Thursday, December 4, 2008

I nearly made it...

It's nice to win. To be number one. To be remembered in the history books. But what about coming in second? We always forget those people. I can name a few gold metal winners and probably one or two silver medal winners. Forget Bronze medalists. Years of training to come in second by a millisecond must really suck. How does it affect these people? we don't think about it much. It probably scars people for life.

This is a famous photo of Jack Ruby just about to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald after the JFK assassination. Dallas Times Herald photographer Robert Jackson won a Pulitzer prize for this photo, but a photo, taken six-tenths of a second before, by rival Dallas Morning News photographer Jack Beers, did not. Beer's daughter said that this six-tenths of a second bothered her father till the day he died. He sunk into a depression, feeling like he had been cheated by fate. He died of a heart attack at the age of fifty one.

Aside from incumbent presidents, it's hard to name all the men who ran for president and lost. I can probably name about ten, but I like remembering stuff like that. The most famous is Adlai Stevenson. He lost twice. Once to Rutherford B. Hayes and again to Grover Cleveland. He became semi-famous for being the runner up.

This story is even stranger. This is Adlai Stevenson III, Adlai's grandson. He ran for president twice against Eisenhower and lost both times. I guess losers run in the family for the Stevensons.

Everyone remembers Babe Ruth for hitting 714 home runs, but who had the record before him? His name was Roger Conner. Nobody remembers Roger. He actually had 138 home runs, before Ruth clobbered that record with his 714. True, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds beat the Babe (although, I am not sure Barry deserved it), but we will always remember Babe, even if he is third now. Roger Conner remains unknown.

Secretariat is a famous racehorse. Won the triple crown, almost effortlessly. Amazing animal. I remember it well. But does anyone remember Sham? The horse way in the distance who came in second. Sham was undefeated before facing Secretariat. One race probably turned this horse into hamburgers or glue. Hopefully he got some stud work in before his fate.

Now here is an unfortunate soul. This is Pete Best. He was the drummer for The Beatles before Ringo Starr. Talk about coming in second? Pete still tours with his band and talks about his days with the fab three. I think it was literally, days. I wonder if he is bitter about the whole experience. My guess is YES. I don't blame him. I can't imagine saying John, Paul, George and Pete. It doesn't really roll off the tongue. Not only that, he was beat out by Ringo. (sorry Ringo fans, all three of you)

The ultimate "nearly made it" has to be this guy. This is Mike Collins. He was the third astronaut on the Apollo 9 mission that landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong muttered the famous words, "One small step for man". Buzz Aldrin hopped around behind him. What about Mike? Mike stayed in the ship. You would think they would take turns and let Mike put his foot on the moon. Imagine going all the way up there and you are not allowed out of the ship. What a rip off. Do you think he knew before the mission or did they lie to him. I would have refused to go. I am sure he had to go through the same rigorous training, all to watch. Can you imagine him coming down the ladder and Neil yelling. NO, Mike, NO, get back in the ship. You are not allowed to set foot on the moon.

So, here is to all the almost made-its -
Just because you aren't number one is no reason to be treated like number TWO...

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