The Week That Was: Remembering Ed

      The sad news of the passing of former Mets third baseman and East Elmhurst resident Ed Charles last Thursday set off a wave of tributes especially from Mets fans and sportswriters who were old enough to remember how Charles was an integral members of the 1969 Miracle Mets team that incredibly became World Series champions against all odds and logic.

      Yes, just being a member of that 1969 Mets would be enough to spur kind posthumous words about the player who was bestowed the nickname “The Glider” by teammate and star lefty pitcher Jerry Koosman. That would be a gross oversimplification however for accounting for Ed’s popularity.

      What always stood out for me about Ed Charles was how happy he was to talk with fans. He probably heard people tell him millions of times about their memories of 1969 and he always reacted as if it were the first time that he had heard it. Now that wasn’t because Ed was such a good actor but rather because he was an extremely nice person who was genuinely touched that he was able to provide so much happiness for others.

     Another reason that was Ed Charles was beloved is that he had to work a number of 9 to 5 jobs to make ends meet after his baseball career was over. Major League Baseball players had no free agency rights at the time and were paid a pittance compared with today’s players. In a classless move, the Mets at the time did not offer him a job in the organization. The Mets’ current owner, Fred Wilpon, corrected that slight by having Charles serve as a goodwill ambassador for the team.

     The first gig Charles landed after he retired was working in the promotions department of Buddah Records. The president of the label, the late Neil Bogart, was a huge Mets fan and he had the team record an album of songs in Mitch Miller style called “The Amazing Mets” hours after they clinched the National League East title on September 24, 1969. After they won the World Series the Mets appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” where they lip-synched “You Gotta Have Heart,” ironically the showstopping tune from the Broadway show “Damn Yankees,” which they recorded for that album.

     One of the artists that Ed worked with was a young singing group from Chicago called the Five Stairsteps who had a big hit in the spring of 1970 with the silky smooth soul ballad, “O-o-h Child.” Charles told me years ago that one of his prized possessions was the framed gold record that Bogart presented to him for his work in getting the song played on radio across the nation. 

     Ed would have loved being part of next year’s 50th anniversary of the Miracle Mets celebrations. They won’t be as joyous without his megawatt smile.

     I was saddened to also learn of the passing of New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson at the age of 90.

      I had the opportunity to speak with Benson at the NFL Draft one year and I asked him about his thoughts on the city’s longtime daily newspaper, the New Orleans Times-Picayune putting out print editions only three days a week. “I was so disgusted by it that I contacted the Gannett Corporation about selling the paper to me. They refused to even negotiate,” he said with disgust.          Rookie Knicks center Luke Kornet scored 18 points two weeks ago in his NBA debut against the Toronto Raptors. The 7’1″ center from Vanderbilt graduated with a degree in computer science. I told him of my struggles with one of the earliest computer languages, FORTRAN, back when I was an undergraduate. “I studied FORTRAN and it’s not easy!” he said trying to make me feel better. He admitted that he is concerned about not being able to keep up with the nuts and bolts of the ever-changing technology world because he has to concentrate now on his pro basketball career.

     The Yankees made a very wise decision in signing former Mets second baseman Neil Walker last week. Neil was one of many free agents who found the marketplace for his services to be very icy. Walker has endured some serious injuries over the last couple of years but he appears to have recovered from them. He can hit for both average and power and is a leader in the clubhouse which admittedly is an attribute in higher demand in Queens than it is in the Bronx.

    The sixteenth-seed University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s (UMBC) rout of the top-ranked University of Virginia in the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament marked the first time that every happened although there had been many close calls over the years.

    Yes, nearly every fan’s bracket was busted after that game but there is little doubt that this, one of the greatest upsets in sports history, will only serve to increase interest in this year’s tournament and next year’s opening rounds where a high seed is playing a team that got into the tournament by the skin of its teeth. My guess is that CBS, Turner Sports, and NCAA executives were toasting UMBC with champagne last Friday night.

     Vic Black was a pretty good relief pitcher for the Mets in 2014 but arm issues have caused him to miss most of the last three seasons. Black will try to resurrect his career this season pitching for the nearby New Jersey Jackals of the CanAm League who play their home games at Yogi Berra Stadium in Montclair.

