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Me, Mom & Frank Sinatra

October 11, 2014

FrankSinatraLike any good son that loves his mother I always wanted to do something nice for her on her birthday. And I usually did. One exception was that time when I was about 12-years old when mom told me that she didn’t want anything for her birthday. That was the year that I went out and bought a baseball glove with the money I was going to spend on her birthday gift.

When her birthday rolled around and all she got from me was a card, I could sense her disappointment. Then my Aunt Toni called me on the phone and berated me for not getting her sister a present. Needless to say I learned at a young age that women never mean what they say. That lesson has served me well in life with the exception of the one time I slipped. It was around 1987 and my then girlfriend told me, “Go to your friend’s bachelor party, have fun, I’ll be alright home alone.”

Of course when I got home I heard, “I don’t believe that you actually went to that bachelor party, and left me here alone on a Saturday night.”

I really couldn’t understand this. I mean we had cable and a VCR player, it’s not like she was all alone.

For more on the subject of women never saying what they mean see the movie Tootsie. There is an exchange between Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange that will drive this point home.

Mom’s birthday is October 12, which is kind of cool that a genuine Italian mother was born on Columbus Day. She’d even get a parade on her birthday! In the summer of 1982, I procured two tickets for a Frank Sinatra concert at Carnegie Hall on September 19. It was a little early for mom’s birthday but I didn’t have any say in Sinatra’s tour planning. frankstub2

I secured the ducats through my friend Mike who got them from a ticket scalper named Sidney whom Mike knew from around Madison Square Garden. Sidney was nicknamed “Mumbles” by the other ticket scalpers because he could barely talk due to a tracheotomy tube he had inserted in his neck. Mike and I never referred to him by his obviously very un-PC nickname. We were always respectful and called him Sidney. I paid $80 for two seats in the first row of the balcony in Carnegie Hall, which for a college student at the time was a lot of money. But mom was worth it.

The night of the show we took the bus across town to 57th and Broadway and walked south for a bit. We found a Chinese restaurant near the Ed Sullivan Theater and had dinner. When we got to Carnegie Hall, mom realized she would have to climb a lot of steps to get to our seats, which she was not happy about. Diabetes and a smoking habit made stairs difficult for her. I told her to just take her time and if she had to go to the bathroom now would be a good time. Once the show started I knew she would not want to get up.

The problem with seats in the first row of the balcony is that once you get to the top of the balcony, you have to walk down to your seats. I could see the look on her face that said “not more stairs!” We made our way to our seats and settled in to listen to some music. First up was drummer Buddy Rich who was absolutely amazing. I would place Carl Palmer and Mr. Rich as the two best drummers I have ever seen just for sheer speed. Keep in mind I was never fortunate enough to see Keith Moon or John Bonham.

After Buddy’s set and a brief intermission, it was time for the Chairman of the Board, Old Blue Eyes himself. He opened with “I’ve Got the World on a String.” Somewhere in the middle of the song mom turned to me and said, “The girl next to me has a tape recorder in her bag, she’s recording the show.” Obviously this was mom’s first ever encounter with a concert bootlegger. However, I am pretty sure she knew other types of bootleggers, having been born during prohibition.

I told her to just enjoy the show try not to say anything that would ruin the girls recording, clap nicely after each song and for God’s sake, do NOT yell out “Freebird.” The last reference went right over her head.

Sinatra played a decent 14-song set that included: “My Kind of Town,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “I’ve got you Under My Skin” closing with “New York, New York.” At one point between songs, he burped into the microphone and said, “Well, what did you expect from a saloon singer?” This brought a roar of laughter from the crowd.

Another highlight was a woman, whom I estimated to be in her twenties, in the orchestra section who must have been motioning for a kiss or a hug from Sinatra. He called her over to the stage and when the singer bent down to oblige her request; she kissed him and picked the handkerchief out of the pocket of his tuxedo. She then bolted up a side aisle back to her seat waving her stolen hankie. I half expected Jilly Rizzo and some of the boys to appear out of nowhere and lean on her to give the hanky back, but that never happened. I just hope that girl still has the handkerchief as it is a nice souvenir.

