a rarity. Neither is a Zunino strikeout, but we’re trying to stay positive here. The 5-2 win at Cleveland, with Hisashi Iwakuma dealing as he usually does, made it a good day.

But the news I saw on Twitter a while later made it a very good day. Vin Scully isn’t retiring just yet. The long-time voice of the Dodgers will be back next year for his 66th season with the team.

Scully was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame 32 years ago, before most of today’s players were even born. And he still can describe the action as well as most. He’s not what he was, sure, but no 86-year-old is. But he’s still a joy to listen to and, with the advancements technology has brought us, you still can – even if you don’t live in Los Angeles.

Every once in a while I check in with a Dodger broadcast, if only to hear Vin say words “hello, everybody.” And to hear Scully compare Clayton Kershaw’s fastball to not only great fastballs in Dodger history but also to the works of Monet or Mozart.

Like those artists, Scully has a gift and he’s shared it for 65 years. Luckily for us, there will be a 66th.


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