Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rest in Peace Arnie

arnold palmer r.i.p.

News out this evening that Arnold Palmer passed away today at the age of 87.

When Gene Wilder passed away recently, I saw a post about it that was headlined something like Just when you thought 2016 couldn't such any worse and I'm reminded of that again now. Who didn't love Arnie? Maybe one of the most accessible sports superstars this country has ever had. He was an everyman playing that sport of the country club elite. And kicking everyone's asses too.

He looked like a movie star and had forearms like f*ckin' Popeye! People were crowing about Tiger Woods when he was at the top of his game and working out and looking good and they forgot that 30 years prior there was this guy who looked like he could bend steel bars with his bare hands ruling the tour.

And watching him play was fun too. Though in those days it was all grainy black & white tv and tape delayed and such. That tee shot . . . he swung that driver like he was trying to kill someone, cork-screwing himself around on the follow-through. How he didn't have a lifetime of back issues, I'll never know. And then that goofy knock-kneed putting stance. It makes me smile just thinking about him on the greens.

When I was a kid it was Nicklaus and Palmer and no one I knew wanted to be fat Jack. We all wanted to be the rugged looking everyman that just whacked the sh*t out of the ball and went looking for it. When I played golf for a while, I used to joke that when I got up and down for par or better without playing a single shot from the fairway -- I had made a "Palmer"

It was brutal watching him tee off at the Masters this year. But that genuine smile and the roar of the crowd for him . . . amazing. I've got tears in my eyes just typing this stuff.

He lived a long life. Achieved a lot of great things and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say a bad thing about him. One of the first sports stars to do commercials. He never seemed to take himself seriously in them, which only made him more endearing. In this day and age of spoiled petulant man-childs in sports, Arnold Palmer was a full on man -- competitive, honorable and decent. The world keeps losing people like this and no one's stepping up to fill the void. I despair thinking of the day when whiny self-indulgent jerks will be the norm in sports instead of the rare exception.

I saw a couple of quotes that I liked when I took a quick look around online prior to putting this up. One from Lee Trevino:

"I used to hear cheers go up from the crowd around Palmer, and I never knew whether he’d made a birdie or just hitched up his pants."

And one from LA Times columnist Jim Murray:

"Palmer on a golf course was Jack Dempsey with his man on the ropes, Henry Aaron with a three-and-two fastball, Rod Laver at set point, Joe Montana with a minute to play, A.J. Foyt with a lap to go and a car to catch."

Rest in Peace, Arnie. We're gonna miss you.

1 comment:

Tuerqas said...

Amen, I always loved Arnold Palmer too.