Public Domain Photo: Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams standing Sarasota, Florida (Wikicommons)
Major league umpire Jocko Conlan had enormous respect for hitter Ted Williams. In Minneapolis, in the last of the ninth inning, Mr. Williams came to bat with two outs and his team down by one run, with the bases loaded. It was an exciting game, and Mr. Conlan ended it by calling a third strike on Mr. Williams. Of course, Mr. Williams’ third-base coach, Donie Bush, came running in, screaming in that the ball had been thrown at Mr. Williams’ ankles and should have been called a ball. At this point, Mr. Williams said, “No, Donie, it was a good pitch. It was a perfect strike, right at the knees. I should have hit it.” Mr. Conlan says, “I could have thrown my arms around him. I walked off the field and I thought, ‘What a man this is.’ I never had anyone else in my career do anything like that.”
Trevor Huddleston, an Anglican priest, had an enormous impact on Desmond Tutu of South Africa. When Desmond was a young boy, he saw Mr. Huddleston tip his hat to show respect to Desmond’s mother. The sight of a white man showing respect to a black woman in South Africa at that time was extremely rare, and Desmond never forgot it. Mr. Huddleston’s kindness did not stop there. When Desmond was a teenager, he was hospitalized with tuberculosis and Mr. Huddleston stopped by every day to see him. Because of Mr. Huddleston’s great kindness, Desmond converted to Anglicanism, and later Mr. Tutu became an Anglican bishop. In 1984, Bishop Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to have blacks in South Africa treated with respect and dignity.
While climbing Mount Everett in the successful 1953 expedition that resulted in Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit, the explorers sometimes passed sacred walls made of mani stones. On these stones was engraved a Tibetan Buddhist prayer — Om Mani Padme Hum, or “Hail to the Jewel of the Lotus.” As part of their religion, the Sherpas walk around these walls clockwise, and in respect to the Buddhist religion, the explorers also walked around these walls clockwise, even when the trails were narrow and dangerous. Mr. Norgay was a Buddhist, and when he reached the summit, he buried some small gifts — some candy and a pencil — for the spirit the Sherpa Buddhists believe lives on Mount Everest.
J.D. Salinger’s title for Catcher in the Rye comes from Holden Caulfield’s desire to stand in a field of rye by a cliff and protect the children as they play: “I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” Catcher in the Rye became a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, but its founder, Harry Scherman, asked Mr. Salinger to change the title of his novel to something less odd. Mr. Salinger declined, saying, “Holden Caulfield wouldn’t like that.”
Even late in his career, Rudolf Nureyev demanded respect. At the end of a performance of The King and I in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Nureyev took a curtain call and bowed first to the audience, then to his fellow cast members. Not all of the cast members bowed back. Mr. Nureyev immediately brought his hand down to the level of his crotch — since his back was to the audience, they couldn’t see what he was doing — and darted a finger out like a penis for a moment. At the next curtain call, all of the cast members bowed back to him.
While playing for the Laval Voisins of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Pittsburgh Penguin hockey player Mario Lemieux wanted to honor his hero, professional hockey player Wayne Gretzky, by wearing his number, 99. However, Mr. Lemieux’ agent, Bob Perno, suggested that instead he turn Mr. Gretzky’s number upside down and wear number 66. That’s exactly what Mr. Lemieux did while playing for both the Laval Voisins and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Muslim Ali (aka the Victorious Lion of God), son of Abu-Talib, one morning went from his house to go to the mosque of the Prophet for the dawn service. However, ahead of him was slowly walking an old Jew. Out of respect for the Jew’s old age, Ali did not pass him, but walked behind him, despite the Jew’s very slow progress. It is said that the angel Gabriel, by direct order of God, stopped the Prophet from beginning the dawn service until Ali arrived.
Oscar Wilde greatly respected American poet Walt Whitman and made sure to meet him during his lecture tour through America. At the meeting, the two poets got along well, and Mr. Whitman served his guest elderberry wine. Later, a friend of Mr. Wilde’s, knowing his epicurean tastes, said that it must have been difficult for him to drink the elderberry wine. Mr. Wilde replied, “If it had been vinegar, I should have drunk it all the same.”
As a young boy, while in the Potala Palace, the 14th Dalai Lama enjoyed looking at people in the Tibetan capital city, Lhasa, through his telescope. Sometimes he looked at the people in the prison at the base of the hill the palace was situated on. Whenever the prisoners noticed that the Dalai Lama was looking at them through the telescope, they knelt to show him respect.
Anna Pavlova was famous for her dance interpretation of Camille Saint-Saëns’s “Dying Swan.” After Ms. Pavlova’s death, choreographer Michel Fokine asked ballerina Alicia Markova to revive “The Dying Swan,” but she declined to do so until a note was put in the program saying that the dance was dedicated to the memory of Ms. Pavlova.
In the late 1920s, Alexei Tolstoy’s friends insisted that he watch a performance by young ballerina Galina Ulanova. Afterwards, he said, “I don’t know why you are so excited. After all, she’s just an ordinary goddess.”
When Robert Briscoe was the Jewish mayor of Dublin, Ireland, the citizens used to show him respect by calling leprechauns by the name of “lepre-cohens.”