As I believe I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am the youngest of 10 children. Of those 10, four of us are boys, now men who created spectacular memories while doing something that bonds many a man in other families as well: playing sports.
Growing up, each of us played youth baseball and basketball but time passed and then we came back down to earth, sure that no scouts were watching, we went on with our lives. Even so, there was one other sport that my three older brothers Owen, Kevin, Steve and I took a real liking too: two-hand touch football games.
These games, nicknamed the “Two-on Two Classic” by one of us, are some of my best memories of spending quality time and catching up with each other. Owen and Kevin were often home on winter break from college-Owen from the University of Oklahoma and Kevin from Notre Dame- so this was something that I really looked forward to year after year.
The teams as I remember them were Owen and I against Steve and Kevin year after year after year. Games were played all in good fun but we each still tried to do our best to provide a little spark and excitement to every game. Owen opened up a bit when I recently asked him to share his thoughts about these games.
“I recall making to sure to play, at least one of these games, usually under the lights”, said Owen, the oldest of the boys. “The best games were played with snow falling just because it looked so cool, and preferably with snow plowed up along the sides of the street. That made it a little bit like Arena(League) football-we’d occasionally get shoved into a snowbanks after making a catch.”
I don’t recall whose team had the better win/loss record by the time the Classic games had stopped being played but we always had a great time playing, laughing, enjoying the fact that we were once again able to see one another, if only for a few days.
While playing those games over the years was a blast, there was another thing that I loved doing with them and that was going to Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium, often on opening day to see either the Yanks or the Mets. One of the main reasons that I remember these games so well I was because, if the games didn’t fall on a (school) spring break date, I was allowed to miss one day of school The first game I can clearly recall seeing was my first Yankee opening day game at newer, redone Yankee Stadium. If memory serves me correctly, I think that we left for the game at around nine in the morning, allowing us to get down to whichever stadium we were going to early, early enough to see batting practice.
Watching player after player drill long shots into the left, center or right field stands was a treat within itself because these men were pros who made hitting a baseball look as easy as washing your hands. Unreal!
Though all ten of us kids were fortunate to have plenty of other good times doing things together, it was these memories, though vague, of enjoying sports I have always loved in a couple of different ways with three guys that I’ll always love.