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WILLIE AND J.T. “ICONS”

By Columnist Bob Bridge


Bucket lists include items you intend to check off before you expire. Really, it is as simple as that.


Time is often frittered away. Life is short. Hence, one must make every moment count.


The basic bucket list strategy is dream it, wish it, do it. I am not greedy. In fact, my final wishes fit neatly within a thimble.

James Taylor
James Taylor

Two legendary icons, Willie Mays and James Taylor, have been incredibly impressionable role models for me. Many consider them the ultimate entertainers in their chosen professions.


Last week, J.T. played his resplendent repertoire to an adoring audience in the venue I continue to refer to as Deer Creek. Thanks to an exceptionally generous gentleman, I was afforded four VIP tickets to the aforementioned event.


My significant other and I have attended several J.T. concerts since the 1970s. However, now that J.T. is 76 and “experts” recently suggested my departure from the planet has been expedited, this show was upgraded to an item on my bucket list.


How good was my favorite songwriter and fabled folk troubadour? He was amazing, the most mellow “Sweet Baby James.”


His encore was truly poignant, my favorite tune. Not only was my bucket filled, it runneth over.


Willie Mays
Willie Mays

One week later, Willie waved farewell after a long life well-lived. I could recite the sensational statistics he amassed during his Hall-of-Fame career, but they wouldn’t reveal the personality, kindness, flair for the fantastic and sheer enthusiasm for the game he exuded on and off the diamond.


He was the Say-Hey Kid, the splendid slugger, brilliant baserunner and speedy outfielder racing from beneath his cap before executing his extraordinary signature basket catch to a chorus of cheers.


I was blessed to share a few minutes with Willie prior to a game with the Reds at Crosley Field in 1968. I was overwhelmed by his genuine humility and kindness.


He was everything - and more - than I expected of a superhero. He multiplied my already fervent passion for baseball.


Though I am hardly a role model, I strenuously suggest collecting moments, not things. My “Mays Moment” inspired me to become a sports journalist.


Another conversation with Willie was absolutely on my bucket list.


Too late?


Not necessarily. If I can earn my ticket to the “High Country,” I plan to sit a spell with Willie, maybe even play a little pitch-and-catch with Mr. Mays.


Of course, that comes after keeping my promise of one last fishing trip with Bill Bridge.


It’s all about moments, memories and a detailed roadmap to paradise.




Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or bbbbbridge@gmail.com.

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Saw Willie play a few times at Crosley Field. I can remember 3b, Bob Aspermonte getting hit by a pitch in the arm and Willie was on deck.

As the trainers were walking Aspermonte back, he fainted from the pain right at Willie’s feet.

Hope your life expectancy hadn’t been shortened too much Bob.

Hang in there.

It scares the heck out of me too…

I don’t have the comfort of believing in an afterlife so it is really important to me to take my vitamins ha


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Well said/written thx you. As I mentioned previously to you on FB, I shook hands w/ Willie. Resurface it for this historical fun footnote: I remembered occasion happened by Crosley Field 1st base dugout. As my memory cheerfully goes south these days, I checked site with venerable Reds authority, KK from Aurora who verified location saying in 50s Reds occupied 3rd base dugout, not tradional 1st base side. My memory frequently is wrong these days. Thot you might enjoy my celebration that it was correct. What a moment for a 10 yr old from Bedford meeting Willie.

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