Friday, July 26, 2019

WRESTLING'S SOUTHLAND: A LEGACY OF LOVE


Ray Southland stood at the head of the class.

When I was assigned to cover high school wrestling back in 1992, all I knew was the orchestrated, pre-ordained legacy of what is known as the professional version of the sport.  I attended a high school that didn't even offer wrestling as a varsity sport.  Only hockey was spoken during the winter season in Hamden.

So when I was gently pushed toward wrestling in 1991-92, my facial expression must have screamed to the close-knit community that I didn't know the difference between a fireman's carry and a single-leg takedown.

Ray Southland was among a group of officials whose incredible passion for the sport propelled him well beyond his appointed duties.  I had many questions.  Ray offered all the answers, not only efficiently in basic terms but with his love for the sport sparkling in his smile.  Ray's sincerity, thoughtfulness and his profound love for the young athletes were so fluent, leaving no doubt in my mind that his broader mission was softening life's difficulties for all he knew.

Working with officials like Ray was a tremendous asset for a reporter looking for angles that superseded victory and defeat.  Extrapolating their perception of the teams and individuals they scrutinized and the gnawing issues wrestling faced facilitated my ability to write more insightful pieces that transcended championships.

Among the ways Ray stamped his outgoing, candid personality on an issue was discussing the difficult calls he sometimes had to make.  When calls would affect the outcome of bouts and matches, he was forthcoming in discussing it with me, fully knowing that he could be laying himself open for controversy if I wrote the issue up a certain way.

Wrestling, perhaps more than less grueling scholastic competitions, served as an excellent foundation for the lives of former competitors now spreading the gospel that Ray helped lay out.  I saw a comment from former Southington All-Stater Zach Bylykbashi that echoes my feelings.  Bylykbashi said he was always uplifted when he saw that Ray was going to officiate his matches because he respected his competence and understanding.

I regrettably never had an opportunity to know Ray beyond the wresting arena, but I can discern exactly how he approached his work as a secondary school teacher and administrator.  Those who had the chance to work with Ray at Washington Middle School in Meriden will continue to benefit from his style, his demeanor and his unbridled passion for improving life around him.  His words of guidance came directly from his heart, depositing a sparkle in his eyes that conveyed righteousness, integrity and authenticity, intermingling as part of the legacy he leaves behind.




Wednesday, June 26, 2019

HUSKIES, YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE LEFT

I've been reading about the conference changes in UConn athletics with great interest and I thought I'd offer my taxpayer's portion of the millions we must cough up to support the transfer from the American Athletic Conference to the Big East.

Generally I believe the move is good for UConn and the fan base.  The contrived inanity of former football coach Bob Diaco's ConFLiCT is stirring testimony that rivalries with other AAC teams just lacked the luster to stimulate football and basketball fans into opening their wallets, although losing records don't help either.

The notion of Division I football was a complete travesty right from the start.

With all due respect to head coach Randy Edsall, the idea that the 2011 Fiesta Bowl that through sheer luck and administrative lunacy pitted UConn against Oklahoma was as rare a commodity as a snowstorm in Satan's kitchen.  How in heaven's name was the Big East champion presented a slot opposite a Big 12 team in a bowl game?  The whole system is so driven by money and is so lacking in what college football fans deserved to see that I wonder if somebody -- anybody -- found that match-up compelling.

Oh, but it stirred the juices in UConn faithful that football could follow the route that Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun forged on the basketball court.  Geno won it all!  Jim won it all!  Randy can do it, too?  Poor fellow had no chance, although I certainly can't blame him or his successors for giving it that old college try.

To become an Oklahoma, a school must have a decent percentage of in-state scholastic players talented enough to make up the team's core.  Trust me as a longtime scholastic football reporter in Connecticut; that was not going to happen here.  I can count on my hands and feet the number of top-flight Division I prospects I saw play over my 28-year career.  I can count on one hand how many of them opted to play for UConn.  UConn was never going to be an Oklahoma, no matter how many times Geno may have thrashed their women's hoop team.

But the cockeyed optimists who made the decisions couldn't be told that.  Hence, we built Rentschler Field, which has hosted more empty seats than the factories that produce them.  Meanwhile, the Huskies were whiffing on the likes of Aaron Hernandez, the Reed brothers David and Jordan, and Tyler Matakevich of St. Joseph (Trumbull) now the Steelers.

