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I miss my Dad today... But it was a good day!

Posted on 02/02/2014 4:31:54 AM PST by MacMattico

I'm not out to put down any other team, just share a story.

As a little girl growing up near Syracuse, I became a huge basketball and football fan. My Dad was a huge fan and if we weren't at the game, we had the radio on and the TV turned down. If there were more then just he and I watching a game, we each had our Walkmans on to listen to the local guys, especially during football season, because they didn't bother trying to explain the rules of the game to those that just tuned in to "the big game". I got my Walkman in 1985,I think, when I was 15. My Dad was already in his mid fifties but loved it. He could listen to games and all the Big Band music he wanted privately without disturbing my mother. So I saved up some babysitting money and a month after Christmas, his birthday, got him his own Walkman. It cracked me up at the time that he acted like it was the best gift he ever received, an "old"man in his fifties!

My Dad was 6'4" and played football, basketball, and baseball at his small rural high school, graduating class of 1950. If you've ever seen the movie Hoosiers, you get the gist of the school, people and type of area I'm talking about. I marveled at his yearbooks, County Champions at just about every sport. My brother is seven years older then I and the same height as Dad and played the same sports. My Dad coached some of his teams and I would always tag along. I remember calling holding from the side line as a five year old before the flag was thrown, and then the ref called it. My brothers team of twelve year olds laughed hysterically. My father smiled at me and I smiled back. You would think it only natural that my father and brother shared a love of watching sports, but my brother needed to be playing not watching. At dinner one night I told him he'd never get far if he didn't watch tape. My father almost fell out of his chair laughing. I was 8. My brother told me to shut up.

I did the whole Cheerleading thing just to have a good view at Basketball and Football games, but it wasn't fun. I was with a bunch of fake blonde bimbettes that had to have me tell them what was going on. But I got to see the games up close, and I'll admit I did dye my hair.

For the 33 years I had with my Dad on this earth, sports brought us together. He dissected games and I soaked it all in. Syracuse Football, Basketball and Yankees games. When people would say Baseball was boring, I'd say it's because you don't understand it-- it's Chess for athletic people. That was one of my Dad's lines.

When I was younger, Dad wouldn't even get upset when our teams lost, IF it was a hard fought game. He'd compliment great plays by the opposing team. I'd be so upset and ready to throw a shoe at the TV. He'd say "you've got to admit that was a great play!" And I'd say "Oh no I don't!"

My Dad injured his knee playing football his Senior year of High School and after that he couldn't run like before. He was scouted in Baseball, but his knee injury kept him out. In HS he could hit home runs and glide around the bases. This wasn't going to happen in the Big Leagues. His father passed away in his Senior year and because he was the last one at home he immediately got a job to support his mom. My parents were married and they all lived together. I grew up in that house. Not until later in life did I find the letters from colleges recruiting him to play baseball, in a box in the attic.

When Syracuse lost the basketball National Championship to Indiana in 1987, on the last shot, I about died and cried my eyes out. I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen, I thought I could never feel that bad again. My Dad didn't dare say "well that was a clutch play by Indiana at the end." He knew better! But he did tell me to turn my alarm off and told my mother not to bother making me go to school the next day. I was exhausted!

Dad used to talk about Archbold Stadium at Syracuse where he never missed a football game. Rain, sleet, snow, hurricane watch it didn't matter. There was a Blizzard warning one game and his father told him as a teenager that he couldn't take the car to go to the game. He later told me he basically stole his parents car to pick up his friends and head to the game. It took him 8 hours to drive the 15 miles home.

Before the Carrier Dome opened they played basketball at Manley Field house. My Dad was given two tickets for the last game ever played there vs Georgetown. He invited my brother. I was so mad! I told him I was the fan! I deserved to go! What was he thinking??? Looking back I was a fourth grader and my brother was a junior hs basketball player but boy was I angry! When Syracuse lost that game, I told him it was because he gave my brother that ticket!

When my fathers health began to deteriorate, it became really hard for him to attend games at the Dome. He made the effort to take me and my sister to games, but if you know Syracuse, the Dome is basically at the top of a big hill. You can park and take a shuttle but my Dad knew Syracuse and had parked on the same street since the 1940's. He'd walk up that hill just to give us that time and experience together. During basketball season the weather could be brutal, but once inside it was all good. I didn't realize at the time how precious those memories would become.Dad had seen Syracuse win a National Championship in football, many in Lacrosse (always reminded me Jim Browns best sport was Lacrosse!) and obviously "our" Yankees win the WS. We had lived and shared so much. Even after I got married and had a family, we'd go over to watch games. No matter what time of night, We'd call each other to talk about a game. One night a Yankees game went until about 3:00 am. I called. He knew I would.

What eluded "us" was a basketball National Championship. A huge ice storm hit upstate NY in March of 2003. Power was out in our town for a week. My family packed up and drove south to find a hotel room. My mom and Dad stayed at home with a gas fireplace, my dad, a volunteer firefighter for 50 years, went to the fire station and ran logistics.

The power came back on but not the cable. I stupidly chose to watch on a big screen at my sisters, who had a satellite dish. My dad didn't want to come out, he sad he was just getting warm. He watched on an old black and white with the rabbit ears up and put on his Walkman. My sister had a party and although freezing I was in shorts and an SU shirt. With ice everywhere, and below zero temps I told my sister if Syracuse won, I would run the four blocks from her house to my parents in bare feet, shorts and my Syracuse shirt. My sister laughed and said no, I wouldn't.