After the show I told mom to just relax and let the people file out so that we wouldn’t have to contend with the crowd. This would also make it easier for me to talk to an usher or a security person to see if we could take the elevator down to the first floor. A security person that I spoke to and explained that my mom wasn’t feeling up to walking down several flights of stairs was kind enough to get us an elevator.

As we left Carnegie Hall mom was beaming, she loved the show. “That was the second time I’ve seen him,” she said to me. Obviously the first time was probably in the 1940’s at the Paramount. When she told me this I thought to myself, that at that point in time I had already seen Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and Queen three times each. Currently I’m up to around 75 Springsteen shows, nine for the Stones, six for U2, four each for Paul McCartney and Billy Joel (including two New Years Eve shows) and three for the Who. Yeah I guess you can say I like live music. A few months after this Sinatra show I saw a great double bill at Hofstra University featuring the Ramones and the B-52’s. As you can see I like all kinds of music.

I’m just glad mom had a great time and enjoyed her birthday present. It was better than a baseball mitt. Of course if she was still here today I would probably get her the bootleg of that show! Happy Birthday in Heaven mom.

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Two Michaels

September 11, 2014

The Statue of Liberty, with the twin towers in the background: their destruction happens halfway thr

I lost two friends 13 years ago today and I want to share some stories about each of them.

Michael Armstrong worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. He was due to get married in late September. He was getting ready to go to Las Vegas for his bachelor party later that week. Needless to say he never made ether event. I don’t recall exactly when I met Mike but I would say it was sometime around the early 80’s. I used to hang out with a crew from St. Ignatius in a place we called the Sand Park – It’s really known as Ancient Playground – across the street from where Mike lived. His dad was the superintendent of a building on Fifth Avenue.

In August, 1982 Mike and I ventured out to the Meadowlands for a Queen concert. I don’t know where Mike got the tickets but I do know they were freebies as the price on the ticket read $0.00. I still have the stub. Our seats were in the 13th row on Brian May’s side of the stage. Freddie and the band were in good form that night and we had a blast.

Since turnabout is fair play, about a year later I got tickets for a show in the Beacon Theater. I do not remember the headlining band but I do recall the opening act was scheduled to be the Bangles. I always had a thing for Susanna Hoffs who I thought was really cute and I wanted to see her and her band live.

When Mike and I got to the Beacon on 74th and Broadway the theater was locked with “Tonight’s Show Cancelled” on the marquee.  This was before Facebook and Twitter where I probably would have known about the cancellation that morning if not a day or two before hand.

As I stared at the marquee, Mike just started to laugh. “You’re lucky I’m not a girl and this isn’t a date, because that would have been messed up,” he said.

“Yeah I guess you’re right,” I answered. “Well even though you are not a girl and this isn’t a date, let’s go and grab something to eat and drink my treat since I owe you one.”

We ended up in Beefsteak Charlie’s somewhere on either Broadway or Amsterdam Avenue and proceeded to drink all the beer the waitress kept bringing to the table. Everyone remembers their slogan, “Unlimited salad bar and all the free beer wine and sangria you can drink.”  Throughout dinner we just laughed at the show being cancelled.

The last time I saw Mike was a few nights before New Year’s Eve 1998 at a Fordham Rams basketball game in the Bronx. I was covering the game for the Post and Mike, being a Fordham alum, was cheering on his alma mater. He spotted me and came down to press row where I was interviewing Jeff Van Gundy, who was at the game as the NBA was on strike at this time.

Van Gundy could not talk about the Knicks but he did want to discuss Fordham’s Basketball team. Now I knew my editor didn’t want to run a story on Van Gundy’s views on Fordham basketball, he wanted news on the NBA. Van Gundy would not accommodate me and I didn’t get a story, but he was still pleasant and a great guy to interview.