UConn football was fun to watch in the old Yankee Conference.  It was fine in the Big East, as it was.  But delusions of grandeur after that Fiesta Bowl will now cost the beleaguered taxpayers a massive AAC exit fee and an entry fee for a league to which UConn could have still belonged.  And what of UConn football as an independent?  Do you think Notre Dame is interested in paying a visit to The Rent?

When you tag the costs of change to the $40 million athletic deficit and the rest of the financial problems Connecticut faces, we're in a mess even bigger than a 5 p.m. drive through the I-84 Mixmaster.  The extra $15 million or so that this move will cost won't help our tax dollars fix the state's transportation infrastructure.  It won't appease corporations from fleeing for the bright lights of Boston.  It just gets added into a deficit column that compounds the erroneous judgment that makes Connecticut a great place not to retire.

With all that negativity out in the open, I see a glistening future for basketball, particularly the women's program.  Thanks to Geno, Chris Dailey and assists from their magnificent array of alumnae, the Huskies have overcome the lack of competition in the AAC to remain the finest program in the nation.  Given their brilliant scheming to shore up last year's lack of depth, the excellence will continue.  The common-sense based strategy fomented by Auriemma and Friends is as refreshing as it is effective.

I don't foresee the same future for the men.  Coach Dan Hurley's sideline antics are far too over-the-top for my tastes and I don't see him being competitive for the elite high school players, no matter what The Hartford Courant chooses to project.  I see the athletes that Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida, Gonzaga, Villanova and now AAC foe Memphis vie for and their names don't seem show up when they post their college lists.

As my astute friend and founder of UConn Daily John Silver capably debates, the Huskies don't loom as one-and-done proponents but can still hold their own.  After all, he says, they've won four national championships.

Can they do it again?  Sure, anything is possible, but we'll have to see if Hurley can pass up the one-and-done talent level and coach the kids who hang around for two, three years to the top of the brackets.  There may be another Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier or Jalen Adams out there who slips through the cracks, but it took a Hall of Famer to find them, and he's at St. Joseph in West Hartford now.

But regardless of where the Huskies of the Hurley Era land, seeing Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall and St. John's back on the slate will be a nice lift.  Few will pine for Central Florida, South Florida, Tulsa, Tulane and East Carolina, although I must say it is going to be a treat to watch Memphis and the games with Cincinnati were always competitive.

It's also great that UConn games will remain available on what modernists call "linear TV" instead of this ESPN+ streaming folderol.  I'm not an advocate of New York City media entity SNY portraying UConn as its very own but at least I can still get it by using the television in my living room and not sending ESPN any money.  I would imagine the sweet SNY deal that UConn probably would have lost was more tantamount in returning Big East-ward than nostalgia.

The sports end of what's transpired suits me fine but as with the reconstruction of the XL Center and all the other million- and billion-dollar projects, I have one burning question: Can we afford it?


Friday, May 24, 2019

A Re-Introduction and Renewal

Life has changed significantly for me since I last posted a blog, as life is prone to do over 10 years.

A torn meniscus in my right knee and psoriatic arthritis effectively ended my days as a sports writer/reporter in the scholastic domain in January, 2018.  I was ready for it anyway having passed my 65th birthday and growing weary of contemporary journalistic principles.

Sports reporting today is rife with rumor-mongering, speculation and conjecture, a far cry from what enticed me to the medium as a child and student.  I was always anxious to research news-oriented stories and feature pieces on worthy scholastic athletes as a service to the reader.  Any speculation or opinion on my part was limited to columns with my photo on top, an indication that what was written below was not necessarily the opinion of my newspaper du jour.

For example, The Hartford Courant today (May 13, 2019) ran a story from The Washington Post that erstwhile Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving being reunited with Lebron James for the Los Angeles Lakers "could be on the table."

Sure it could be, but I wonder if that table has one, two or three legs because it sure doesn't come your way from the steady sphere of reality.  The writer indicated her source was an ESPN commentator speculating on his radio show.  Aha!  We know that this yap crap on radio, television and sprinkled liberally across the internet is essential to drawing clicks, page views or whatever it is that the media thrive upon today so they can mislead advertisers and retain their shrinking niche in American culture.

I see it ad nauseum in forums that once reported the truth and I don't have the slightest inclination to be any part of that.  Writers that can't match the tense of their verbs to their subjects go off on absurd tangents and bend their opinions to lure unsuspecting readers searching for positive reinforcement about their teams.  I've heard it referred to as "click bait" -- websites needing a reaffirmation of relevancy to lure in advertisers.  They'll mislead the reader in any way they can to get that page view.

