Life after baseball

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

Ralph Terry's might just be the most exclusive club in sports.

And the coolest.

To get in, you must have played with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in your first career and against Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in your second.

Your resume has to include a World Series MVP as well as a top-15 finish in a major golf championship.

You must have been an 11th hour goat, like Bill Buckner and Scott Norwood, and an 11th hour hero, like Joe Montana and Paul Henderson.

And you have to be able to shoot your age.

It's a small club, to be sure, but the president is teeing it up in the Grant Fuhr Celebrity Classic at Blackhawk, and he's definitely worth a chat.

"I love it up here, it's beautiful," said Terry, a former New York Yankees pitcher and Senior PGA golfer who can still post 70 on the Celebrity Players Tour. "These events are a lot of fun; I enjoy the travel and it satisfies a little bit of your competitive needs."

Satisfying those competitive needs has been his life's work. The only man to ever throw the final pitch in two World Series Game 7s has just about seen and done it all in his seven decades and two sports.

He became the Steve Smith of his generation in 1960, serving up the famous Bill Mazeroski walk-off home run in Game 7 of the World Series. It made for a tough winter - for a while there he thought choker was his middle name. But Terry never let it eat away at him or erode his confidence. He just promised himself that if he ever got another chance, things would be different.

BACK ON THE MOUND

Another chance came in 1962. In a back-and-forth series with the San Francisco Giants, Terry, who won Game 5, was back on the mound for Game 7. At Candlestick Park. Against a Giants lineup that boasted Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.

The media, believe it or not, threw 1960 in his face like it was a shaving cream pie.

"Most people picked the Giants because I lost the seventh game in 1960. They said I'd choke. But I slept good the night before. I was just thankful to get a second chance. What else could you ask for?"

Terry earned his redemption, pitching a complete game shutout, 1-0, and winning series MVP.

"That was the best game I've ever pitched," he said. "After that, any time a pitcher gave up a home run in the ninth inning of a big game, like Mitch Williams to Joe Carter or Donnie Moore to Dave Henderson in Boston (Moore would later commit suicide), people would ask me how do you recover. What would you say to them to help them deal with the trauma.

"With the salaries they're making today, I'd just tell them to go back to their ranch and dump that four or five million you're making in the middle of the floor. That should help you get over it."

The game certainly is different now than it was in the 60s. Today, drugs and money make as many headlines as the players do.

STEROIDS TURN HIS STOMACH

Terry doesn't begrudge them the money - "I see them out there fighting and scrapping, so that tells me the game still means something to them" - but steroids turn his stomach.

He saw every one of Maris's 61 homers in 1961 and is sickened that his teammate's hallowed record was demolished under clouds of suspicion.

"I think they (steroid users) stole from the game. I feel bad for the guys who finished second or third in the home-run chases, playing it straight and legit. The money and awards they were cheated out of. I think it's very unfair to them.

"The steroid users are cheating their fellow competitors and I have no use for that as a sportsman and a competitor. And it's unhealthy, you have to remember there is life after baseball.

"The roar of the crowd is addictive, though, and players will sell their soul for another good performance."

All Terry did was move from the diamond to the links. After taking up golf during spring training to rehabilitate an injured hip, he got hooked.

At the end of his career, when Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver bumped him out of a job with the Mets, he invested in a course and played until he was good enough to earn his senior PGA card. There, he posted a handful of top-10 finishes.

"It went by so fast, playing with Palmer, Gary Player and Nicklaus," he said. "Now it's the Celebrity Tour, which has also been a lot of fun. Like I said, there is life after baseball."


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