Its been a difficult last two weeks.
My father passed away on February 15, 2008. He was seventy-five. We weren't as close as many sons and fathers are. Without going into great detail about our relationship, which was contentious at time, he was able to influence my life, immensely.
My dad grew up on the Dodgers of Brooklyn. He loved Duke Snyder and would describe they way the lefty would swing and how the ball looked when he Snyder hit a home run. Despite loving the Dodgers, and loathing the Yankees as he did, I remember when Mickey Mantle died a decade ago, my father actually cried.
Naturally, after the Dodgers left Brooklyn, he began rooting for the Mets in 1962 and when I came around to following baseball, the Mets, naturally, were my team as well. He took me to my first game on July 28, 1976. The Mets lost to the Pirates 1-0, despite Tom Seaver's heroic performance. But it wasn't the game, it was being with him that I enjoyed most.
I also loved when he would talk to me about the great Knick teams that I just missed out on. He loved basketball, I think, more than any other game. Willis Reed, Dave Debusshure, Bill Bradley and, of course, Walt "Clyde" Frazier. That was truly a time to be a Knick fan. He always told me that a great team, like the Knicks team of the late sixties and early seventies, had to have balanced scoring. When a player scored too many points, he looked down on it because he was weened on teamwork.
Then, of course, was the New York Giants. My father was usually off on Sundays and he would take me for a drive around Brooklyn. We would listen to the Giants' games on the radio. The Giants were bad in the late seventies and he would remind me of the excellent Giants teams of the 1950s and early sixties. It wasn't just the Giants. He admired great Packers teams of the sixties lead by the great Vince Lombardi.
About the Giants, my father told me about Andy Robustelli, Jim Katkavage, Rosie Grier and Frank Gifford. Who could forget Sam Huff?
Truly, though, he had enormous respect for the Packers. The power sweep, Bart Starr, Jim Ringo. He always said, "you knew it was coming, but it was impossible to stop!"
What can one say about one's own father. I wish I had had the wisdom to have said in this article, what I should have said to his face.
Love, your son,