Kyrie purportedly is joining the Lakers because he and Lebron were seen chatting with their lips shielded to prevent lip-readers from eavesdropping?  Surely they were talking about reuniting after their uneasy existence in Cleveland, right ESPN?  Hey, I think Kyrie could have just as easily been asking Lebron what he thought of the Peloponnesian Wars and their effect on modern-day Greece.

Greece, as in slippery slope?  Yeah, I'd apply that to the piece of dreck in The Courant.  If Kyrie should end up playing elsewhere or stay in Boston, does the Post and Courant have to print retractions?  Thankfully not because retractions would fill the space every day.

So, I've removed myself from the scene.  What little is available on scholastic sports no longer piques my interest.  My intense interest in minor league baseball for over 30 years left my consciousness when the Eastern League departed New Britain under venal circumstances.  What the hell is a Yard Goat anyway and what does it have to do with Hartford?  I have not even been to Dunkin' Donuts Park.

The downside of my reclusive mantra is that I had made some sincere friends and had the pleasure of entertaining discerning readers who must wonder what the heck happened to me.

Well, I've had about a year-and-a-half to contemplate where I'd like my life to go, and I know that writing should be a part of it.  Some small media outlets and internet concerns inquired about my availability but sheepishly asked if I'd be willing to write for free.  While money has never been a big issue with me, I'm heavily into respect.  Respect for a gift that God was good enough to grant me.  Respect for my opinions that are probably not shared by many but are nonetheless my intellectual property to project as I see fit.  If I'm going to write for free, I'm not going to conduct interviews and run up mileage on my 14-year-old Avalanche.  If my opinions send you scooting for the "ist" page (you know, sexist, misogynist, racist), too bad.

I cannot readily opine on scholastic sports or the minor leagues anymore since I'm removed from those realms.  I do enjoy my sports on television -- most notably basketball because I'm completely averse to what Major League Baseball has become.  I enjoy interjecting my opinions on related matters.

So is Kyrie going to the Lakers?  Is the sun going to be shining on my birthday in August?  What will swallow us first, the pathetic financial condition of our state or the hideous specter global warming that no amount of money or attention can alter?  Heck, I don't know.  Kyrie doesn't know.  ESPN doesn't know, and The Washington Post must have other assignments into which its sports reporters can delve.

I'm not going to offer the same unsubstantiated junk here, and whether or not people want to read it is up to them.  I'm just going to use this space to let off some steam, sports-related or otherwise, and those who wish to read along, you're welcome.  Those who don't like it, simply use your ESC key.

Friday, January 30, 2015

"BLOUNT-LY" SPEAKING, HYPE IS HORRIBLE


Aah, what a great time of the year it is!
To augment the joy we derive by straining our back muscles shoveling away a foot of “global warming,” we get to sit in front of the fireplace and read the latest Super Bowl hype. And you thought the expense of newsprint was one reason why everything is shifting toward digital. How can they fill column space with such drivel?
In its never-ending urgency to create the news instead of report on it, the media inflates (no, I won’t go there again) the saga surrounding LeGarrette Blount’s commentary about the Patriots’ defense not being immortal. It conjures up the notion of reporters scrambling to satisfy the concept that they even need to be on-site a week before this overblown affair.
But, the reporters are just doing what they have to do, and modern-day mainstream America has such an unquenchable thirst for soap-opera antics.
The Pats’ running back, who wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh, said the Patriots’ defense is not immortal. I’m neither an anatomist nor a pathologist but human beings, and thus the grouping of human beings, do not live forever. He stated the obvious. If that’s all there is to write about, leave the column space for something important, like some questions and answers about strategy.
Given the subject matter of Blount’s views on immortality, I can understand why his gregarious Seattle counterpart Marshawn Lynch lampoons the pregame falderal, although I wouldn’t condone his methods. What is there to say? Do we really need to know who Brady’s favorite actor is and what he eats for Christmas dinner?
I’m glad I don’t have to cover that junk. If I did, I’d become a gentleman farmer.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

MY LOVE IS STRONGER THAN MY FEAR OF DEATH

The tale of 2 men who lovingly touched so many lives

The obituary page in Wednesday's Hartford Courant told a sobering story of two men taken from us who did everything in their power to make life better in the greater Bristol area and beyond.

