James “Archie” Manning died recently. His visitation is tomorrow. Jim was a big guy, and he simply loved sports. He refereed basketball at the CYO and high school level. He attended Purcell, but migrated to the West side, where he became a huge Elder fan. I think his son went there. I heard a story once that he was officiating a close game at Elder, and late in the game, the ball bounced off the opponent’s leg and went out of bounds. According to the story, Archie blew his whistle and in his excitement yelled “Our ball!” I can’t confirm that, but I can’t possibly deny it either.
Where I got to know him best, along with literally hundreds of other lawyers, was in his role as the commissioner of the Cincinnati Lawyers Softball League. Archie ran it for as long as I can remember. He did the scheduling, and he umpired many of the games. His son Tim helped out.
One of my favorite rituals, and one I will surely miss, is every year’s first at bat when I would step in the box, and have Archie say “Greinz, how you doing?” He truly loved the lawyers league. Which was not easy. I mean, imagine a group of some of the most self-centered, argumentative, uber-competitive people you’ve ever met. Now multiply it by 10. That’s pretty much the league’s makeup. And in the middle of it all was Archie. Loving it. I can’t imagine what it will be like this summer. But it won’t be the same.
Paul Daugherty wrote a column today about Pete Rose. Pete purports to love the game. But following his MLB suspension he never once considered coaching at the high school or college level. He never volunteered his time with inner city youth baseball. He certainly never put in the kind of time that Archie did. And that is the difference I think. Pete loves Pete. Archie loved the game.