YAM Notes: November/December 2011

By Rich Banbury

Included among the various awards and recognitions bestowed on Yale alumni are the George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Awards, in honor of President Bush I, who was captain of the 1948 baseball team, well after his storied service as a decorated Navy pilot.  At that time, in his senior year, the future 41st President was living in New Haven with his wife Barbara and a toddler who later became the 43rd President.  The Bush Lifetime of Leadership Awards are presented at the biennial Blue Leadership Ball, which will take place this year at the William Lanman Center in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium.  The Awards ceremony will be on November 18th, the evening before the Yale-Harvard football game.  The honored alumni this year include Donald Dell, who has a distinguished and unmatched career as a tennis player, sports agent, lawyer and leader.  Don was instrumental in establishing the Association of Tennis Professionals in 1972 and was also the founder of Professional Services, known as ProServ, one of the nation’s first and most successful sports marketing firms.  As a college player, Don was a three-year All American and reached the NCAA final singles match in 1959.  A member of the United States Davis Cup Team in the early 1960s, Don was later captain of the winning Davis Cup teams in 1968 and 1969.  He was inducted into the College Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993 and the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.  Many classmates will recall Don as a regular television commentator for several years, covering Wimbledon with Bud Collins and Barry McKay.  His leadership extends well beyond the world of tennis.  After earning a law degree at the University of Virginia in 1964, Don practiced law for several years and also worked as a special assistant to Sargent Shriver at the Peace Corps.  Of the six alumni being honored this year, two others were at Yale when we were:  Jack Embersits ’58 and Ben Balme ’61.  Many of us remember Jack from his role as captain of the 1957 football team and his later work in the Yale Administration.  A resident of Madison, Connecticut, Jack passed away within the last year.  Ben was a first-team AP All-American guard who played with the Philadelphia Eagles before attending Yale Medical School.  His career as an outstanding orthopedic surgeon includes his front-line work with wounded warriors in Vietnam.

Three Books:  On November 17, 1934, Yale defeated Princeton 7-0 on a remarkable catch and run by sophomore Larry Kelley, a future Heisman Trophy winner.  It was the last time that a college football team played the entire game without substitution.  The story of those eleven men and their later lives is well told in William Wallace’s Yale’s Ironmen.  Kelley’s roommate and teammate was Jack Wright, who played right tackle on that historic day.  Wright’s nephew, Matt Freeman, was a three-year varsity player, whose dedication to Yale football was recognized when he was presented with the Oliver Trophy after his senior season.  A new book authored by Mike Freeman, Matt’s son, would make a nice holiday gift.  Drifting is the story of Mike’s two-week solo canoe trip down the Hudson River, weaving historical themes with his observations concerning contemporary social and moral issues.  Recently released, Drifting has evoked several complimentary endorsements:  “Freeman’s narrative makes us think in hard ways about America as the country itself drifts toward an uncertain future”.  “Drift down the river with Mike Freeman and witness the unfolding of a love story – a love of history, a love of nature, and a love of family”.  Mike’s observations and reflections are undoubtedly influenced by having lived for ten years in a remote Alaskan village.

If one is in the mood to acquire class progeny projects for personal pleasure or holiday gifting, consider Like a Hole in the Head (Little Brown, 1998), a comic biblio-mystery by Jen Banbury ‘89, which became the fourth best selling work of fiction during the week following  the author’s appearance on the Today show.  The mystery, spiced by salty language and crude characters, involves an extremely valuable inscribed Jack London first edition.

The newly-formed Yale Veterans Association is seeking contact information from all classes for those who served in the military but are not  ROTC program graduates.  If you fall into that category, send contact information to Charlie Weymouth or Wilse Keithline, both of whom are members of the organization committee.

Most of us are 72 or 73.  That’s equivalent to a C-.  We can do better than that.  Perhaps a lot better.