Alumnus Ed Lucas ’62 said he was the first blind student at Seton Hall with a seeing eye dog.
Lucas said he was born prematurely and always had poor sight, but wearing glasses corrected it well enough. However, after the New York Giants won the 1951 National League pennant, Lucas said he went out to play a game of baseball with his friends when that changed.
He described how he pitched the game and took off his glasses. Lucas said he threw a ball that was lined back to the mound, which hit him right between his eyes and detached both retinas. He said that was the last time he saw anything.
Lucas said he has always loved baseball and grew up as a Giants fan, but after becoming good friends with Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto he started focusing on the Yankees.
Lucas said Seton Hall was his top choice for college because of the communications program and the WSOU radio station.
He said he commuted from his home in Weehawken every day by bus to attend classes.
Lucas said his professors would ask students to take carbon copies of their notes, which would be given to him for studying.
Lucas explained that someone would come to his house five nights a week to read his notes and books to him. He said he also became friends with classmates and they would come over to study on the weekends. Lucas said there was nothing like the current Disability Support Services on campus at the time.
Lucas said he used to have his own show on WSOU called “Around the Bases with Ed Lucas.” He said he would interview Yankee players for the show, such as Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto.
He said that while at the ballpark, he would have a guide dog with him, taking up two seats in the press box. Lucas said he could hear other journalists and broadcasters whispering about him, but Rizzuto would tell him not to listen to them.
After graduating from Seton Hall, Lucas said he worked at different radio stations interviewing players about their personal lives, rather than just focusing on different plays and games.
“That’s how I got to know them so well,” Lucas said. “They were very kind talking about their personal lives.”
Lucas said he still does similar work, like covering the Yankees, and writing stories for newspapers, such as The Jersey Journal. Lucas said he also goes on to radio shows for interviews and commentary when asked.
As of March 2019, Lucas said he has been to 64 consecutive Yankee homeopeners. Lucas said he found it ironic that the first time he went to a homeopener in 1956 was also the first time an umpire wore glasses.
Lucas said he donates money every year from his foundation, The Ed Lucas Foundation, for scholarships for students at SHU with disabilities. Lucas said his biggest advice to other blind students is to never give up.
Donjeta Sahiti, a first year student in the MPA program, is a blind student who received the Ed Lucas Scholarship. Sahiti said she received it from the start of her sophomore year until she finished her undergraduate studies.
Sahiti said she had a phone call with Lucas and his wife after learning the news that she had gotten the scholarship. She said that the couple were positive and motivated people, who really cared to learn about her and her background.
Sahiti said the scholarship helped her worry less about finances and focus more on school. “I was very appreciative of receiving the scholarship because for sure it helped me throughout the years,” Sahiti said.
Veronica Gaspa can be reached at email@example.com.