Saturday, September 24, 2016

Happy Trails, Bill!

I am not Jewish, but I love language. I love words. I've had a lifelong love affair with words. And the words that come to us from Yiddish have always held a strong appeal for me. As a zaftig woman known to shvitz on occasion, I can identify with the glory of that language. My mother's German roots came into play when she would kibitz during card games and remove shmutz from our dirty faces as she offered us a nosh. Tuches, shtik, shnoz, shmooz, bupkes, chutzpah, shlep ... those were all words we grew up with. We had no patience for schmucks and putzes and nebbishes. And we were as likely to proclaim 'Oy Vey!' as we were to acknowledge our Norwegian heritage by saying 'Uff Da!' I've even been known to kvetch on occasion, or so I've been told. What else can you expect from this shiksa?

But there was one Yiddish word that was always held back and only bestowed as the highest compliment. It was never used ironically or in jest. You only used this word when you really meant it. And that word is mensch.

Wikipedia tells us this about the word mensch ...
A "mensch" is "someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being 'a real mensch' is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous." The term is used as a high compliment, implying the rarity and value of that individual's qualities.
We, as Astros fans, have had a true mensch in our midst for the past 30 years. In addition to the above definition, I would add fair, professional, engaging, approachable, honest, intelligent, unassuming, generous and humble. And that's just off the top of my head.

Bill Brown is a mensch as well as a scholar and lover of baseball. He loves to talk baseball and he never stopped learning and growing in his role as a broadcaster. He has no ego and has been as willing to learn from me with what I have to offer with my minor league takes as he has with the many professional sources available to him. It has been my privilege and honor to get to know Brownie a little bit over the years. He is, indeed, a mensch.

As I write this, I am listening to Bill call the Astros game with the same excitement and passion as always. Thank you for your support, your kind words and your steady presence over the years, Bill. Enjoy a well-earned retirement!

The author wearing Bill's
2005 NLC ring

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