Several members of Coaches Hot Seat recently gathered before the Emerald Bowl at one of San Francisco’s oldest bars, the Balboa Cafe’ to toast some of our favorite souls that left the Earth in 2007, and as usual it was a good time for all. There really is only one way to honor people that have lived the good life, and that is to find a good bar and drink some good Kentucky bourbon whiskey, which was Maker’s Mark for this gathering. 2007 was a tough year for some of our best people, and one has to start and end a tribute to the fine men and women that are laying it on the line for us around the world, which is of course the members of our US military. In 2007 we have lost 899 people in Iraq, and we want to wish Godspeed to each and every one of them, and we hope that God is taking care of their families, especially the one’s that left young children behind. Overall, we have lost 3902 men and women in Iraq, and each one of them are precious to us, and their sacrifice should never be far from our minds. Thanks to all of you that pull on that US uniform everyday, because your sacrifice allows us to live in peace at home. Let’s all pray for an end to this conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008, but no one anywhere should doubt our resolve to fight and die for this country of ours and this grand experiment we call the United States of America.
On to the fine people that we toasted on a foggy night in San Francisco:
Art Buchwald - You made us laugh for years and there is a lot to said for that!
Molly Ivins - Another person that we could not help but laugh with and at, and someone that could give as good as she got.
Arthur Schlesinger - A chronicler of the Kennedy White House years, and a true man of the world. To be in Arthur’s presence was to be around a mind on fire, and what magnificent vigor he lived his life with.
Eddie Robinson – A giant in the game of football and life, and a man that was not going to allow the color of his skin determine how he lived his life. A true American hero, that was also one of the classiest gentlemen you would ever want to meet. We are all much richer from your time on this earth Mr. Robinson.
Terry Hoeppner- A true joy to be around, and a hell of a football coach to boot. Was anyone having more fun than Terry Hoeppner on this Earth? We don’t think so, and don’t think for a second that Terry is somewhere with a huge smile on his face from the play of his beloved Hoosiers this year. Coach Hoeppner made life fun, and he is terribly missed by a lot of people.
David Halberstam- We lost David to a car wreck here in the Bay area and that news story crossing our computer screens is still a shot to the gut. Always open, always willing to talk and to and learn from anyone, David is irreplaceable and his absence from the grand stage that is America has been palpable. Here’s to you David for a life well lived!
Boris N. Yeltsin - A man of incredible courage and guts just when his country needed courage and guts. Let’s just hope that Yeltsin’s actions don’t go for naught in his country that is increasingly looking more like the Soviet Union than the Russia that Yeltsin built. Thanks Boris!
Tom Snyder – To people old enough to remember Tom, they remember a great interviewer who also had a wicked sense of humor. Tom lived the last years of his life in the Bay area, and if you happened to run into him at a store he would be mad if you didn’t say hello. Here’s to you Tom!
Bill Walsh – An incredible football coach, and an even better man. Bill Walsh had time for everyone, and that included any average Joe that ran into Coach Walsh in public that might have a question or two about his offense or what was wrong with the 49ers. To say Bill Walsh was unique is to not do justice to what he accomplished and how he lived his life on this Earth. If we know Bill Walsh he is having great fun talking over football with the dozens of great coaches that he studied in his career, and from our point of view you can put him right at the top of any list when you are talking about the all time greatest.
Merv Griffin - Merv is another guy that only people of a certain age will know about, but when Merv was on top of his game he was the tops. When we think of Merv, images of lots of laughs and great guests on the daytime Merv Griffin show fill our minds, and truly Merv was a man that loved life completely. What a great American life you lived Mr. Griffin.
Norman Mailer - Lots of people believe The Naked and the Dead, Armies of the Night, or the Executioner’s Song were his best work, but for our money Mailer’s Advertisements for Myself, Tough Guys Don’t Dance, and Harlot’s Ghost were works of art that will live forever. Norman also participated in one of the most bizarre moments in TV history when he appeared on the Dick Cavett show in 1971 with Gore Vidal. Mr. Cavett recently described the scene in his blog on the New York Times, and it is as funny to read about as it is strange! To be in the same room with Norman Mailer, especially in his younger days was to be with a wild animal who could do or say anything, because this was a man that lived a large and outrageous life. Norman certainly had the Steve Spurrier disease, in that there was not filter between his brain and mouth, and we were all richer for his brutal honesty. If you want to understand American life from World War II to the end of the 20th century, then Mailer’s books are a must read. Here’s to you Norman for a great life lived!
There are so many other greats that we have missed, and millions of other terrific people that have passed on from this Earth in 2007. In so many ways death gives meaning to life, because we all know that we have a finite time on this planet, and if that doesn’t focus your attention nothing will!
We here at Coaches Hot Seat want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and Good Luck to you and yours in 2008!