Nicky Rico, mille grazie amico !

Nick Rico for 50 years has been doling wisdom on the ball diamond. At 84, he still is vibrant and enthusiastic. We had a chance to say mille grazie last night. 60 did so. A few remarks on the event.

I look out on this room tonight and I do not see

Jim Ridley                  Freddy Fess         Mel Legg

Alfie Payne                Sam Luchetta       Charlie Hughes

John Gartley              Jack Spafford       Kenny Baycroft

Eddy Terry                  Dick Krol

Jimmy Warden           Jack Wilson

and you can name others, people who we played with and against, people who coached you —those who shared our passion for The Summer Game.

An evening like ths is simply the ever-present reminder that we pass this way but once and as Horace’s (died 8 BCE) ’Latin phrase puts it so well  Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future“.  The ancients with their primitive health care, their vulnerability to a host of diseases we’ve long conquered, really understood the brevity of life.

in another of his odes in words you all remember from your grade 12 Latin, the wise Horace said     Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus” (“Now is the time to drink, now the time to dance footloose upon the earth”).

People today often fall prey to the cult of youth so prevalent in our culture. We can not existentially grasp that we will not live for ever…so we put off many important things like relationships and acts of gratitude.

Seneca another Roman (died 65  CE) wrote wisely: 

The majority of mortals, Paulinus,1 complain bitterly of the spitefulness of Nature, because we are born for a brief span of life, because even this space that has been granted to us rushes by so speedily and so swiftly that all save a very few find life at an end just when they are getting ready to live. Nor is it merely the common herd and the unthinking crowd that bemoan what is, as men deem it, an universal ill; the same feeling has called forth complaint also from men who were famous. It was this that made the greatest of physicians exclaim that “life is short, art is long;”it was this that led Aristotle, while expostulating with Nature, to enter an indictment most unbecoming to a wise man—that, in point of age, she has shown such favour to animals that they drag out five or ten lifetimes,4 but that a much shorter limit is fixed for man, though he is born for so many and such great achievements.It is not that we have a short space of  time, but that we waste much of it.

 Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment>of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it….

Males of course are not very good at expressing our affection for each other…that is why the Creator graced us with wives, companions and significant others.We all need help to get to the heart of the matter, to what really counts.

In a forthcoming book about my downwardly mobile life in teaching i wrote in the preface

Gratitude has been absolutely central to my life and teaching. Looking back at the beginning of my 8th decade, I realize how it showed itself in teaching. I never stopped laughing and enjoying the variety of people who sat in front of me. The diversity of humanity overwhelmed me. The goodness inspired me.

i mean where else but in team sports, and I believe it is most germane to baseball because of the measured pace and the summer clime,  do you get to meet and savour so many personalities?

It was our peerless leader Carmen Bush (below with Archie French) who set the festive board for us, who made us realize that the  game is simply the place where we meet as fellow humans in relationship; that the post-mortem was just as important as the score board , that friendships crafted between foul lines were the really important things.

The poet Gwendolyn Brooks phrased this beautifully when she wrote:

We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.

Our friend Nick in his remarks last night reiterated his oft stated belief that he was just passing on Carm’s personalist philosophy which touched so many.

He gave all of us permission to come on the stage and pass the wisdom on to another generation.

A warm evening with fratello Niccolo.


1 Comment »

  1. 1

    thanks for this fine reflection.

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