Over the last few days, a couple different friends have asked what my motivation is for trying to stay in shape.
It’s really pretty simple:
a) My dad died young of heart disease, so I’d like to do what I can not to die young. Of course, he was into sports and exercise too, but if I do go before I get old, well, at least I tried to hold up my end of the longevity bargain.
b) I couldn’t look in the mirror and just accept that I’d let myself go to seed and not try to do something about it; just seems disrespectful to myself and those around me.
c) I’ve always considered myself an athlete — not a great one, but an athlete nonetheless — and that means being in at least credible shape, regardless of how old I am.
That, incidentally, makes me think of something my college friend Greg Sherwood, who was in fact a great athlete, told me long ago: “I’m always in decent shape, good enough that I can always be in fantastic shape if I want to be in about three weeks.”
Greg was a football and baseball star at South Salem High and walked on for the Beaver football team the fall of our freshman year in 1981. He didn’t pursue college sports after that, but as I said he was a fantastic athlete — tough, fast and strong — who was a killer on the basketball court at OSU’s Dixon rec center even though at 5-foot-8 he was only an inch taller than your intrepid blogger.
Greg’s definitely on the short list of the best all-around athletes I’ve known in my life.
Brad Hermo, who was a year behind me at Putnam High, earned 10 letters and appeared certain to be a major leaguer (instead, that happened for 1984 Putnam grad Scott Brosius, whom I salute for having a fine big-league career, though during the one season Brosius and I were teammates, the 1982 American Legion campaign, he seemed only a fraction of the player Hermo was);
West Albany baseball coach Don Lien and assistant Shawn Stinson, former teammates of mine in the men’s senior league who pretty much played a different game than everyone else;
And my former rural neighbor and current Corvallis resident John Wilson, who even at his advanced age (a few years older than yours truly) is pretty much good at everything from tennis to golf to basketball to baseball to racquetball to … you get the idea.
Those guys are the best athletes I’ve known, and they also serve as the lead-in to this week’s list: the Top 7 athletes in American history: