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Monday, January 7, 2013

DO IRON HORSES STILL EXIST TODAY?

If you are like me, you are excited about tonight’s BCS Title game between the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Personally, for me, it is extra special.  Notre Dame, undeniably, a team much like the Yankees, has tremendous pressure to perform.  They are an Iron Horse of tradition and strength.  Their fans are committed, passionate, and incredibly loyal, just like Yankee fans.

(In Photo: Peter Demmerle)
If you have been reading the variety of human interest stories surrounding this title game, then you may have come across this incredible tribute piece to Peter Demmerle, a Notre Dame receiver who was admirably named “Hands” because of his innate ability to “fly in the air and catch anything.”  That is until he was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that prematurely took his life at age 53.  Demmerle was a critical member of the 1973 Notre Dame championship team- ironically an undefeated team that played for the championship against Alabama on December 31, 1973 a “contest, widely considered the greatest college game ever played.”

As a player, Peter Demmerle is an Iron Horse- the never going to give up kind of competitor.  “Peter really epitomized the Notre Dame athlete,” says Terry Hanratty, a former Fighting Irish quarterback and consensus All-American. “He was the pinnacle.”

Two things came to mind as I read this tribute piece published in the Daily News (HERE),
  1. Another Alabama- Notre Dame national championship game  
  2. Lou Gehrig
Many years before Peter played in this infamous championship on New Year’s Eve, a young New Yorker named Lou Gehrig shocked the nation when he voluntarily took himself out of the game at first base, a place he played for a consecutive 2130 games.  “His hardworking nature and ability to play through incredible pain certainly earned their (the fans) respect, and earned him the nickname “’The Iron Horse,’” as stated in Gehrig’s biography (HERE).

There are so many similarities between Peter and Lou.  They were both incredibly intelligent- Lou graduated from Columbia University and Peter, Notre Dame.  They both played through pain and thought about the team first, and themselves second.  They both gave an amazing gift to us, their sport and their team- Lou, humbleness, authenticity, power, commitment, and Peter, advocacy, loyalty, precision, and skill.  A lifetime .340 batting average and 493 home runs vs. 70 career receptions for 1076 yards, their legacy is celebrated throughout the country and among their forever fans. 

There is no question that these two men emblazon the name “Iron Horse” on their souls, but my question is do Iron Horses like these two men still exist in sports today?  Who do you nominate for the post of Iron Horse?


--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Opinion Columnist
Twitter: @suzieprof




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