Usually, Father’s Day posts are reserved for the requisite, ‘remember-the-first-time-your-dad-took-you-to-a-game’ moment. I am going to break with tradition just a little bit here, but not without first briefly mentioning my ‘first game’ story. My dad took me (with entire family) to my first pro sports game in 1981 or 1982 (not sure) to see the Red Sox vs. Royals at Fenway Park. Third baseline. Pre-game warmups. Willie Wilson with big smiles flipping balls into stands for fans. George Brett and Jim Rice, two current hall of famers, having a pre-game chat less than 100 feet away. Those two could flat out rake huh. How freakin’ great was that day!? Rhetorical question there.
Those are some of my memories. Oh, and eating cotton candy like it was my job and taking home a Red Sox mini-bat (that was eventually used to whack blues and stripers on many subsequent fishing trips). Looking back in hindsight, I’m sure it was a huge pain in the ass for my parents that day to drag three kids to a ballgame; but I’m ever grateful and appreciative. Thanks for molding me into a Red Sox fan dad. I truly appreciated the ensuing 20+ year of agony (especially 1986).
The proverbial tables were somewhat turned in November of 2010, when I had the opportunity to take my old man to his first pro hockey game at the Coliseum. Also in attendance was another father , my brother, with his wife and their two sons, also going to their first pro hockey game. DiPietro posted a shutout and the Isles scored a couple goals to beat New Jersey and snap that nasty losing streak that pretty must destroyed the ’10-’11 season. That day was about more than the win though. It was moreso about the means to that end. Our means, as a family, and being all together as fathers and sons.
Leading up to the game, we had an exceptional Thanksgiving holiday with people traveling to NY from all parts and the Friday matinee was the culmination of a pretty successful family gathering. On the whole, limited aggravation.
Being seafood freaks and food snobs, we did our pre-game at Bigelow’s New England Fried Clams in Rockville Centre. Great fried, whole belly Ipswich style clams. Father and sons know how to eat. The day could have ended right there and we would have been content.
Game was great. We sat 9 rows behind Hedberg. Jesse Joensuu scored right in front of us. Smiles and high fives aplenty, nephews loved it, and most importantly, it provided a few hours of spending carefree time with some good family. If I’m not mistaken, we also went on the ice after the game so the kids to take shots on net on the Coliseum ice. One of the best day-game traditions in the NHL. Not sure other teams do this regularly and it’s a huge reason I like this team.
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure to take all the important ‘dads’ in my life to the Coliseum. I can’t remember a bad time.
Lastly, I’m a dad too. My first Isles game at the Coliseum was with my son when he was almost two. Another DiPi shutout against NJ a few years ago. Great times. Sat on the glass as I snagged a cheap last minute ticket. Then and there, I made a promise to myself and my kids . . . and probably my dad too in an unmindful and subconscious type of way . . . that I would carry on the tradition and make sports a touchstone for us to find common ground, connect, and re-connect. So far so good.
Happy Father’s Day.