Another Fourth of July has passed and I continue to take pride in being an American. My grandparents left Ireland approximately four score and five years ago (score equals 20 years) in the hopes of a better life. My paternal grandfather use to say “what a great country, they even have ice cream on a stick.” Like other Americans, he loved sports especially boxing and baseball. He did not have much money, but I did inherit his love of sports. I have seen or have listened to my share of games, highlights etc. Some of these games have more meaning either because of national or personal patriotic reasons.
A Happy Monday!
Mondays are not easy to wake up for me you and anyone else. I begin my work Mondays with a sarcastic Happy Monday with anyone who still plays along. Back on April 25, 1976, Rick Monday, a nineteen-year baseball veteran and six year Marine Reserve, became a national figure. While playing for the Chicago Cubs, Monday witnessed a father and son run on to Dodgers Stadium’s field and attempt to burn an American flag. Monday grabbed the flag and was given a standing ovation from the Los Angeles Dodgers crowd his next at-bat. After the season, Monday was traded from the Cubs to the Dodgers in exchange for Bill Bucker. Rick Monday still has the flag at home to this day.
I have seen the lion’s share of Jets games where I would chant J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS! I was there in 1992 when I saw my favorite player become paralyzed during a game and I did see him walk on the same field less than a year later. I was at the game which was voted as the of the best Monday Night Football games ever played where the Jets comeback from a 31-7 deficit to the Dolphins to win 41-38 in overtime. On October 2, 2001, I went to the Jets first game since the disaster only a few weeks before. The Jets lost the game itself 19-17, I do not remember too well even though I was the designated driver. I do remember receiving an American flag that I kept until I gave it to a friend upon moving back to NY from Denver in 2005. The other thing I will never forget are the chills down my back from yelling the U-S-A, U-S-A chant.
An American Beauty
An American Beauty is the name of a cocktail with Brandy, Vermouth, Port, Grenadine, and Orange Juice; it was also the name of a 1999 movie with Kevin Spacey and Mena Suvari. Another type of American Beauty was the United States entry for the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The mix included some (Mia) Hamm, a little Lilly (Kristen that is) and of course Brandi (Chastain). Mia Hamm was one of the best and well-known players on the team. In 275 games for the National team, she scored 158 goals. During the World Cup, the American team went up against Team China in the finals on July 10. There were 90,000 spectators at the event (the largest crowd for a woman’s sport in US history) and countless numbers watching on television. The game was tied at regulation and the game would be decided by penalty kicks. Brandi Chastain who scored only 30 goals in 192 US National team games became the hero of the day when she scored the decisive goal. My cousin and her daughter (yes on the paternal side) watched the game and her daughter have been influenced to where she plays soccer to this day. Some can argue there has never been any other single event that has come close where American woman have shown so much patriotism for there sisters.
A Slice of Piazza to Go
On September 21, 2001, a friend of mine who is a NYC cop was celebrating his birthday working and I watched the Mets game. This was the first sporting event played in New York City since the terrorist attacks some ten days earlier. The site of the game was Shea Stadium. In the days after the attacks, Shea’s parking lot became a staging area for the relief effort at Ground Zero. Mets manager Bobby Valentine led his some of his team and others in preparing supplies for the workers like my brother. I may not have been one of the 41,235 people who attended the game, but I watched on television. The Mets, whose players wore hats reflecting different city agencies, were trailing 2-1 to the Atlanta Braves in the 8th inning. Mike Piazza came to bat and hit a two home run homerun that not only lifted his team to victory it lifted the spirits of many New Yorkers like me.
The Ice Men Cometh
I do not have many memories of my early school days. One thing I do remember is praying for the release of the American hostages in Iran. The 444 days where the hostages were taken were a definite low point in American history. You can see it in pop culture and the pump. Charlie Daniels wrote a song In America, which begins with “Well the eagles been flying slow and the flag’s been flying low”. The gas shortage plus inflation drove the price of gas to over $1.00 per gallon for the first time, only four years prior the gas prices were only $.60. During the winter of 1980, only a few months after the hostages were taken the 1980 Winter Olympics began in Lake Placid, New York. The US hockey team pulled off a miracle. The US hockey team was the one of the biggest underdogs in modern let alone historic times. They were playing the dominating team from the Soviet Union. A week before the Olympics Games began; the two teams played an exhibition game where the USSR won in a laugher 10-3. In addition, the USSR’s team played a year earlier against the All-Stars of the National Hockey LEAGUE and beat the All-Stars 6-0. As with most of the games in the tournament, the US fell behind. I watched the live on tape game like other Americans several hours after the game was played. (Imagine that, a game was watched by an American audience on tape delay where other than the players and the witnesses mostly no one else knew the score.) I do remember the U-S-A, U-S-A chant, which was the first event countrywide where the chant was featured. I also do remember the American flags in the audience. There flags were not the same handheld ones like I would be given some twenty-one years later, rather they were the size of the flags you see in front of schools or houses. When the US team won that game 4-3 because of the game winning goal by Mike Eruzione, we Americans started to feel better then they had previously. The US team would go on to play Finland and won that game which gave them the Gold Medal. (Sorry boys and girls, the game against the Soviets was not for the gold).
I may not be a member of the NRA and I never have hugged a tree in one of the many national parks I have been to, but I love this country. I know I am fortunate to express my thoughts in a forum such as this. If my grandparents would have stay in Ireland who knows what my destiny would have been. On that note, I need to edit and publish this blog so I can see where my destiny takes me after I enjoy a little ice cream on a stick.
Sports in the USA
Posted on: July 7, 2008 1:44 pm