LONGSHOTS: A Father’s Day letter to Dad
by Dave Long
With Father’s Day on Sunday I’ve been thinking about you a lot this week. This will be the 10th Father’s Day since you left us. And since I’m not quite sure what it’s like up there, I thought I’d write you a letter to fill you in on what’s been going on down here since you left.
You know that young defensive coordinator you were always bragging about with the Giants during the Bill Parcells years? He got another chance with the Patriots after getting the shaft in Cleveland. And he’s turned them into what the ’49ers were under Bill Walsh. They’ve won three Super Bowls in eight seasons — which many here say is a dynasty — but you know better. Impressive, but still a few titles and years away from the D word.
You’d like them, although, since you were a Don Shula guy, I’m curious what you’d have thought about their run at an undefeated season this fall. Many of his Dolphins were yakking as the wins piled up. They passed Miami’s 17 in the AFC title game. And guess who was waiting at the Super Bowls. Your Giants — who came back from the dead to get there.
The Pats beat them in a spectacular game the final week of the season when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw his 51st TD pass. That’s 15 more than our beloved Y.A. Tittle threw the first year we watched football together — when the Giants lost to Da Bears in the 1963 title game. Bitter cold day — remember? Y.A. is now 81 — how can that be? You’d have loved the big game. The Giants defense played great and the O scored with less than a minute left to win, thanks to an UNBELIEVABLE catch on the drive by some guy named David Tyre, who trapped the ball against his helmet while being tackled.
It looked cool on flat-screen TV, which weren’t invented when you left. Since your career started when radio was the miracle medium, then black and white TV and then, oh my gosh, color TV, you’d be pretty impressed. They’re so precise that when your guy John Madden does one of those “look at that guy, over there in the eighth row” deals, you can see the hair falling out of his bald spot.
Technology overall is amazing. They’ve got this thing called the Internet now that has put the big daily newspapers on the endangered species list. It’s like a library at your fingertips that lets you find almost anything instantly. Like the other day when I was messing around and stumbled on the box scores from the first game you ever took me to.
Remember that day? The vivid colors just burst into my eyes leaving the tunnel to see the field where you actually saw the Babe play when you were the same age as I was that day. It was like when Dorothy opened the cabin door to get her first look at the land of Oz. If I never told you, that was one of the greatest days of a wonderful childhood. So, thanks.
It was Aug. 29, 1962. The Yanks lost 3-2 to Cleveland. It all came back as I read the box score. It was the year my guy the Mick won his final MVP. He made a nice shoestring catch and had two hits. Roger Maris hit his 30th homer, a far cry from the 61 he’d hit a year earlier. And there was Yogi getting a pinch hit on a ball that bounced five feet in front of the plate that he stroked to right after the hop.
The Cleveland star was Tito Francona. He was three for four and scored twice. He’s the father of Terry Francona, who now manages the Red Sox. Tito also made his 20th error that day. An unbelievable number for a first baseman, especially in light of the fact Boston’s current first baseman went all last year and this one without making even one. You’d like Kevin Youkilis, dad. He’s tough; he plays hard, hurt and anywhere when needed.
He just got smacked by his own teammate in the dugout over some internal stuff. The smacker was Manny Ramirez, who may be as good as your guy Jimmy Foxx. He just hit his 500th homer and has an outside shot at finishing third all time in RBI and he’ll beat double X in both categories. Calling it RBI is not a mistake. A while back an English teacher somewhere declared “RBI’s” grammatically incorrect and everyone bought it. So now it’s RBI, not RBI’s. I know — yuck!
You’re not going to believe it, but the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004 and again last year. And the result is that you won’t recognize the place. No more doom and gloom and no more out on the ledge after they lose two in a row. And most amazing, they came back from down 3-0 to beat the Yankees in the ALCS to get to the series. It really ticked George off.
Speaking of George, he’s retired now. A son no one ever heard of named Hank is in charge. He talks as much as George, so I’m sure you’d still be yelling at the TV anytime the owner appears. The best thing the Yanks did since you’ve been gone was help the city deal with the 9-11 attack. It happened Sept. 11, 2001, when Arab terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center buildings. They burned and eventually crashed to the ground. Phil Hayes’ father was one of nearly 3,000 people who died. I know — if it had happened before you retired, you’d have been right down the street. It was a sucker punch that stunned the city. Its recovery was aided by having the series played in the Bronx a month later. Especially when two of the games were won with Yankees walk-off homers.
And finally, something from your favorite sport. That kid Tiger Woods you heard about since he was 10? He’s the real deal. Already won 13 majors. I know you can’t believe it, but he’s as good as the Bear. Maybe better.
Well, that’s about it from here. You have a good day. Tell mom, grandma, grandpa, Mick and the Babe I said hi. And it wouldn’t hurt to put in a good word for me with the big fella too.
I miss you.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.