When the final buzzer went off and Syracuse had won, I took off, screaming like an idiot, ice cutting my feet. The neighbors were all going nuts and laughing, but they knew me. I ran in and my father was like "what are you doing?" But just laughed. We hugged and I jumped around the house like a little kid. My cell and my Dads phone starting ringing, people were congratulating us like we owned the team!

Father's Day came around and I had assembled a nice collection of National Championship merchandise to give to my Dad. I called and said we'd be a few minutes late to the family get together. My mom said that was ok, my sister was coming a little later, too. Some how God made the family members with kids late. Otherwise, my Dad's little grandchildren would have watched as he died in his chair, Yankees just having won a game, Walkman on the table next to him. When I spoke at his funeral, I said he had been in pain, but never gave up and needed to see one more National Championship.

For years my hand would reach for the phone after a good play to call him. I sat in Yankee stadium only weeks after his death and called home, hoping some how he would answer, instead talking to my mom about how she was doing.

Why have I been all over the place in this long, rambling post? My father passed away almost 11 years ago, I've hit 40, but the Syracuse/Duke game brought me back to the Syracuse/Georgetown/Villanova/St. Johns games of my youth. Some of you know I recently had surgery. Not suppose to do much for another week. I probably ripped some stitches. But the Dome was on fire, it was Awesome. I thought of my Dad at the beginning, but not until the end, when I swear I heard my Dad saying "foul him!" Did it hit me. Dad always played the percentages. When finally in OT Syracuse fouled Duke to prevent the three pointer did the emotions really start to show. The game ended and I was a crying, blubbering fool. But those with me knew why. I was happy, but missed my Dad. He would have loved this game. I would have let him say Duke probably should have won making 15/32 3-pointers. And I guess I've matured enough to say thanks Coach K for a great game. It would still be a few more days until I could say that if we'd have lost!

Oh, and Dad wouldn't be happy at the demise of the Big East!

TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Sports
KEYWORDS: dad; fathersday; memories; ncaabasketball
Sorry for going on and on, very emotional, but I can say happy day!
1 posted on 02/02/2014 4:31:54 AM PST by MacMattico
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To: MacMattico

I understand. It was a nail biter. I wish we were watching with my f-i-l. He would have loved it.

2 posted on 02/02/2014 4:46:13 AM PST by lysie
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To: MacMattico
It's a rare sports fan who enjoys the games with such a healthy attitude as your dad. I need to follow his example. And now because of this account, I think I'm going to lessen my grudge against Syracuse for beating Ernie Grunfeld, Bernard King and my Tennessee Volunteers in the 1977 NCAA tournament.

Thanks for posting. Great story.

3 posted on 02/02/2014 4:46:43 AM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
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To: MacMattico

It is a great story.

Thanks for sharing it with us.

4 posted on 02/02/2014 4:50:32 AM PST by exit82 ("The Taliban is on the inside of the building" E. Nordstrom 10-10-12)
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To: Colonel Kangaroo
Well then I'll have to “forgive” Tennessee football for beating Syracuse in the Dome when a questionable call of pass interference kept their last minute drive alive! Tennessee went on to an undefeated season that year, I believe!

To make matters worse I went to the mall afterward and all the Tennessee fans were there! :)

5 posted on 02/02/2014 5:05:32 AM PST by MacMattico
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To: MacMattico

Your Dad sounded like a wonderful man, MacMattico!

6 posted on 02/02/2014 5:08:49 AM PST by momtothree
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To: momtothree

Thanks. I really think he was!

7 posted on 02/02/2014 5:27:08 AM PST by MacMattico
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To: MacMattico
I have to say I'd trade that football win for the basketball game. That '77 team was one of the best Vol squads ever. They just had the bad luck to run into one of the few coaches in the country who could figure out how to beat the Vols' matchup zone.

But what I'd want even more is your dad's healthy attitude to watching sports.

8 posted on 02/02/2014 6:06:21 AM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
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To: MacMattico

Interesting to see your post on this day.

My dad died when I was 13, and my best memories of him were watching and listening to the Orioles games of the late 60’s and early 70’s. My interest in sports continued, and my husband always appreciates that I can intelligently watch a game.

He died on Groundhog Day, and I am grateful that there is an (albeit silly) reminder every year of his passing. I do the math of how many years he has been gone, and think of him.

9 posted on 02/02/2014 7:02:29 AM PST by jaybee
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To: MacMattico
What a beautiful tribute and moving post!

I especially liked the baseball comment:

When people would say Baseball was boring, I'd say it's because you don't understand it-- it's Chess for athletic people. That was one of my Dad's lines.

10 posted on 02/02/2014 7:16:12 AM PST by DeFault User
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To: MacMattico

My Dearly Departed parents grew up in Syracuse, My Dad went to CBA, my Mom, St. Anthony, class of ‘45. My Mom didn’t like the Yankees, so we were all Mets fans :). Nice story - thanks !

11 posted on 02/02/2014 12:06:51 PM PST by jttpwalsh
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To: MacMattico

Sounds like you had a very special Dad, and you guys had a wonderful relationship. You will always have those memories, and I think that is one of the best gifts God gives us, our wonderful memories of the good times we had with our special people.

12 posted on 02/02/2014 10:10:34 PM PST by longhorn too
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