To Live in Their Times

Friday, March 3, 2017


In his eloquent eulogy at Muhammad Ali’s funeral last year, Billy Crystal said: “To live in his time, watching his fights, experiencing the genius of his talent, was absolutely extraordinary.” Anyone who has seen Billy Crystal’s one-man show, “700 Sundays,” knows of his gift of combining history, humor and pathos. Crystal’s father was a pioneer in promoting the great jazz artists of the 1940s and 1950s, and the young Billy saw the movie “Shane” in a theater while sitting on Billie Holiday’s lap. Armed with that history, Billy Crystal was uniquely appreciative of Ali’s impact as it unfolded.

One of the reasons to study history is to be able to recognize historical markers when they happen right before your eyes. For sports historians, the last 12 months, and particularly the last five months, have offered up timeless performances. Many years from now people will be asking, “What was it like to see that?”

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