Mike waited me to finish with Van Gundy whom I introduced Mike to telling Jeff that he was a good friend of mine and a Fordham Alum. Mike and I got to chat and catch up a little bit before the game started. He told me that he and some friends were going to be in a bar on Fordham Road after the game and I was welcome to join them. I agreed and told him I might be a while because I have to write and file my story after the game.

After I was all done I met them at the designated spot and had a few drinks. Then a bunch of us shared a cab back into city. That was the last time I saw my friend.

Michael Carroll was a member of the New York City Fire Department. He was also married to my good friend Phil’s sister, Nancy. Michael was also one hell of a ball player. I played against him in our grade school league in a field under the 59th Street Bridge. For a little guy (at the time) he could hit. See the Sports Illustrated article in the December 24-31, 2001 issue if you really want to read about Michaels prowess on the baseball field.

Michael also had a sharp sense of humor. One time we ran into each other on the street and he said that he had to ask me something.

“Explain to me why I have to go to MY mother-in-laws apartment for YOUR birthday,” he asked me in mock seriousness. “I’m family and I don’t get a birthday party from my mother-in-law.”

“Well it’s because I am an orphan and I don’t have anyone to throw me a party,” I answered with a fake sorrowful look on my face. “And as far as your mother-in-law not doing anything for your birthday I know you’re full of crap!”

We looked and each other then started laughing. To know Michael’s mother-in-law, Grace, is to know one of the sweetest and kindest people our neighborhood of Yorkville ever produced. I know he got birthday parties with a nice cake and even a gift or two.  As we parted, I told him that he didn’t have to bring a gift or anything, “However I have been looking at this new Mercedes…”

Michael just shook his head, laughed and walked away.

A few years later we were at a restaurant in the Bronx after Michael’s father-in-laws funeral and burial. Michael was haggling with his young son over how much time he could spend playing his hand-held video game. I was sitting across the table from them watching the negotiations. When Michael said to me, “I don’t mind him playing, but he gets addicted. I just don’t want him doing it in the house when it is a nice day outside.”

That scene in the restaurant always pops into my mind when I see my own son glued to his video game and I want him to be playing outside on a nice sunny day. I don’t recall the last time I saw Michael but I am sure it was probably at his mother-in-law’s house over birthday cake.

To my friends up in heaven I miss you both.

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First Grade, Old Friends and a Final Journey

September 4, 2014

For the past few days Facebook has been filled with parents posting their kids back to school pictures and I was no exception. I posted a picture of my little guy outside the house with his Ninja Turtles backpack. The past few nights as I have tucked him into bed, said his prayers with him and read him some books, he has voiced his concerns to me about school. Seems he was nervous because he is shy. Just the fact that MY son is shy is shocking to anyone that truly knows me. The shyness obviously comes from his mother’s side of the family.

I put his mind at ease and told him that there would probably be some kids in his first grade class that were in his Kindergarten class the year before. Of course I was right, because when I got home that night he counted five kids in his new class that were with him the previous year.

This made me think back to my first year of grade school in Our Lady of Good Counsel in September 1968. Now I will be honest and admit that I don’t remember the first day, after all it was 47 years ago. Looking back on what I have learned and read about 1968 in American History, I will say that it was one totally messed up year for this country — Assassinations, Vietnam, Chicago — as well as other parts of the world like Czechoslovakia and the Prague Spring.

What I do remember is that the first friend I made was a blonde haired kid named Bobby Rusiecki who sat directly behind me. Our teacher, Sister Consalata distributed coloring books and crayons that first week and we were to color the pictures, one a week, in order, starting with page one.

