I have always believed in the concept that the afterlife is what you want it to be. It is your personal heaven. If you like to fish, you will have streams and pristine rivers filled with fish. If you loved baseball, you will go daily to the ballpark and see the best of the game take the field… But, for me, I have always loved horse racing. I hope that I will be surrounded with any and all friends that go on to this big track in the sky, and watch Seabiscuit face up against War Admiral, and Shoemaker outduel Issac Murphy. That would be my place. But, there are many roads to follow, and many races yet to be run. But, wouldn’t it be nice to think of such a happy place for horse fans?
This past summer, I wrote a blog about a wonderful man. I only met him a handful of times, but he left an impression that will last a lifetime. He was introduced to me by my compadre John Engelhardt. This gent was a friend of his brother Bob, and it carried over to the younger brother over the years. John introduced me, and from that point on, I always enjoyed the visits from Mr. Bob Summers of The Buffalo News.
Summers wrote a column called “The Happy Handicapper.” He was a large man, who looked like a pro football player in his day. His voice commanded respect, and his delivery was as gentle as a lamb. He was witty and sharp, and always had a comeback that would leave no harm. Just laughter in the room, and left you wanting to hear more. Bob was a welcome guest. He spoke of racing like it was his second love.
My new friend spoke of this year’s Triple Crown, and had agreed to be our special guest on our radio show. It was a time that I really looked forward to, and I knew that our listeners would enjoy the racing wisdom of one of the good guys. It was getting to be Belmont time, and Bob was going to be watching the race at home…..But, he promised a full and comprehensive look at the field.
The Engelhardts are the kind of people you would invite to a party. First and foremost, there is an old saying that God invented Irishmen to bring us laughter and joy. Well, they held true to that saying, and I have had the honor of meeting three of them. All are cut from the same cloth, and they always left a room happier than it was before. John introduced me, and for that I am thankful. It is on this day, that I look back not in sorrow or regret, but in the joy of what the year has brought. Bob Summers was one of those people who stuck out in my mind when my feet hit the floor today. He loved racing, and like the Engelhardt clan, he could leave a room a kinder place. I sure will miss this new friend that I met so briefly in passing. But sometimes, they are the best kind.
So, many moons from now when my time comes, I hope I will get to make it to that “Big Press Box” in the sky. I will mix and mingle with some of the great ones, and hopefully I will run into Bob again. We can watch Aristides win the opener, and talk about who will finish the double. If you had the opportunity to meet Bob, you were lucky…and if not in this world, maybe in the next. He will be the big guy watching the races with his binoculars.
Thanks, John for the introduction, and thank you Mr. Summers for taking time to talk about the sport we love. See you at the races ……