    Listen up, WWE fans! Wrestlemania 35 will take place at MetLife Stadium in April 2019. Expect John Cena and former UFC mixed martial arts legend, Ronda Rousey (who recently joined the WWE), to have prominent roles.

    Vision Expo East, the annual trade show that deals with all things relating to eyesight, took place at the Javits Center last weekend. Athletic performance eyewear has becoming a growing part of the optical industry. Oakley, which has the most endorsement deals with professional athletes, displayed its new Prizm lenses that have the ability to not only block sun glare but to make blue skies appear even bluer so that outfielders can have an easier time picking up fly balls during day games.. Nike Eyewear, a division of Long Island’s Marchon Corporation, has similar technology in their Outrider and Maverick lines of shades that help baseball players pick up a ball in the air and for golfers who need to see the contours of a course clearly.

    Macular degeneration has always been a serious ocular concern but it’s gaining more attention as life expectancy increases. There is no cure for it but two Florida-based health supplement companies, MedOp ( and Lipotriad (, have vitamin brands, MaxiVision AREDS 2 and Lipotriad Visionary, respectively, that purport to replace your daily multivitamin with one that has lutein and other nutrients/antioxidants that build up macular pigmentation to give you better odds in the fight against macular degeneration. 

    Flea markets are a great place to buy sports apparel and collectibles at discount prices. A new one, the Empire State Market, will open at NYCB Live! (better known as the Nassau Coliseum) on Sunday, April 8, and will be operational every Sunday from 8 AM-4 PM. Parking is free.

    Post-It introduced its Extreme Notes at the recent International Restaurant & Foodservice Show. They are the same 3″x3″-sized Post-Its that we know and love but they are comprised of sturdier waterproof paper. They can be used to list prominently mark expiration dates of foods and beverages as well as listing ingredients and portion size for recipes.

     Taste New York, the Empire State food and beverage trade association, always has a strong presence at this show and this year was no exception.

      Long Island-based Peanut Butter & Co., which is giving Skippy and Jif a good run for market share wit their flavored peanut butters, including my favorite, the dessert-like cinnamon swirl peanut butter, was also showcasing its Bestie line of almond and cashew butters, which are both low in saturated fats and high in proteins.

     The Catskill Mountains are enjoying a revival. Genting, which operates New York City’s only casino, Resorts World at Aqueduct, has just opened a casino on the site of the old Concord Hotel in Monticello. A few miles away, Catskill Provisions, is giving Kentucky and Tennessee distilleries a run for their money with its Rye Whiskey that is infused with honey. Catskill Provisions also makes a number of non-alcoholic honey products.

     Tourism Ireland, that country’s tourist board, understandably uses St. Patrick’s Day to promote Ireland as a getaway destination. This year they brought in a trio of Irish celebrity chefs, Darina Allen, Noel McMeel, and Rory O’Connell, to meet with New York media as a way of giving attention to Ireland as a culinary destination.

      It may still be chilly outside but one sure sign of spring is our borough’s premier Queens foodie event, “A Taste of Queens” that will take place Tuesday, May 1, at the Hall of Science.

     Cable’s FX, has a knack for coming up with well-produced miniseries such as the recently concluded “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” This Sunday, March 25, it will be debuting its latest drama, “Trust,” which looks at the late billionaire J. Paul Getty and his dysfunctional family.

     Donald Sutherland plays Getty and his portrayal of  him is radically different than the one taken by Christopher Plummer in the recent movie, “All The Money In The World.” Whereas Plummer’s Getty is an aloof patrician, Sutherland, as is his wont, makes Getty an idiosyncratic and somewhat kinky old guy who loves to humiliate family members and friends who he suspects of wanting to get their hands on his money after he passes away if not sooner.

    There was a time when television network executives would rather have programmed a test pattern than waste a new show against “American Idol.” Apparently ABC’s revival of “Idol,” two years after Fox mercifully pulled the plug on it isn’t scaring off rivals. This past Sunday CBS introduced a new 8 PM drama that goes squarely up against it, “Instinct,” that stars Alan Cumming as a former CIA operative and currently a psychology professor who is called back into the game of going after bad guys when a female NYPD detective played by Bojana Nokavic requests his help to catch a serial killer.

     “Instinct” is the first TV procedural where the lead character is gay. It’s filmed here in NYC as opposed to a film studio backlot in Los Angeles. 

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