Of course as all curious kids do, Bobby and I looked through the book and somewhere in the middle were a policeman and a fireman on opposite pages. Bobby liked the cop and I was immediately drawn to the fireman. So being the little rebels that we were, we decided to skip ahead and color them first and not tell anyone. Bobby used blues for the cop and I used reds for the fireman. Thankfully we never got caught for skipping ahead. It was my first true act of defiance of authority and it felt good!

As I was looking up the correct spelling of Bobby’s name for this post, I found something that hit me in the gut like a Rocky Balboa left hand. Bobby died last week.

This was supposed to be a happy blog post about kids starting out on the journey of a new school year. Instead I get to reminisce about an old friend. Bobby and I went to school for eight years graduating together in 1976. The both of us along with two other classmates, Jack and Kevin, took the test to attempt to get into Regis High School which at the time had the reputation as one of — if not the best — Catholic High Schools in the city. We were baseball teammates when we played under the bridge at 59th Street and York Avenue. I can still see him coaching third base and touching his stomach and nodding as the sign for me to take on a 3-0 pitch.

We ran into each other in the Key Food on 92nd Street and Second Avenue, I want to say about 12-13 years ago. He still looked the same with that full head of blonde hair. He told me that he was writing comedy at the time, and I told him that I was writing sports for the New York Post. I mentioned to him that I used to tend bar in the Comic Strip on Second Avenue and that one of our friends, Phil was still working there behind the bar. We parted ways and said that we would try to keep in touch. That was the last time I saw him.

According to his obit he was living and working in Florida. Back in 2008 when I still used to buy actual physical newspapers I came across the obituary for Bobby’s older sister Colleen. I know he also had a younger sister named Elaine whom has my condolences.

Needless to say I am heartbroken today upon reading this news. All I can do is try not to cry and go to church this afternoon and light a candle for his soul. Godspeed my friend, until we meet again. Maybe when we do meet up, St. Peter can find us those coloring books and we can skip ahead to the fireman and policeman just like old times.

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My Pre-Wedding Dinner was a Killer

August 4, 2014

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On my eighth wedding anniversary I’d like to share a little tale about that weekend.

One of my favorite parts about my wedding weekend was the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. The restaurant was in a beautiful spot right on the shore of Lake Ontario. I was surrounded by my best friend, the woman I love, family and my future in-laws. It was a great evening, plus I still had time to change my mind and not get married the following day! Maybe hop a flight to Vegas with my best man and just gamble the drink the weekend away. Ah but then I would have missed a huge party with good food, good drink, loud rock-n-roll and lots of fun.

As we were sitting at our table it was me, my soon-to-be wife Cindy, my best man Dennis, my Aunt Toni and my future mother-in-law Mary Ellen. Aunt Toni would be celebrating her 50th Anniversary with my Uncle Vito in November. They were married in 1956 and there is an interesting story that goes with their wedding. I made sure Aunt Toni told the tale at our table that night.

I was six years from being born, when these events took place, but I had heard the story a dozen times and it still kind of horrifies me and makes me laugh at the same time. This would be the first time the rest of my soon to be family would be hearing the tale.

Turns out Aunt Toni and Uncle Vito were supposed to get married in September, 1956 but something happened. One of Uncle Vito’s uncles got shot and killed so the wedding was put on hold. One story goes that my cousins John and Al, who were seven and six respectively at the time, were sitting on the stoop a few days after the killing and they were quite upset.

“I was really looking forward to Aunt Toni’s wedding,” said Johnny.

“Me too,” said Al, who then asked, “Do you think they’ll ever get married now?

“I am sure they will,” replied John, “I just wished they could have waited until after the wedding to kill him, this really messed everything up.“

Ah kids!

My aunt continued telling the story about how she had to go and see about moving the wedding forward a few weeks after the wake and funeral. Remember this was long before the days of “No returns on deposits, all sales final, no you can’t have your money back, tough luck.”

At this point, my future mother-in-law is spying my aunt and myself with this look of total disbelief on her face. She mustered up the courage to ask, “Did they ever catch the guy that shot him?”

