Archive for 'Family'

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April 14, 2009
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 I have never trusted history. I feel it is crafted by those who have won wars, have great influence or perceived events according to personal bias.

When I was a young boy, up high in my Dad’s chest of drawers, was a box…. stay with me, that stuff was up a little higher :)  This box was torn and tattered, barely able to stand on its own.  The best I can figure, the first time I saw the box and its contents, the box was probably 16 years old and I was probably 5.  I no longer have the box, I remember it being a worn yellow and red color with the the word Reach with a big cursive R that swooped down under the rest of the word.  The baseball the box contained looked as new as the day it was made, and the condition of its box was the only thing that gave away its age.

 My father was first generation off-the-boat Italian who grew up in Lodi, New Jersey.  He had a rare blood disorder as a child and was not expected to live.  My grandmother and grandfather sacrificed quite a bit to provide what was needed to give him the best chance.  There efforts paid off and my father grew to be an incredible athlete, who was recruited to play college baseball & football. Unfortunately, my grandparent’s lacked the resources for college to become a reality.  Instead of a college athlete my father became an incredible father and husband.

Nature vs Nurture.  While I physically & creatively  take after my mother, my father had a strange way of nurturing.  When I was about 15 and playing high school baseball, I asked my dad if he would throw a few pitches to me.  My dad worked 2nd shift so we were cutting into his sleep time.   Walking to the school ball field, we passed a few of my friends who were on their way to do something “fun”.  The batters box was the last place I wanted to be, I wanted to be with my friends.  After several half-assed swings on my part my father figured it was time to nurture.  Like I said I physically take after my mother not my father, he was 6’2” and approximately 240lbs at this time.  With me in the box, no batters helmet on and not really paying attention…. my father rares back and brings the heat.  By the time I figure out that the ball is coming at me it is way to late!  I just get my face turned away and the ball caught me in the ribs under my arm sending me to the ground.  He never said a word to me, he just stood on the mound with another ball in his hand waiting for me to get back in the box.  I dug back in fearing for my life not knowing where the next pitch was going to be.  While  not the most orthodox approach I learned several valuable lessons that day.  If you are going to do something do not half-ass it…. do it!  Value others peoples time and above all else do not piss off a 240lb right hander with a ball in his hand.

I don’t ever remember having a conversation with my father about the origin of the ball in the tattered box, but I knew its story.  Around the time my father was 13, he and his mother  ventured into the city see a double header at Yankee Stadium, I did not know what year it was or who they were playing.  Sometime during the 1st game my father catches a home run which I believed was hit by Roger Maris. Between games his mother drags him down to the Yankee dugout to see if they can get it autographed.  They are met with some resistance, my grandmother was a feisty woman, eventually she got her way.  A short time later the ball returns in a box, with 26 signatures.  Mickey Mantel, Yogi Bera, Ed Ford (he wasn’t Whitey yet) Elston Howard, Clete Boyer and many more adorn the ball. What a train ride home that must have been for him.  The following day there was a picture in the paper of him catching the home run ball.  I never saw the newspaper clipping.

When my father died in 1998 my mother gave me his baseball and a tool box.  I still have both, the tool box has some notes in my fathers hand writing that are eerily similar to my signature.  The ball is my most priced possession.  He watched me play countless ball games, we watched countless ball games together sitting in our family room and he took me to my very first ball game in Yankee Stadium.   I have never had the ball appraised or considered selling it, it will be given to Bobby when its time.

 Well… I thought that was the story of the ball in the box.  This past weekend Bobby and I were up at my mothers enjoying the Easter holiday.  She pulled Bobby aside and gave him a gold chain that my father had worn for years, purchased during one of his many trips around the world that always resulted in the most enjoyable stories upon his return.  She then told me that she had found the news paper clippings of Dad catching the home run ball.  I sat down with my mother at her kitchen table, what I saw when I opened the envelope just didn’t make sense. I thought for years it was a Maris home run ball, it wasn’t!  It wasn’t even a Yankee home run ball…. worse yet it was a Boston Red sox dinger….. my head was spinning.  The envelope contained 3 news paper clippings dated September 23, 1957.  The last thing in the envelope was an autographed photograph of Ted Williams.  Two of the three news paper clippings were also signed by Ted Williams, the third was a duplicate with and arrow drawn to my father and and inscription in the lower corner that said “I caught Ted Williams home run”.  The only saving grace was that the Yankees won 5-1.  Why did I not know it was a Boston Red Sox homer….. Ted Williams at that!  Like I said I can not remember ever having a conversation with my father about this ball, but I must have.  Did I put my own spin on what I wanted it to be?  I was a kid, I would have no way of knowing who Ted Williams was….  Did I believe it was a Maris home run for so long that it became the truth to me?  Or did I just know it was a superstar and assumed it was Roger Maris……

