No one would ever compare Jack Luce to Babe Ruth (though I am about to), but that was who was he resembled when he joined the Lamar Blue Jays men's baseball team for its doubleheader with my team, the Aroma Express, at the Granby ballpark that summer Sunday in June 1983.
Jack was a big man, and his ball shirt couldn't decide whether it wanted to be tucked in or remain outside.
Having dealt with Jack during my coverage of the Lamar High School girls basketball team he coached, I struck up a conversation with him as both teams warmed up before the game.
Warming up was not really necessary, since the temperature that day was in the low 90s and sweat was already dripping down Jack's face. "I didn't know you played for this team" I said.
"I don't normally. They were a couple of guys short and asked me if I wanted to play. They talked me into it. I thought it might be fun." Jack wiped off the sweat with his sleeve. "I haven't played in years," he said. "I used to love to play the game."
Somewhere in the boxes and baskets and drawers full of old news clippings, photos, scorebooks, etc., I have in my apartment is the scorecard from that day.
Jack only played the first game of the doubleheader. He batted three times, and if memory serves correctly, he only swung the bat three times. Each time, the ball soared out of our bandbox ballpark. Admittedly, the dimensions of the ballpark were closer to Little League than Busch Stadium, but no one else hit one out that day.
Since I was the Aroma Express' designated hitter in that second game, I took advantage of the opportunity to talk to Jack while my team was out on the field.
"Man, I'm tired," he said. "It's been a long time since I did this."
"You must have been a heck of a player," I said.
"Naw," he said with a hint of modesty. "I wonder what I could do if I could get back into shape." I looked at him to see if he was kidding, but his face was stone cold serious. Then a trace of a smile emerged and within seconds, he was laughing out loud.
I don't remember Jack playing for the Lamar baseball team the rest of the year, though he may have.I prefer to think he left the game with three swings and three home runs.
Jack Luce died Wednesday at age 61.