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T.J. Simers

Quite a late-inning comeback for Ross Porter

A little more than three months after his heart stops, the former Dodgers broadcaster is greeting golfers at his son's charity event.

November 06, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • The Dodger broadcast team Ross Porter, Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett in 1978.
The Dodger broadcast team Ross Porter, Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett in 1978. (Handout )

Ross Porter died.

"He fell into my arms," says Lin, his wife of 51 years, "and said, 'I am leaving.'"

Anyone who knows Lin won't be surprised with what happens next. She orders her husband not to leave. Doctors and nurses call a code blue at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center and Dr. Ramin Salehi-Rad sprints from the hospital basement to Porter's upstairs room.

It's late July, a little more than three months ago, and Ross is not with us. He does not have a pulse for 48 seconds before a UCLA medical team goes to work on that great big heart.

In time, Ross opts for extra innings. And now it's a glorious Monday in November with the former Dodgers broadcaster greeting golfers who are donating time and money to his son's mission of helping families in crises.

Grandpops Scully is here. So are Eric Karros, Shawn Green, James Worthy, Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke and so many others because of their affection for Ross.

But before Ross takes the microphone to unleash that familiar voice, first a hug for his son, Ross Jr., founder of Stillpoint Family Resources.

"I grew up in a home where it was understood, to whom much is given, much is expected," Ross Jr. tells everyone later, Mom and Dad obviously doing good.

Then the big, booming voice takes over, only Ross noticing as he introduces Eddie Money and Eddie Murray, "folks, that's two Eddies in a row."

And there are tears in Lin's eyes.

"I'm now flooded with thanksgiving thoughts every day," she says. "We have extended life."

Tell me that doesn't make you feel good, the day a little brighter because of it, and that's why I'm here.

I see Ross and I smile. Some people just do that to you.

And right now I could use a little pick-me-up. With so much ugliness in sports these days, I find myself agreeing with Kobe Bryant and wondering what is it with some of the idiots out there.

I come close as well to agreeing with UCLA Coach Jim Mora, who calls a phony Twitter poster "a coward." I stop short when Mora goes too far, and he often does, guessing the guy's a coward, "or a girl."

I have a lot of women in my family, none of them cowards, or the kind to not stand behind what they have to say.

But that's where we are today, ugliness everywhere in sports, and whether it's social media or allowing folks to vent anonymously, it's no longer fun and games.

Who sends email, as I get from the same guy or woman every week, saying, "I hope you know your mother is being gang-raped in hell right now" because they didn't like the way I once wrote about USC?

What kind of human being writes, "You're lower than pig vomit," because there's a column about an injured Marine on Page 2 Sunday rather than a tribute to UCLA for scoring 66 points?

It's reassuring to hear from more than 30 others wanting the address of Marine Octavio Sanchez so they might send along a gift for his contributions to our country.

But several others posted similar "pig vomit" sentiments below the online Page 2 column, contending the Marine was used so credit would not have to be given to UCLA.

The world is one crazy place.

So here I am Monday morning with Ross & Friends at Calabasas Country Club, lucky to be at such an oasis and surrounded by good people.

It's good to be reminded that everyone is not a crackpot, although I am now teamed with Dave Hammers, Bob Hill and Jerry Mook.

They've done more in their lives than most athletes would ever hope to accomplish, but I'm telling them they are nobodies. After all, I'm the celebrity in the group, and for some reason I have to keep reminding them.

The three are in their 70s, friends since their days at Loyola before it became Loyola Marymount, all successful, all married to their first wives and not one of them much of a golfer.

Hammers designs the automatic detection system — you know, the spinning radar square on aircraft carriers — which makes it a little uncomfortable when he asks, what have you done with your life?

"Dave teaches an electromagnetic radar class at LMU now," says Mook. "I go to LMU basketball games."

Mook is a hoot because you have to be if your name is Mook. He put together a wholesale library book company. He's also a diehard Republican who can't figure out why his ball is always going right.

Hill is a two-time mayor of Calabasas and a stockbroker who was in Cantor Fitzgerald's L.A. office the morning of the World Trade Center attack, 658 of his colleagues dying.

"One woman called that morning all excited about a trade," he recalls. "I never heard from her again."

Hill is married to Kathleen. But of course he is, knowing he would be after his first date.

"I hit the lottery," he says.

Kathleen can no longer speak because of something I can't pronounce, but a computer for communication works just fine.

"Life is good," says Hill, and apparently he's not a Trojans fan.

They all talk sports, but sports does not govern their rich lives, which is really too bad if you want to win a tournament and you're stuck with three stiffs who really should have taken golf lessons.

But standing here late in the day, the shadows creeping in, the trees turning colors, no one looking at their cellphone, stomach hurting from so many laughs, Hill lining up another putt he'd miss — it was just perfect.

Sometimes, I guess, you just have to be reminded what really matters.

I said as much to everyone, hoping Hill gets the message and maybe makes the putt next year.

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