The Super Bowl was a great game in all aspects. The Sports Books dodged a bullet when Pittsburgh scored late, as the money line is always heavily played in the game. If you teased the game it was impossible to lose. How strong is that?
"Say it isn’t so, Joe." Words once uttered by a youngster who read that Shoeless Joe Jackson was in on a World Series fix in the early 1900s. His utter disappointment and mine with author Joe Torre have a distinct parallel.
It was only a few years ago that I deemed Joe the classiest person in baseball. Both his feelings and mine were shattered by the behavior by a former hero in our hearts. To take shots at peers and ex-employers appeared to be below the dignity of Torre. Did Joe do it for money?
Sales of his recent book, "The Yankee Years," will surely soar. Joe, those Yankee years made you not only a rich man, but made you an icon in the baseball world. You blew it, Joe, and have disillusioned many baseball fans in this country.
In an ironic twist, you’ve turned me as an ex-Yankee hater to becoming sympathetic to their cause, and an ex-Dodger lover to wishing only the worst for your current ball club. Joe, it is so! Where does it all end? The next thing we’ll perhaps encounter may be Santa Claus allegedly whipping his reindeer.
Moving closer to home, it’s the passing of an era for me, with my love and marriage to a sport which I have participated in for 60 plus years. I’ve finally decided to let this significant part of my life go. The mind is still willing, but the body fails to cooperate on the field.
As a kid in Long Beach, New York I was called a field rat, as opposed to the more common gym rat. Few days went by when the weather stopped me from playing on an asphalt field at Central School. In the Army I played for Fort Jackson, South Carolina, until I got orders to go to Korea. Even there I was assigned to Special Services, and organized leagues on a huge patch of dirt known as "the field."
While living in California for nine years I played at Balboa Park in Van Nuys every Sunday. I always brought my kids with me and after each game I treated them to breakfast at Bob’s Big Boy. Their French toast was our family favorite.
Finally, in 1975 my mentor, Bill Dark, who owned a sports book in North Las Vegas, brought me to play with his team, the Del Mar. To this day I’ve retained friendships from those early Vegas days. My sons Mike, Jeff and Kevin were at one time or other bat boys for this team as was Pete White’s boy, Kenny, who you may know now as the line maker for the Nevada sports books. Roxy Roxborough was a player on that team, and perhaps was the inspiration for Kenny’s future.
For years I played at least once a week at Lorenzi Park, and was fortunate enough to play on some national caliber teams, with the likes of Cooper, Sully, Billy B, Peter, Luke, Joe Rowan and many more super guys as well as exceptional players.
In about 2001 we moved to southeastern Vegas, and it took me at least a year to find a group that I could play with on my off days while working at the Rampart. I finally bumped into Arthur and his co-hort Shelly, who were accommodating enough to allow me to participate.
I’ve made great friends in the past seven years, as the players fortunately accepted me. I can’t finish this article without thanking them all, such as Donnie, Teddy Baseball (currently the only undefeated pitcher I know), Janis, Roe, Phil, Patty, Mike, Dave, Joel, Tony, Andy, Spence, Henry, Greg and John, our new leader as well as several music men such as LaMont, Robert, Harry, Bubba and many others too numerous to name.
Thank you all for making my last stop a great experience. A special thanks to the Henderson Parks and Recreation Department for making it all possible for us. Remember, softball is not as big as life, it’s bigger!
Have a great week!