Francis W. Mullins, 89, and Theodore C. Scheidel, Jr., 69, have passed on and many people are so much the better having known them and benefitted from their munificence.

Fran Mullins served the American Legion baseball program in Connecticut for 60 years, but even moreso in Bristol and the surrounding area covered in Zone 1.  Teddy Scheidel, perhaps the most dedicated public servant I've ever seen grace a local stage, was Burlington's first selectman for 26 years.

The highlights of their stories confirm that they knew each other.  Mullins was the personification of the Legion program and all for which it stood having served as state tournament director and Zone 1 chairman. Among the many legacies Scheidel left us was a Legion team that he initiated in 1999 and lovingly helped administer until 2012.

I am so glad that I nominated Mullins for the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance in 2006.  I vividly recall the conversation I had with him when I told him that he would be receiving a John Wentworth Good Sport Award, emblematic of giving back to the community through sports.  

Phone calls generally drip with the commonplace, sometimes sad, but rarely do you get to make them to tell a worthy person that he or she is being honored.  The awestruck nature of Fran's response is the full reason behind why I treasure my work with the Alliance.  Rarely do you have such an opportunity to spread some joy in a person's life while reaping financial byproducts that help put aspiring sports journalists through college.

I knew Scheidel much better.  

When I first moved to the region in 1990 and was looking for work, I hooked on with The Bristol Press as a freelance writer.  Naturally, my goal was to become a sports writer but I welcomed the challenge put forth by suburban editor Linda Smith when she asked if I would cover the Town of Burlington.

I called Teddy's office to gain some background, made an appointment at the new Town Hall that he was so instrumental in building.  When I walked out, I had a new friend.  He always wanted to please people, an element so tragically diminishing as people move faster and faster through the pages of their lives.  

When I told him of my dedication to baseball, he told me that he was a diehard Dodger fan, dating back tothe days of his boyhood when the team was in Brooklyn.  He related a story of how his father took him to games and the thrill of rooting for Gil Hodges and Duke Snider.  I'm sure an L.A. Dodger cap is in the keepsakes he leaves behind.

His willingness to share his knowledge with a struggling reporter trying to make an impact in town affairs was remarkable.  Years later, he still remembered my name.  I recall his coming to a New Britain Rock Cats game, an encounter which enabled us to rekindle our friendship.

He spoke of days at his beloved Lake Waramaug with his dear friend Denise.  When he spoke of her, he reminded me so much of the "Moonlight" Graham character in "Field of Dreams" played so exquisitely by Burt Lancaster and the familiar way he referred to his wife. 

"I've got to be getting home. Alicia will think I have a girlfriend," he said with a wink and that broad Lancaster smile.

In that respect, Teddy's story all comes together.  The Legion ball team.  Nassahegan Athletic Fields.  A love of baseball.  A sincere familiarity in the way he shaped his words that made everybody feel like they were among his closest friends.

The way a man dies isn't nearly as important as the way he lived.  The emphasis in the lives of Fran Mullins and Ted Scheidel are reflected in what they gave to others, and no man could strive for a greater legacy.



Monday, July 22, 2013

GROWING WITH THE CHANGES

"Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights."


I actually saw this marvelous quote when I searched the internet for something that would define the last few years of my professional life.  Imagine my surprise when I found that this was the intellectual property of a friend -- Pauline R. Kezer -- tossed in among words of wisdom from people like Einstein, Churchill and Shakespeare.

Pauline was Secreatry of State from 1990-94.  I met her through her husband Ken, the former New Britain High baseball coach who became a friend during my 15-year tenure at the New Britain Herald.  That kind of brings the parameters of this blog full circle.

I've never responded well to change.  When I went from two pillows to one, I couldn't sleep.  When I went from Hellman's Mayonnaise to Miracle Whip, I could no longer eat tuna salad.  When I go from the comfortable confines of my Chevy Avalanche and to my wife's claustrophobic Honda to save money on gasoline, I wind up needing a chiropractic adjustment.

Man do I hate change, but when it comes to my professional career, the latest one has become a Godsend. I hope the CFO at my new newspaper, the Meriden Record-Journal, doesn't see this because he may want to reduce my salary, but I'm loving this.

I left the Herald in November, 2010 for a crack at running a weekly sports sections for the [Farmington] Valley Press/West Hartford Press.  I enjoyed the writing and the reporting.  The people of those towns reacted extremely well to my work.  But all that gets nullified when you have a nitpicking psychotic for a publisher who almost drove that baby into the ground.

