As my aging body slowly stirred to life this morning, I was totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of birthday wishes on Facebook. Thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart for taking a moment out of your days to wish me well.
As it turns out, I have to work today, but all of you know, covering the Rock Cats beat isn't work. First off, it's baseball, and I cherish my relationships with the young men who play the games.
It's also being with dear friends like: keeper of the scoreboard Larry Michaels, the kindly yet indefatigable official scorer/former New Britain High wrestling coach Ed Smith; the always smiling and equally accommodating Dowling brothers Bill and Bob; "JD squared," those masters of the microphone Jeff Dooley and Joe D'Ambrosio; Luke Pawlak and Mike "Manny" Papazian, the extremely gifted guys running the technical operation; old friend and dedicated New Britain sportsman Mike Torres.
There are so many others who frequent New Britain Stadium for virtually every home game that are like family to me that listing everybody would only leave me open to forgetting somebody very important. Thank you, one and all.
But my life has had so many chapters and I have met so many unbelievable people along the way.
There's Belden Road, the cradle of my life, where such a stunning number of incredible people grew up together in middle-class splendor. Warm and wonderful Joy Bershtein, one of my dearest friends Dave Dippolino, his old BR next-door neighbor Johnny Spinato (you may know Johnny if you've had an adult beverage at Confetti, Route 10, Plainville).
There's Glens Falls, N.Y., the foothills of the Adirondacks, where baseball carried me for five wonderful years (1984-88), and where my only son Jason was born.
I've never been too terrific about communicating with my extended family -- I've heard the words "black sheep" muttered just within earshot many times in my teens and 20s -- but I have a special place in my heart for the Katzmans -- Bruce, Terry and Karen -- whom I unfortunately rarely get to see.
There are the people who once worked side-by-side with me but have moved on, like passionate family man Bobby Mayer and accomplished broadcaster Bill Schweitzer. How wonderful and typical that they took the time for a greeting.
And there are the youngsters who share the burden of putting out quality sports news every day at the Herald -- Executive Editor Brad Carroll; editor Matt Straub; Andrew Lovell.
Although I haven't heard from them yet, I want to acknowledge my two dearest buddies. Andy Vas -- Belden Road buddies for 55 years and still going strong. The miles can't keep us apart, you old fart. Ron Sambrook, the Godfather, Obbey Brother. Ain't nuthin better than a Grateful Dead concert and Obbey Ride to Cooperstown, or both at the same time.
Family comes first but I've saved the last for best. Lisa, the best wife a guy can have. Can you begin to imagine what she puts up with every day? And she got me the best birthday presents of all, autographed Gunsmoke photos.
Each and every one of you, and surely many more, have played a role in shaping my life. The one regret that life musters is that I can't have a Pepe's pizza, a platter of Jimmie's fried clams, a Glenwood hot dog, watch some great old movies or tip an adult beverage or two with y'all.
Thanks for the birthday wishes and please know that I love you all.