AUTHOR : ELDRIDGE MILES
Affectionately, known as "Big E," Eldridge Miles has spent more than 50 years as a PGA professional in Dallas. He's been the head professional at Dallas County Club, Bent Tree Country Club and Gleneagles Country Club. In 1978, he was the first recipient of the PGA of America/Sports Illustrated Merchandiser of the Year.
A personal friend and playing partner of Ben Hogan for 20 years, Big E has given golf lessons to the likes of Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Don Meredith, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Dan Reeves and Yogi Berra.
With the Texas Rangers' impressive run through the playoffs and into the World Series, I have been reminded of some great memories and stories of the Hall of Fame baseball players I've known throughout the years.
Preston Trail Golf Club opened in 1963, and I had the honor to become good friends with Yankees great Mickey Mantle, as we were both members of the club. Mickey loved to fish, and fishing was my hobby away from golf. I had invitations to fish the private lakes of many of the Preston Trail members. So I took Mickey with me as often as possible. We always had a great time and fished in rain, snow and sleet.
Mickey represented Wild Turkey bourbon back then. He always brought a bottle along for the fishing trip. That always kept things interesting. We told each other many stories while fishing. Some of the funniest Mickey told me were about Yogi Berra, his Yankees teammate who went on to become the manager in later years.
One of my favorite Yogi Berra stories from Mickey was about ordering pizza. As Mickey told it, the Yankees once played a night game that didn't end until almost 2 a.m. Mickey, Whitey Ford and Yogi were all good friends, and they were very hungry after the game. They decided to go to the pizza parlor across from Yankee Stadium.
Mickey ordered a large pizza for himself, as did Whitey and Yogi. The cook asked Mickey if he wanted his pizza cut into eight slices or 16. Mickey asked for 16 slices, as did Whitey Ford.
But Yogi asked for his in eight slices. He said there was no way he could 16 pieces of pizza!
Years later, I was invited to the Mickey Mantle Foundation golf tournament. I had the pleasure of meeting Yogi that day, as well as many other Hall of Fame players. Yogi always had a crowd around him, as he was extremely funny. The thing about Yogi was that he was funny, but it wasn't really on purpose.
He was just funny by accident. For example, when he gave someone directions to get to his house, he'd say "When you come to the fork in the road, take it."
I asked him about that, and he said he wasn't trying to be funny about it because both roads circle back to his house.
Finally, I had the courage to ask him about the pizza story. He said it was true, but he just preferred the larger slices. He wasn't trying to be funny. Yogi couldn't help it, though. He is just a funny guy.
This November, I will attend the Harmon Killebrew Celebrity Golf Tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz. Sadly, Killebrew, the Hall of Fame slugger, died in May from esophageal cancer. I am sure that many Hall of Fame baseball players will be in attendance at the tournament. I hope Yogi will be there so he can give us some more great stories. I'm looking forward to seeing Yogi and the many other baseball Hall of Famers.