By June, 2011, I was washing my hands of that awful experiment and began freelancing.  Freelancing is great if you're financially set and the opiate of seeing your name in print just refuses to ebb, but when you can use the cash and you have to keep searching for work, it's a tough racket.

I worked for some great papers, like the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald, the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram, the Union Leader in New Hampshire, to name a few.  I've worked for others who have taken their time about paying, which means I have to lean back on the days working at my parents' collection bureau to get the funds due me.

That's all gone now.  Employment at the MRJ is a blessing, and I'm trying my very best to churn out quality stories for my new readers.  The one overlap with my past is Southington, which in my opinion ranks among the top 10 sports towns in the state.  When it comes to the rest of the circulation area -- Meriden, Cheshire and Wallingford -- I'm a newcomer.  Being a native of nearby Hamden has helped with the transition.

Inevitably what makes or breaks a job experience are the people with whom you work, particularly those who make the decisions.  Personally, I've found it unsettling to be a boss in this business.  I'd prefer to concentrate on my own work and be a viable part of a dynamic team and that's what it's all about in Meriden.

The sports editor is Bryant Carpenter.  I've known Bryant for more than 10 years.  We crossed paths in the field when teams from our respective circulation areas clashed and we developed a mutual respect.  Working on the same team with him is a treat because of his deep respect for his colleagues and genuinely good- natured demeanor.

It sounds like a basic thing, but today's younger generation seems to rank power above people.  Working relationships are hard to foster when the person at the top is bent on reinforcing the hierarchy instead of focusing on the product.  Some power-mongers are subtle, others blatantly overbearing, but neither approach works well with me.  At MRJ, we're all working together and that means happy days for our readers.  I've been working in this business for more than 20 years and it's nice when somebody asks for my opinion or my help instead of playing dictator like the charlatan at my previous full-time stop.  I know it sounds ultra-corny but a happy employee is a productive employee.

The third member of our writing team is Sean Kroffsik and a nicer guy you'll never meet.  I've know Seanie for awhile and I've never heard him say a bad work about anybody, nor has anybody I know ever said a bad word about him.  I'd have to work awful hard at being nice to develop that kind of personality but it comes naturally for Sean.  Lord knows I've failed at it since I know of a few people who would gladly take away my second pillow and put Miracle Whip on my turkey sandwich if they had the chance.  And those are only the ones I know.

The two guys who work on the desk are George Dalek and Paul Rosano, and they're great guys, too.  They have to be to wade through my copy, eliminate some of the flowery adjectives and toss out the typos.  A tip of the chapeau to the talented guy I replaced, John Petit.  Filling John's shoes isn't easy because he's so talented and so passionate.

Folks who know me know I'm heavily into history.  Through five years at the Bristol Press and 15 at the Herald, put together volumes of copious notes on sports at the local schools.  When I went to the weeklies, I began accumulating information on Simsbury, Avon, Granby, Canton and West Hartford.  My time in West Hartford was particularly heartwarming.  I am missing my friends there and come the fall, I'm going to miss the awesome coaches at Conard, Hall and Northwest Catholic.

But as the old door closes, new ones open.  I get to work with some pretty great athletic directors and coaches at my new schools with whom I've made acquaintance.  It'll take some time to revise my history books but I'll get her done.

I hope y'all will stay with me for what I hope is the final chapter of my career.  I have a feeling we're going to enjoy some memorable times and I'd like you to be on board.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