Aunt Toni answered, “Oh that guy got shot about six months later.”

I thought my mother-in-law was going to have a heart attack.

My friend and best man Dennis who was sitting there silently listening to the whole conversation finally chimed in with, “So then it all worked out, that’s good.”

I looked at my bride-to-be and in my best Al Pacino as Michael Corleone imitation said, “That’s my family Cindy that’s not me.”

Dennis and Aunt Toni laughed; Mary Ellen and Cindy had these horrified looks on their faces. For a while there I think my mother-in-law thought her daughter was marrying into the Corleone Family.

Fortunately Aunt Toni and Uncle Vito’s wedding finally went off without a hitch in early November. They never had children of their own so all of their nieces and nephews (somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 of us) became their children. There is nothing that either one of them wouldn’t have done for any of us.

Uncle Vito passed away in 2011 and Aunt Toni is now 84 and moving a little slower. She is also beginning to clean out her house and get rid of things she no longer needs. When she asked me what I wanted. I told her I want the phone from Oklahoma and her wedding album.

The phone from Oklahoma has its own story attached to it. As for the wedding album, it’s these slides that you drop into a projector. I am guessing this was pretty state of the art for 1956. The photos are pretty funny as Aunt Toni’s side of the family – that’s my side of the family, as Aunt Toni is my mother’s sister — is looking all happy and dressed in all these vibrant and beautiful colors. That is with the exception of my grandmother who was eternally dressed in black. The old joke went like this, Me: Ma why was grandma always dressed in black?

Ma: In case somebody dies, she’s ready.

Uncle Vito’s family was still in the mourning period so they were ALL dressed in black. Quite a contrast.

The next day my own wedding went off well, it was a hot day and I’m just glad it didn’t snow. Remember this is Rochester, New York we are talking about, where snow in July or August probably wouldn’t shock the locals. I’m just glad nobody showed up in black.

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Let’s Go Kings – I Love L.A.

June 4, 2014

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I never liked the New York Rangers. As a 10-year old kid I used to like the Philadelphia Flyers of all teams! I even had a Bobby Clarke poster in my room. Then in 1978, something happened. I watched an amazing playoff series between the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. Game Seven went into overtime and that is when Lanny McDonald broke my heart. But I had a new team to cheer for and they played on Long Island, which is a lot closer than Philadelphia.

The next season the Islanders finished with the best point total in the league, 116 and a record of 51-15-14. The Montreal Canadiens finished with 115 points and a 52-17-11 record. The Isles and Habs also finished 1-2 in goals scored, 358-to337. The Stanley Cup finals were predetermined in my mind. It would be the Islanders and Canadiens.

Then a funny thing happened on the Islanders way to the Stanley Cup Finals – The New York Rangers. If Mr. McDonald broke my heart the year before, The Mafia Line of Phil Esposito, Don Maloney and Don Murdoch (the Godfather and the two Don’s…get it? –one of my favorite line names of all time) stepped on it, kicked it off the roof of Madison Square Garden and on to 8th Avenue where traffic ran over it again and again. Thus my hatred for the Rangers was born!

Fortunately the Canadiens took care of business in five games and the chant of 1940 lived on! If the Islanders-Rangers Series of 1979 destroyed my heart just think about what Ranger fans went through the next four years. The Islanders won the Stanley Cup from 1980 through 1983. Revenge was mine! Four championships in a row including 19 straight playoff series wins. Take that you obnoxious blue seaters! Those four championship years more than made up for that one playoff series loss.

After 11 years of no Stanley Cup finals in New York City or Long Island, another funny thing happened. The Rangers actually won the Cup in 1994. What a great spring that was for the city of New York and Madison Square Garden particularly. The Rangers and the Knicks made it to the finals of their respective sports with both series going seven games. The powers that be at Madison Square Garden had to be happy with that.

