Kirst: Of baseball’s Luke Easter and dreams that have yet to touch the ground

From Sean Kirst at the Buffalo News on July 18, 2017:

To Lum Smith, it is a kind of sacred place. He made that point last week as he walked along Woodlawn Avenue in Buffalo, near the Masten Avenue intersection, even if nothing around him seemed unusual: A few old wooden houses with potted flowers on the porches, an open lot where another home once stood, the morning hum of a worker mowing a lawn at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, just across the street ….

Where, as Sinatra sang, there used to be a ballpark.

Smith, 74, a retired principal in the Buffalo city schools, could suddenly see it all again. “Here!” he exclaimed.  He windmilled his arm and took a couple of steps into the lot, looked across a backyard with an ancient metal swing set, then reached toward the blue sky.

“When he hit it,” he said, “it must have come down right around here.”

He was speaking of Luke Easter’s Flag Day home run 60 summers ago. Three times – twice in that magical summer of 1957, and once more in 1958 – the Buffalo Bisons legend put the ball over the scoreboard at the old Offermann Stadium, only a few years before the place was demolished.

Easter was the first man to do it. Those feats helped cement his lasting stature in Western New York folklore.

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Originally published: July 18, 2017. Last Updated: July 18, 2017.