NOSTALGIA IN THE OLD HOMETOWN

It’s Father’s Day and I’m trying to figure out why we get more nostalgic as time goes by.  Is it simply a consequence of chronology – we’re spending more and more time here so we leave more and more footprints?  Yet surely the majority of people think about nothing but the moment.
I raise my glass to my Facebook friends who lean toward the nostalgic, with special thanks to Mr. Hamden Plains, Ralph Santoro.  Ralph is one of those guys who I didn’t spend enough time with – he was chillin’ on Church Street while my boys and I were bombin’ around on Belden Road.
Ralphie was astute enough to get interested in photography and almost always had a camera slung over his shoulder when I’d run into him at those great places we went back in the 1970s.  Consequently, he snapped a few of me during a time when I wasn’t doing a heck of a lot of posing.  Photos of me in my 20s are pretty darned rare.
Through the miracle of Facebook, scanners and Ralph’s diligence, I was flipping through his collection of Hamden nostalgia and readily recognized so many of my old friends.  Most of them I haven’t seen in 20 to 30 years like that wild bunch of Spring Glen guys – the Lee brothers, the Boyle brothers.  Some of them I see from time to time, like Brooksvale Park caretaker and good buddy Vin Lavorgna and Billy Mezzano.
A few of the guys pictured are sadly gone at much too young an age.  Gary Conte, half-brother of one of my best friends Andy Vas, perished in a Long Island Sound boat mishap along with Paul Mangan, Billy Ford and Billy Collake on Memorial Day 1975.  That’s nearly 40 years ago, and their faces are etched in my mind.
Another wonderful guy – Joe Gambardella, brother of Andy and Leo – passed away within the year.  I spent many happy hours with the Gambardellas at their house that was demolished so Dunkin’ Donuts would have more parking spaces.  Ralph remembers.  So does my dear friend Sharon Davis, who married Andy G.  It pains me that I haven’t heard from Sharon in about 40 years, but shift happens.
Next Saturday (June 22), Hamden will be the scene of two nostalgic shindigs.  A group of guys led by Belden Road’s own Pete Sportino founded The Mighty Metropolis group of Facebook, which is now more than 1,700 members strong.  We had a get-together at Glenwood (best hot dogs on Planet Earth; where Hamdenites will always find an old friend) and now we’re re-convening at Brooksvale Park (10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) where Ranger Vinny certainly will be a gracious host.
The Hamden Plains Park Reunion is scheduled to take place at Outer Space, 295 Treadwell Street, Hamden from 4 to 7 p.m.  Live music will be provided by The Slides (original rock) and Broadway Hearts (piano-based rock).  I’d like to hit both but sometimes life intervenes.
Back to Ralphie’s photos … .  The old block on Dixwell Avenue where the Strand Theater once stood tugged at the heart strings.  I remember when sister Marji used to work there and we’d take in all the hits of the day – “Deliverance” and “The Poseidon Adventure” come to mind.  I can still smell that delectable combination of mildew blended with stale popcorn bathed in that exquisite drawn butter.  If Yankee Candle Company had that scent, I’d have to get a few.
He’s got photos of his mother Myra and the dance studio she ran on Church Street, including the newspaper clipping about Little Ralphie making his stage debut at Oakdale when he was 5.  That’s where he gets that dynamic stage presence he exhibits during his musical gigs. 
The photos from the Blizzard of ’78 were classic.  That’s when my Datsun got buried under a snow bank and I went without a vehicle for quite a spell. 
My old buddy Vinny “Bear” Pantera made sure I got to work at the Hamden Public Works Department every day.  Geez, I hope I thanked him enough.  Thought I saw Vinny one day a few years back when I was covering Rock Cats baseball, but it was his twin brother Mike.  That’s a mistake anybody can make.
Vinny played hockey for Hamden High during the years before Fairfield Prep made recruiting a priority.  I remember the twin rinks on Sherman Avenue hosting a team from Sweden and the place being packed.  Ah, the days when high school sports drew a crowd!  Vinny was a burly defensemen who patrolled a section of the ice where no West Haven forward would care to tread.
I can’t continue without paying homage to the Shultz clan.  Big Kirk and Little Richie, are the twins that look nothing alike.  Younger brother Scott yearned for the city life.  Youngest brother Bruce lives on a ranch in Montana. 
Middle brother Craig settled down in Hometown on followed in father Dutch’s footprints by pouring out his heart to youth sports, primarily girls basketball.  I remember when Craig took up lacrosse.  I wondered what the heck he would do that for.  Now, all these years later, I’ve covered my share of lacrosse and fully comprehend how he got attached to the sport.
Hey, I know I’ve missed a lot of good times and great people, particularly the great days when The Family – Ron Sambrook, Andy Vas, Johnny Coassin and Ray DeAngelis and I – were wandering Grateful Dead Heads.  The Great Bus Ride to see Jerry Garcia at Waterbury’s Palace Theater, courtesy of Ken Dubin, was a classic.  A longer one all the way to Norfolk, Va., courtesy of Lenny Young, was even crazier since it was something like 20 hours round trip. 

Thanks for letting me spout.  On this Father’s Day, I urge you to remember your families, remember your friends, remember those who have passed before us and do something nostalgic.