I got into sports because of my dad, but my mom would end up playing a huge role, too. Dad was a high school basketball coach, who later became a HS and college referee. I used to tag along with him to all his games, no matter what level.
My dad would get done teaching English at Muhlenberg High School outside of Reading, and then he would head home, change and go to his game. If Muhlenberg rings an early bell, yeah, my mom and dad taught at the same public high school, taught the same subject and had rooms next to each other.
Dad’s reffing schedule was pretty much locked in during fall and winter. Monday would be high school girls basketball; Tuesday was high school boys basketball; Wednesday was men’s college; Thursday was back to girls high school basketball; Friday, high school boys basketball; back to a college game on Saturday.
As for my mom, she had a more immediate and tangible link. Through dumb luck, at least as far as I was concerned, my mom happened to be best friends with Carmen Perroti. Mom and Carmen knew each other since they were young girls. Went — and still go — way back. When Carmen got married, she was known as Mrs. Colavito.
Yes, that Colavito. Rocky Colavito.
My sports’ focus would become basketball, but damn, my first love was baseball. You know how you sometimes try to figure out your first memory? I do that in sports, alot. And it’s mostly about baseball.
I remember the Reds sweeping the Yankees in the World Series.That puts me at 12-years-old in the Fall of 1976. That’s how I get started on my memories. I remember Garfield Heard making that improbable shot in the three-overtime game — Suns vs. Celtics. Well, that was the spring/summer of ‘76, which puts me in my late 11s. I can recall what happened on Oct. 21, 1975.
That’s when my dad woke me up from sleeping and said: “Son, come down and watch the rest of this World Series game.” The Red Sox and Reds had gone into extra innings in Game 6 at Fenway Park, and it was a classic It was also past my bedtime as I had just turned 11. But even dad knew I’d want to see this. Though we had no allegiance to either team. The allegiance was to baseball.
Discombobulated, I went downstairs and curled up on the couch for extras. I wish I could tell you I remember Dick Drago holding the Reds scoreless in the ninth, 10th and 11th but I can’t. I can tell you I remember when Carlton Fisk hit that long fly ball down the left field line. The ball that may have been coaxed fair by Fisk’s waiving as he straddled down the first base line. Ball went over the monster, there would be a Game 7, and I would later realize that I’d watched live one of the greatest moments in baseball history.
Ever try to read a book and see that long prologue to start? I end up not reading either. And, like I said, I know I can’t write a book. See previous post. OK, so my buddy Dana. He’s a real go-getter, an idea guy, always saying I should do this and I should do that.
My buddy Dana is from the Midwest, Milwaukee to be specific, and a huge sports fan, loves his teams in The Mil, knows a lot about sports and we’re about the same age. We came up during the 70s and 80s. Please don’t ask me to describe the decade, I’ve got no clue. All I know is I was playing Strat-O-Matic-Baseball, watching Phillies and Yankees games on TV — as much as we could see them back then — playing wiffle ball, playing two-on-two in the Heck’s front court, balls and strikes, etc., that’s all — sports.
Dana was living a similar life in Wisconsin, though under much different circumstance when it comes to means and accessibility. Nevertheless the Bay brought us together about 20 years ago, and we often remember stuff from the 70s, though not always precisely. And that’s my bond with Dana, who is encouraging me to tell a few stories, share a few thoughts and what the hell? Now, I’m going to get back to Suns-Clippers Game 6. Dana will appear periodically …