Yet, Graff is like a lot of us. He doesn't need a calendar to prompt him.
"Every day I get up and try to be like he was," Graff said. "He was my earthly hero and quite a guy ... quite a guy."
His oldest son became a baseball guy, eating up his father's every word on the subject. And what a baseball story it was.
As a teen,
Graff also continued to impress as a catcher and in 1938, while a sophomore at IWU, was nominated by Young to try out for an All-American team that would travel to
Not only was Graff selected, he was elected captain.
Thus began a journey that took a 20-year-old from
It did little to detract from the experience for Graff, who at Young's request wired articles to him throughout the trip.
"When my dad was getting ready to board the ocean liner (in New York),
The only downside was a knee injury suffered by Graff toward the end of the trip. It dogged him the rest of his IWU career and during a two-year stint in the
It also may have saved his life.
When World War II broke out, Graff joined the
Graff was discharged for fear the bum knee would fail him in battle. Most in his battalion later were killed in action, some in the Normandy invasion.
"God was looking after him," Hal said.
The knee never healed. He came to call it his "trick knee" because it could go out at any time, once while simply turning over in bed.
It didn't stop him from building a life in
Drafted by the Washington Senators in 1968, he did not sign because of a foot injury. He signed a year later with the
Like his father, dreams of a big-league career were dashed by injury.
"I realized, 'Oh my goodness, I'm going to have to work,'"
He was in the insurance business for 25-plus years, then after age 45 got his master's degree and doctorate. He has taught online and in college classrooms ever since, now splitting time between Bloomington and his beloved Gibson City.
"Once a Greyhound, always a Greyhound," he said.
Still, he lives on in the fictional Harold Gatewood Mysteries Series.
"My dad is one of the very few people I've known in my life who thoroughly enjoyed everything about his life,"
The world could use more like him.
"The ones who are, we sure remember,"
And not just on
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