The Knicks lost to the Rockets and the Rangers of course beat the Canucks. And you know what? My life didn’t change one bit. Oh sure I could no longer chat 1940 at Islander-Ranger games, but there are worse things in this world. The majority of my friends that are Ranger fans gave me grief. But life went o and my hatred for the Rangers sort of subsided after they won.

A few years later as my sports career progressed, I actually got to meet and interview many members that made up the core of that Ranger team that won the Cup in 1994. And you know what I realized? They were a great bunch of guys.

Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and especially Adam Graves were some of the nicest athletes and more importantly, people, you would ever want to meet. I enjoyed covering their practice sessions; I liked being around them and talking to them and writing stories about them and the great game of hockey even if they were my team’s arch rivals.

One of my former editors, who’s as big a Ranger fan as you can find, put it best, “Like the players hate the uniform.”

Jerry Seinfeld had a bit about when a player on “your team” moves on to another team, and all of a sudden you are booing him. He was so good last year now he is no good. So technically you are rooting for clothing. The player puts on a different shirt and he gets booed.

I saw this first hand when covering a Ranger game vs. the San Jose Sharks in the late 1990’s. Former Ranger playoff hero Stephane Matteau was now with the Sharks. He got into a scrap with a Ranger player and fists started flying with the Ranger player getting the best of Matteau. The Ranger fans in Madison Square Garden actually started cheering. A fellow reporter turned to me and said, “How soon they forget.”

I just nodded at him. Remember it was Matteau’s goal against the Devils that got them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. Rooting for clothing indeed!

As a Yankee fan I can’t root for the Red Sox, as an Oakland Raider fan I can’t root for any other team in the NFL, especially those in the AFC Western Conference. And as an Islander fan, well I just can’t root for the Rangers, nice guys or not.

The only ways I’d root for the Rangers to win are:

1.)    If it could help the Islanders in the standings and

2.)    If they played against a team made up of al Quada and Taliban operatives.

Since the Islanders are a few years – and that is being kind – away from being a playoff team, and terrorists don’t play hockey in the dessert, I am pretty safe.

Let’s Go Kings! And if the Kings falter, I will NOT be at the parade in lower Broadway.

Sorry Ranger fan friends.

Now where did I put my old school royal purple L.A. Kings Marcel Dionne jersey?

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It’s Just Name Calling

May 9, 2014

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Pardon me if I don’t get it. I love football. I love the NFL. In fact I love the NFL so much that I have a freelance gig scoring NFL games from September to January. I love watching football. The game is great. However, I will never get the fascination with fans wanting to attend the NFL Draft.

I have never had nor will I ever have the desire to attend this event. Let’s be honest here, all the draft is, is players names being called. Call me silly but I find nothing exciting about this.

Like any fan I am curious as to who will be selected first. I am also curious as to whom my team, the Oakland Raiders, will select with the fifth pick. I want to know who the hometown Jets and Giants will take as well. And like everyone else I have a morbid curiosity to see how far Johnny Manziel will slip down, that is if he slips at all. As far as being in Radio City Music Hall tonight, you’d have a better chance catching me at a Justin Bieber concert.

Will I watch the draft? If I remember to put it on I will. Even then I will be flipping channels. Keep in mind playoff hockey is in full swing and I’d much rather watch that. More than likely I will read about the draft online that evening or even the next day.

Three days of names being called? And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has talked of potentially stretching it into a four day event? Hahahahahaha!!! Even the most hard core NFL fan would not be able to watch four days of this!

Call me silly, but sitting in Radio City Music Hall tonight listening to the Commissioner call out names is nowhere near as exciting as sitting in a stadium watching a team engineer a fourth quarter comeback after being down by 20 points.

Which sounds better:

“I was in Madison Square Garden in 2004 when I heard Eli Manning’s name called and saw him walk out on to the stage.”

or:

“I was at Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix and I saw Manning throw that pass to David Tyree which I still can’t believe that he caught.”

It is apples and oranges if you ask me. Not only does the second statement sound better but it’s something I’d much rather witness live.

