Sports has a way of con­nect­ing to life

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS - OWEN CANFIELD

Funny, isn’t it, how sports make their way into just about ev­ery­thing we read and write. It just hap­pens. How does one con­nect some of the great­est mu­sic ever writ­ten with sports? Again, it just hap­pens.

I know noth­ing about clas­si­cal mu­sic or past and present great com­posers, but lis­ten­ing to said mu­sic can be very re­lax­ing and en­joy­able. On a whim some years ago, I bought a series of clas­si­cal CDs, which I promptly stored and mostly ig­nored. I re­dis­cov­ered them the night be­fore the elec­tion.

To sooth my jan­gled nerves as the day of de­ci­sion ap­proached, I popped in a CD en­ti­tled “Sounds of Fin­land” by Jean Si­belius.

Si­belius, who lived from 1865 to 1957, was, from what I read, pretty much the Babe Ruth of Fin­nish com­posers. His most fa­mous and most im­pact­ful work, I’ll bet you al­ready know, is “Fin­lan­dia.” All the discs came with a brief printed bi­og­ra­phy of the com­poser, and facts rel­a­tive to his life and times. As in any­one’s life­span, in­ter­est­ing and some­times

earth-shak­ing things hap­pen dur­ing its course.

One of the more in­trigu­ing in­ci­dents that oc­curred dur­ing Si­belius’ long life was the Helsinki Olympic Games of 1952. (See? Sports) Run­ning fans have heard the name Emil Zatopec. Zatopec, a Czech ath­lete, won the gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races and, as­ton­ish­ingly, though he had never at­tempted a marathon be­fore, en­tered and won that one, too. For years he was the only man ever to win all three in the same Olympic Games.

How­ever, in Con­necti­cut that year, and through­out the USA, it wasn’t Zatopec who got most of the at­ten­tion

from the Helsinki games. It was one Lindy Remigino, the Hart­ford kid who won two golds, in the 100 meter race and the 4 X 100 re­lay. Lindy, who died in July, be­came a coach­ing fix­ture for decades in dis­tance run­ning and track both in Con­necti­cut (Hart­ford) and na­tion­ally.

As for Si­belius, he didn’t run, but he surely com­posed. He was Fin­land’s most prom­i­nent com­poser. Fin­lan­dia, which was re­garded as a ring­ing na­tion­al­is­tic an­them, marked him as a pa­triot for Fin­land in its strug­gle to dis­tance it­self from Tsarist Rus­sia.

Si­belius was one of the longest-liv­ing (1865-1957) of the great com­posers, but he ended his com­pos­ing ca­reer at age 60, de­cid­ing he had given all he had. At one point in his life, ac­cord­ing

to his bi­og­ra­phy, he was forced to stop drink­ing and smok­ing be­cause of de­clin­ing health, but ap­par­ently he went right back to those bad habits when his ro­bust health re­turned. That couldn’t have been good for him, but, since he lived to be 92, he ap­par­ently had it all fig­ured out.

This is be­ing writ­ten on Wed­nes­day morn­ing and sports are back in vogue. The elec­tion, for bet­ter or worse, is over. A num­ber of for­mer sports stars, hav­ing moved into pol­i­tics, won their races and I sup­pose some lost. Three of the most prom­i­nent win­ners were ex-pro foot­ball play­ers An­thony Gon­za­lez (In­di­anapo­lis Colts) and Colin Allred (Ten­nessee Ti­tans) and base­ball’s Frank White (Kansas City Roy­als).

Gon­za­lez and Allred won seats in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, from their home states, Tony G. from Ohio and Allred from Texas. Allred’s vic­tory was a stun­ner be­cause he un­seated 11-term con­gress­man Pete Ses­sions.

White is re­mem­bered as a five time all-star dur­ing his 18-year ca­reer as Roy­als sec­ond base­man. He won Tues­day’s Jack­son County, Mo. race for County Ex­ec­u­tive.

All very in­ter­est­ing, but my dis­cov­ery of the great com­posers, their mu­sic and their lives has made me know that I’ll be drawn to in­ves­ti­gate oth­ers — not just Mozart and Beethoven but Bach, Schu­mann, Chopin, Liszt and, well, the list is long. Mean­while, sports re­mains my pas­sion.

/ AP

Lindy Remigino (981) won the 100-meter fi­nal in the Olympic games at Helsinki, Fin­land, on July 21, 1952, in the clos­est fin­ish of the event in years.

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