Posnanski: Luke Easter, invisible man

From SABR member Joe Posnanski at NBC Sports on July 16, 2015:

There’s a Luke Easter story that goes like this: A smitten young man walked up to Easter one day, late in the big man’s career, and nervously asked for an autograph. In Easter’s too-short life, he never turned down an autograph request or just about any other request for that matter. He smiled his big smile, chomped on a big cigar, and scribbled is signature while the boy looked up at him in awe.

“Mr. Easter,” the boy said nervously. “I saw your longest home run.”

Easter looked down at the boy with interest. He had mischief in his eyes when he asked: “Did you see it land?”

“Yes sir. I saw it land way over the fence and … “

And with this Easter smiled again and turned back to his autograph. “Bub,” he said softly. “If you saw it land, you didn’t see my longest home run.”

* * *

Luke Easter would have turned 100 years old this August. Then again, he might have turned 101 or 94 or or 104 or some other age because Luke Easter was nothing if not adaptable. His friend Satchel Paige often said that age is mind over matter — if you don’t mind, it don’t matter. Easter lived the formula. He was whatever age he needed to be in the moment.

For instance, he was 26 in 1949 when Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck bought his contract from the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues. True, Easter could not really have been 26 because he had been playing professional baseball for a dozen or more years; heck It had been almost a decade since he and his pal Sam Jethroe (who was destined to become the first black Major Leaguer in Boston) wrecked a Buick driving from game to game as part of a St. Louis semi-pro team. The Easter birth certificate — along with the family bible — stubbornly claimed his birthdate to be August 3, 1915, which made him 33 years old when Veeck finally called. But, as mentioned, Luke Easter was nothing if not adaptable.

Read the full article here: http://sportsworld.nbcsports.com/invisible-man/

Originally published: July 20, 2015. Last Updated: July 20, 2015.