The NFL Draft is not an exact science. More often than not, you can’t judge a pick until that player is four or five years into his career. Some players come in and make an immediate impact like Tony Dorsett did with Dallas in 1977, when he won the Rookie of the Year Award and then a Super Bowl Championship.

For other players it takes a few years to mature into superstardom. Peyton Manning didn’t win his first MVP award until 2003, his fifth year in the league, it would take him another three years to win his first, and as of now, his only Super Bowl Championship. Then there is Ryan Leaf who was drafted in the second slot behind Manning in 1998. I’ll just leave Leaf right there for you to ponder the “not an exact science” statement above.

I am sure there will be thousands of NFL fans in Radio City tonight. I won’t be one of them. After all it’s just names being called.

 

 

 

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Tend to Your Own House Before Passing Judgment on Mine

May 5, 2014

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The following blog post was inspired by something I read on the Huffington Post

I wish people would mind their own business. The reason I mention this is because last weekend after my son’s tee ball game, a woman whose son is teammates with my son followed me to my truck. My son was already strapped in his car seat and the door was closed so he did not hear the conversation.

This woman, whom I recognized as we have spoken at previous games and practices, took me by surprise. She seemed to appear out of nowhere, as I was putting my chair and my son’s equipment bag in the back. She reminded me of “the sidler” from my favorite Seinfeld episode. That’s the one in which Kramer turns his apartment into the Merv Griffin Show, Jerry drugs his girlfriend to play with her antique toys and Elaine is constantly caught off guard by a new employee named Lou Filerman, aka the sidler.

“I just wanted to apologize for my friend’s behavior,” she said to me.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” I replied, somewhat surprised.

“Oh then never mind,” she said as she began to walk away.

“Woah, woah, woah, cat’s out of the bag now lady, so you matters well tell me what this is about,” I said. Then it hit me. I did notice one woman with an infant sitting near me during the game. I also caught her staring at me with a look of contempt as I was attempting to get my son motivated and out on the field.

“Is your friend the woman that was staring at me during the game?” I asked.

“Yes,” said the woman. “She is a new mother and thinks she knows everything about patenting.”

“Ma’am, NOBODY knows everything about parenting,” I said to her. “There is no handbook, we are all learning on the job here. But I do find it funny that your friend with an infant is passing judgment on me with a six-year old.”

I then introduced myself and this woman told me her name and I told her no harm no foul.

As I drove away it dawned on me what had just happened. Some woman, who didn’t even have a kid playing in the game I just watched my son actually play, didn’t approve of my parenting skills. WOW!!!

For the record I am not one of those parents who is yelling from the stands at everyone. I realize my son, nor any of the other kids, are Derek Jeter, Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. They are 5 and 6 year olds out there to have fun and hopefully learn some basic baseball skills. They all look so cute in their uniforms and caps that at a distance it is hard to tell them apart. This is not major league baseball, these are children having fun. And kudos to the coaches who are all very patient with the kids.

As far as laying a hand on my son to motivate or punish him, I would cut off my arm before I would hit him in anger. Sure he gets me frustrated. Ask any parent out there and they will exhaust you with tales of the times their children have misbehaved. It’s just what kids do. And every parent has a different way of dealing with it. I decided to tell my boy that if he didn’t get out on the field there would be no riding the Go Carts after the game. Apparently momma know-it-all didn’t like this tactic either as that’s when I first noticed her staring at me.

Let me back track here a bit. It had been a busy day for us up to this point. We were out the door at 9:30 for team pictures at 9:45. We were done with the pictures by 10:30 so we went to lunch at McDonald’s. The restaurant was in the process of changing from breakfast to lunch so my son had to wait 10 minutes to get his happy meal, which the cashier delivered to our table. I opted to have breakfast so I was good.

