(The year is 2055, 50 years in the future).
Gather ‘round children while grandpa Jeff tells you an amazing
story about athletic greatness.
Pay close attention, because this isn’t just an average tale. In
fact, I will tell you about the most profound, the most amazing and
the most impressive sports accomplishment in the annuals of athletic
Now, if any of you have questions you would like to ask during the
story, just raise your hand and I’ll do my best to answer them.
The tale goes back to July 2005, a time when gasoline was under $3
a gallon, people used to go to things called theaters to see movies
and our nation’s president, Macaulay Culkin, was just an out-of-work
On a hot summer day, a cyclist named Lance Armstrong made history
by winning his seventh straight Tour de France. For 21 days, the
33-year-old peddled his racing bicycle over mountains and hundreds of
miles of tough roads to claim the title.
Yes, Tommy, I see your hand up. Do you have a question?
“Grandpa Jeff, you mean there was a time when people actually rode
bicycles and got all sweaty doing exercise stuff? That seems kinda
That’s right Tommy. Some people even used bicycles to get places
and they were popular for people who wanted to stay in shape. But
that was before the exercise pill was invented in 2051 and people
didn’t have to work out any more.
This Armstrong character did something that had never been
accomplished before. By winning his seventh consecutive Tour de
France race, many considered his feat the finest ever recorded.
However, there were those who said Armstrong’s exploits were not
that impressive because all he did was ride a bike.
But saying all Armstrong did was “ride a bike” is like saying all
Hemingway did was write, or all Picasso did was paint.
What made his accomplishment even more impressive is that he was
able to overcome cancer to win all those races.
On Oct. 2, 1996, Armstrong got the news he had testicular cancer
that had spread to his lungs and brain. For six hours, doctors
removed tumors from his brain. The surgery was followed by cycles of
painful chemotherapy treatment.
Mary, you had a question?
“My daddy told me about that cancer stuff. He said that a long
time ago, people used to die from it. Is that true?”
Yes, Mary. But we don’t have to worry about cancer today. There
haven’t been any cases of the disease since scientists developed a
cure in 2039. That’s why many people live past 100 these days.
Back to Lance Armstrong.
There has been some other outstanding sporting feats turned in by
athletes over the years. But take it from me, Armstrong’s will always
be the best.
On March 2, 1962, professional basketball player Wilt Chamberlain
scored 100 points in a game for the Philadelphia Warriors against the
New York Knicks. But that’s when the NBA had just nine teams --
compared to 210 today -- and players weren’t yet drafted out of
junior high school.
Another amazing accomplishment came during the 1941 baseball
season when New York Yankees’ slugger Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56
To this day, no other player has come close to the record.
James. You want to ask me something?
“Yes grandpa. What was a New York Yankee?”
Well, my little one. The Yankees used to be the most successful
organization in all of sports. However, when the stock market crashed
in 2010, the team’s owner, George Steinbrenner, lost all of his
money. With no funds to run the organization, he chose to fold the
team instead of letting someone else run it.
The Yankees are kind of like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of today,
expect New York never won 10 straight World Series championships like
the Rays have.
We also can’t forget about the feat by baseball’s Barry Bonds on
Oct. 7, 2001, when the San Francisco Giants’ power hitter belted his
73rd home run of the season.
But just five years later, in 2006, Bonds’ head expanded to such
an enormous size that he wasn’t able to play baseball any more
because he could no longer fit in a batting helmet. And in 2007,
baseball wiped out all of his records after it was determined he used
illegal substances to enhance his athletic prowess.
I realize these other records seem pretty impressive, but they
pale in comparison to what Armstrong was able to do.
Along with his unbelievable physical abilities, the fact that
Armstrong battled back from cancer to become a successful athlete is
Now my little ones, you can tell your children and grandchildren
about the great Lance Armstrong, and what he was able to accomplish
Yes, Jenny, you had one last question?
“Grandpa, can I go out and ride my personal spacecraft now?
Certainly my dear. Just look both ways when you cross the
* JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. He can be
reached at 637-3245, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.