Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

On this Father's Day I'd like to take a moment to thank my own Dad...

When I came home from 2nd grade with a flyer for a local hockey league begging to play, he let my brothers and I give it a shot.  That developed into well over a decade of sacrificed weekends, 5am ice time in non-heated arenas, and a whole lot of time and money invested, as anyone with a child who plays ice hockey can attest.  Never once do I recall he or my Mom complaining about any of it. 

It wasn't just my youth league games though, my parents encouraged my passion in so many ways.  I was a loyal member of the Junior Whalers club, and I can still remember driving to Hartford once a year to meet all the players and get autographs.  We'd watch as many games as we could get on cable TV at home (with Rick Peckham and Gerry Cheevers calling the action!), and once or twice a season I'd get to see the team in live action at the Hartford Civic Center.  My youngest brother even got to skate as a goaltender during one of those quick kid league games they play during intermission, and I recall seeing some of the all-time best play up close and in person (Gretzky and Brett Hull stick out in particular).

As a kid I also got to attend summer camp and get advice from real, live NHL players like Doug Roberts.  These experiences were only made possible by my parents, and I will forever be grateful for that.

I even had a chance to meet and get an autograph from Gordie Howe once at a card show with my Dad.  I want to say it was a show being held at a local high school the same weekend as our youth hockey league post-season awards ceremony, but my memory is a little foggy there.  Nevertheless, I got to meet arguably the greatest player in the history of the game, and I shook his hand thanks to my Dad.  Still have the autographed puck.

My Dad has always encouraged my collecting, in fact it was the packs of 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee hockey that he'd pick up on his way home from work and surprise my brothers and I with that planted the seed in me for a hobby that I still enjoy to this day.  I can still recall sitting around the kitchen table, ripping packs and trading with my brothers, sorting them into my cheap 3-ring binder my Dad had brought home from work, by team rather than by card number.  In fact I still have that original binder, with those original cards in it to this day.

My Dad was with me the day I got my very first truly vintage card as well, a 1950 Bowman Maurice McDermott picked up at an antiques store in Putnam, CT.  The amusement that it refers to him as a "stringbean" on the back is something that I've always remembered for some odd reason.

Even now, as an adult, my Dad still supports my hobbies and interests.  He's a regular reader of this blog for starters, and this past year for Christmas he even made me a custom baseball card!

In the past couple of years, my Dad has even passed down to me the majority of his sports card collection.  Some of it I've passed along to others to enjoy (you can only have so many unopened boxes of '90-91 Pro Set around before your wife starts making comments).  Other stuff, like this awesome Dad's Cookies (tell me that's not a fitting card for today) Ed Giacomin, I will cherish in my collection forever.

I have many more great cards like this one that I've inherited from him, and I plan to do a better job about posting some of them in the near future.  In the meantime, what I cherish most are the memories of growing up and the collecting experiences as a kid, with my Dad, that fueled a fire that still burns in me to this day.

Were it not for my Dad, I wouldn't have ever played hockey, come to love sports, and I would probably be a totally different person than I am today.  Well, I'm pretty glad that things broke the way they did!

Dad, thanks for all of your dedication and sacrifice over the years.  I don't always get a chance to say it, but I really appreciate all you've done for me in helping me become the man that I am today.  I look forward to many more years of reminiscing about obscure hockey players, and talking about the Patriots games on Sunday.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!


Alan said...

What are you talking about, I don't read your blog.

Thanks, Shane...


Anonymous said...

Hahahaha best comment ever!

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