Palindrome – A word, phrase, verse or sentence that reads the same backward or forward, as: A man, a plan, a canal, Panama. From the Greek palindromos, running back again. – The American Heritage Dictionary
It is a spring evening, warm in Los Angeles, and the Angels are trailing the Mets in one of those lazy, laid-back games that seem to go on forever.
Fernando Salas winds up and throws his best pitch, a hard slider, and the batter takes it for called strike three.
Since there are more than 120 games yet to play, it’s too early to worry about if Albert Pujols has another 40-homer year in his aging body, or if Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals will displace the Angel’s Mike Trout as baseball’s best player.
For now, all eyes are on Salas, who is something Sandy Kofax never was, and Nolan Ryan never could be.
Fernando’s last name is a palindrome, which is spelled the same backward and forward.
While watching Salas pitch the other night on television, this hit me about the same time that Salas was knocked out of the inning. A good but not a great pitcher, my hope is that he will be remembered for his arm, not the unusual character of his name.
A friend of mine in high school, Clifford Reuer, also enjoyed this claim to fame. He, too, was an athlete, and became one of the best quarter milers in the state. With lungs like a blacksmith’s bellows, Cliff pounded around the cinder track faster than most with a long and effortless stride. His barrel chest contained a capacity for oxygen conversion that was the envy of friends and opponents alike.
Recalling a name that is spelled the same both ways is easy, but a palindrome can also be a phrase or a sentence. Then it gets complicated.
One famous palindrome is this example: “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.”
Or how about this one: “Was it a car or a cat I saw?”
Sometimes a place is a palindrome, as in Ward Draw, South Dakota, a valley out in Lawrence County not far from Lead.
Or it could be a person’s first name, as in Hannah, who is a newspaper editor.
My father-in-law, Bob, and a niece, Anna, claim the palindrome label.
Also, a single rhyme can be a palindrome: “Madam, I’m Adam,” which has been attributed to Napoleon.
Longer sentences are more complicated: “Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?”
And what about “palin,” without the drome?
That would be a female politician.
May 18, 2016