To Dad, truly one of a kind
April 28, 2015 3:00 AM
by Mark Mayer
I was debating whether to write about the Kentucky Derby since this is our special edition.
At the same time there is the long awaited Mayweather-Pacquiao megafight, the NFL Draft, Mets-Yankees recap along with the on-going NBA and NHL playoffs.
But they will “literally” be the supporting cast. My thoughts are with a man I am proud to call Dad, who won’t see any of these great events. He lived 90 wonderful years and provided so many memories to cherish as did Mom when she passed 32 years ago.
My dad took me to the old Madison Square Garden to see Bill Russell and Boston Celtics when the Knicks were brutal. Some 50 years later, they’re still brutal.
The first baseball game I saw with Dad was at Yankee Stadium against the Chicago White Sox. I remember Pete Ward with Chicago. Why Pete Ward sticks out, I have no idea.
We would see Knicks and Rangers games when the Garden relocated to Penn Station where Dad often rode the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) home from his job with Mobil Oil. He knew everyone at Mobil including the big bosses. And, they all knew him.
In fact, it seemed everyone knew him. Atlantic City comped my dad all the time, though he never told me how much money was spent. When we visited Vegas he snuck this underage kid into the casino at Caesars Palace to shake the hand of the great Joe Louis.
My dad loved boxing, the crap tables, the horses and people. He would sit in his lounge chair with some hand-held device that used to dope out the horses and trotters as to their probability of winning. We would watch the 11 p.m. weeknight harness show on WOR in New York that featured Stan Bergstein. When Stan and I wound up writing for GamingToday, it both pleased and surprised Dad to no end.
Dad couldn’t get enough of Las Vegas and gaming. He loved the casinos, was a once a year visitor, and constantly read about whatever was happening in the industry. He admired Steve Wynn and there’s no doubt in my mind the feeling would have been mutual.
My dad was a World War II vet and could never get enough of war movies. I remember he always watched “Battleground,” which starred Van Johnson, even if he did see it 100 times and claimed never to have remembered it.
My dad was also a champion bowler, once winning his section of the Metropolitan tourney in Manhattan and earning a trip to Cincinnati to compete in what was called the Hoinke Classic or something like that. He called the Olympic Bowling Center in Bayside, Queens home as did his brothers Harry and Lenny. The Olympic was below street level and had something like 12 lanes.
Dad was secretary of the best league at Olympic and allowed me to put together some of the stats. My passion for sports came from him and it will be my way of dealing with the greatest of losses.
I will follow all of this week’s big events with a betting interest, enjoyment and a means of escape. I know of no better way of handling life without the greatest father a son could ever have.
Dad just hated the very sight of entertainers and anyone for that matter with long hair and huge beards. He got so aggravated that I couldn’t stop laughing. I used to put on any TV show that had anyone with long hair and beards just to annoy him. And, it worked.
I think I’ll search YouTube and do it again for old time’s sake. I could use a good laugh.
Encore: To the novice horse bettor like myself, I give you this annual advice for the Kentucky Derby. With 20 horses in the field, many at long odds, bet all except the favorite. I normally do $4. Hey, a longshot could hit.
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at MarkMayer@GamingToday.com