Goodbye Again To A Friend I Never Met

In the interest of full disclosure, this post is almost identical to the one I wrote three years ago today.

 

Five years ago today my friend Richard Segal died. He and Larry Lucchino, President/CEO of the two baseball teams that employed me in a full-time capacity, were college classmates. Lucchino hired Segal to work for those teams. (Actually, the teams made an annual “contribution” to the National Foundation on Counseling, Richard’s endeavor.)

Besides providing counseling for employees–a resource of which I first availed myself after the end of my first engagement in 1992–one of Richard’s tasks was to interview, over the phone, five or six players that the team was considering selecting in the first round of the amateur draft. His assessments were spot-on. One year the team ignored his evaluation of a player and selected him in the first round. Richard had warned us that this player was incapable of admitting mistakes and was un-coachable. Only the most gifted of players can possibly succeed with those traits and this player was not in that category. Of course, on that basis alone he probably should not have been picked in the first round, but that’s another story.

Richard’s assessment was absolutely correct. When this player failed he refused to take responsibility and refused to accept coaching that might have led to his improving. He never advanced beyond Class A, which is three levels below the major leagues.

Even after I resigned from the Padres Richard would still talk to me about life and provide sage advice. Two or three years after my resignation, when my attitude towards Larry Lucchino reached an all-time low, I cut myself off from him and from everyone in his orbit including Richard Segal. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face…as was his way when I called him two or three years later he graciously spoke to me although he did ask me about my actions. Yes, Richard Segal and I never met. He preferred counseling people over the phone. I could offer theories about the reasons why, but I would just be guessing. (Larry Lucchino and I have since buried the hatchet, and not in each other’s skulls, but we have still not spoken voice-to-voice in more than 20 years.)

Understandably, Richard was devastated by the death of his wife from cancer. I think that shortened his life as he was only in his early 70s when he died. I believe that for a male in the US the life expectancy at age 65 is 18 years.

I miss Richard’s intelligence and gentle nature. The fact that I will never speak to him again is still unsettling.

 

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