Either way, my father caught it, then my grandmother got the whole Yankee team to autograph it and then somehow got Ted Williams to autograph the news clippings and in the process got and autographed picture of him. This story is more unbelievable then I could have imagined.  The ball is and will remain a part of our family for a long time to come…. and the pictures and story will go with it. 

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August 01, 2008
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August 1st 1994 my wife gave me my the greatest gift ever, my son was born on my birthday!  I think he maybe the only gift she has given me that I have not returned…. although I have thought about returning him at times.   While driving to my hockey game the night before our b-day we figured out that this will be our one and only anagram birthday, he is 14 and Im 41.  He is truly an amazing kid, incredibly athletic (working on a 2 1/2 off of the high dive at the pool), loves to play and perform on his guitar, and is truly a kind and thoughtful person.  Happy 14th Birthday Buddy!  Love ya!

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May 09, 2008
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The first show that I ever went to was in 1984 to see Van Halen with David Lee Roth.  I never would have thought that 24 years later, with my son, I would get to see them again.  Lola got ticket a few months ago for the Atlantic City Board Walk hall, the show was originally canceled, they finally made it here last night.  First off Boardwalk Hall is quite the place to see a show!  I literally parked and was drinking a beer in my seat in less than 10 min.  As for Van Halen….. I had no idea what to expect, David Lee is back (and in incredible shape), Wolfie (Eddies son) on bass 24 years later… The show was full of energy and sounded really good.  Edie still can make a guitar scream, when you see them live you really see  how everything is built around his guitar playing.  During his Solo (eruption) I watched Bobby and he just stared at the big screen watching Edie’s hands in awe.  Wolfie can tear the friggin bass up,  obviously he got the gig because of his dad, but he sounded really good (Michael Anthony who) and he also sang backup for every song.  The only complaint I had was that I forgot how dam goofy David Lee Roth is.  I recently saw the Foo Fighters and front man David Grohl had a charismatic, humbling, laid back demeanor, Roth on the other hand is from a different era of flamboyant antics.  With that being said the dude is in incredible shape, his actually ripped, I really didnt want to see his ripped stomach, but read last few sentences about flamboyant front man ship.  Just to many high kicks for me!  Bobby loved the whole show, and that means more to me than anything.  This shot is taken with my iPhone (reduced by 50%)  camera kicks ass.

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May 03, 2008
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Bobby has been busy with the guitar lately.  He played the talent show at Eastampton Middle School and came in second place (good for a $25 gift card).  You can check out the YouTube video of him performing (playing guitar and singing) “Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd.   He also just finished up at the School of Rock in Cherry Hill with an 21 set Indie show (he was in 4 or the songs) that included songs by Sonic Youth, Husker Du, Violent Femmes and others.  And yes that is a drum stick he is raking across his brand new american made Fender Strat.  Check out this video of the last show (they did 2) it is long, but after they introduce all the kids they throw a aluminum trash can out towards the crowd and proceed to beat the hell out of it.  I cant believe my mother and Al sat through this whole show.  While on YouTube if you click on More from blr000007 you will see the other songs as well.  Enjoy.

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April 09, 2008
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I never thought I would see the day Bobby would stand between the pipes and try and stop that little 6oz piece of rubber.  I came home from work one day and he was in our family room with my goalie pads on his legs.  He said “they fit, I want to play hockey”.  At least I didn’t have to buy him all his own equipment, just hope we both don’t have a game on the same night.  He is playing High School (RV JVB) spring hockey as an 8th grader, and is doing well.  I took this picture of his first game, and have not taken any images since.  I have shot almost every one of his baseball, football  and just about everything else he has done for the last 13 years, and have missed actually seeing all of them.  When you shoot every single play you really don’t see the game, you only see bits and pieces of it, half the time I would ask the umpire standing next to me what the score was, I would have no idea.  I actually didn’t even bring my camera to his last game, that way there would not even be the temptation.  My camera is almost an addiction, it hard to leave the house without it.  I will probably shoot at least one or two more times this season, just to make sure I have the perfect shot of him.  

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