We then played in the McDonald’s play area for about 10 minutes. After this, we hit the bathroom and began heading back to the field for our noon game. My son wanted ice cream as we were leaving the restaurant and I told him no, that we would get it after the game. This caused a meltdown, including an “I hate you,” coming from the person I would take a bullet for without blinking an eye.

As I strapped him into his car seat, I said, “That was mean and hurtful, especially since I would do anything for you. Don’t you ever say that again.”

He quieted down as I drove to the field. As I unstrapped him I repeated that what he said was not nice and that I never want to hear that from him again.

“OK daddy, I’m sorry” he said and he gave me a hug.

“Now let’s go and have fun at tee ball,” I told him. “Be sure to listen to the coach and do what he says.”

The problem with my son is that he always wants to hit and not play the field. After not getting to bat in the first inning (he was scheduled to bat in the second inning) he didn’t want to take the field. So I picked him up and put him in his position somewhere between first, second and right field. I stood behind him for the inning and told him to pay attention. The coach didn’t have a problem with this but apparently momma know-it-all did as I noticed her eyes upon me.

Once again, it is tee ball there are no stats kept, everyone bats and everyone plays the field. The kids all shake hands afterwards the coach awards a game ball and then the kids get a snack. My little guy was happy as he got apple juice and popcorn.

Momma know-it-all, you have no clue what my life is like and what I have been through so how DARE you sit there with a disgusted look on your face as I’m talking to my son? But since you are being so judgmental let me give you a little background on me. I never got to know my dad. He died about three weeks before my 7th birthday. I have very few memories of him. I love riding my bicycle because the weekend before my dad passed away that was one of the last things he taught me. I can’t get on a bike without thinking of my dad. I never got to play catch with him or go to a ball game with him. I don’t even know who his favorite team was. Was it the Yankees, or the Mets? For all I know he could have been a Dodger or a Giant fan.

What I do know is that I am going to give my son all the things my father never got to give me. I am going to spend as much time with him as possible and that includes tee ball, gymnastics and soccer. Yes momma know-it-all we do soccer and gymnastics too. If you like I can give you the schedules for those events maybe you can come and pass judgment on us there as well. Or maybe you can find another parent-child combination to stare at and fill them with your vast wealth and knowledge that is all of your — at most — six months of parenting experience.

I have this code that I live by and that is I do not let other people dictate my actions for me. I am going to do what I want when I want. So my son and I are going to be at tee ball every weekend. I am going to cheering for him his teammates as well as the kids on the other teams to do well. I’ll be sitting in my chair and I’ll be motivating my son as well as the other kids. If you don’t like it, if you are so repulsed by this, do not sit near me. It’s a big field, so I am sure you can find another spot to pitch your tent. Who knows maybe you will find someone else to stare at with that tsk, tsk, tsk look of distain on your face.

For the record you are lucky you did not say anything to me because I would have told you to mind your own business. And if you think I am being a bully, I’ll be frank with you, bring down your husband, boyfriend, brother, whomever and I will tell them to mind their own business as well. It was a cowardly thing you did complaining about me, someone you don’t even know, to your friend. Your friend was so embarrassed by your behavior that she had to apologize for you. That action alone speaks volumes of your character.

See I grew up in a place called Yorkville, just a stones throw from Harlem. I grew up in an Irish neighborhood. In fact the projects I grew up in are still called the “Irish Projects” even though there are very few of that ethnic group left there. I got along with everyone, Blacks, Hispanics, Germans, Italians, Jews, Hungarians and more were all among the people I called my friends. I was never a tough guy or a great athlete but I do have what the gang I grew up with like to call “Yorkville Tough.” We don’t back down – especially when it comes to our children.

Momma know-it-all you have got a LOT to learn and I’ll give you your first lesson for free: you tend to your kid’s needs and I’ll tend to mine. Deal? How about that?

 

Here is the story that inspired me, it’s a little long but worth the read.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-ball/to-the-stranger-who-ruined-my-sons-saturday-night_b_5230283.html

 

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