Memorable events from the past (in chronological order)
13) November 19, 1978— Eagles 19, Giants 17— Giants had game won, but QB’s didn’t take a knee back then; Giants’ QB Joe Pisarcik tries to hand off to Larry Csonka, but they fumble, and Herman Edwards picks up the ball, scores the winning TD in a game that propelled Philly into the playoffs for the first time since they won the NFL title in 1960.
— Dick Vermeil coached the Eagles then; they made the Super Bowl two years later- 19 years after that, he won the Super Bowl with the Rams.
— Herman Edwards became an NFL coach, a TV analyst, and now coaches Arizona State
— Coach of the Giants that day? John McVay, who is Sean McVay’s grandfather.
12) Not sure what year this was, but there used to be a semi-pro football team in Albany called the Metro Mallers; they played pretty good football, and played their home games at Bleecker Stadium in Albany. I did stats for them one season when I was in college.
But this was a year or two after I got out of college, so 1983 or 1984; we go to the game, my friend has a pass to get in but I don’t. I see the father of a friend of mine and ask him to get me in for free— he makes me a member of the chain gang for the game that night.
Don’t remember who the other team was, but they were from Massachusetts and had the same uniforms as the Dallas Cowboys and I’m on their sideline, with one end of the chains. There is a measurement, I jog out on the field and one of the Mallers’ linebackers, a guy I went to college with, says “What the hell are you doing here?” We both laughed.
In the third quarter of a close game, I’m standing next to the head coach; the guy has his play chart in his left hand, a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in his right. Semi-pro football at its best; the head coach is freakin’ drinking while he calls plays. Classic.
11) August 1984, Saratoga Racecourse— My cousin was dating this guy who knew a lot about the horses (they’ve been married for 33 years now), but back then I was stunned by how much he knew about horse racing. He was/is also a little…….excitable.
This one day, a horse named Seal Harbor wins and KL Wheat banks $3,800 in winnings; I was about ten feet behind him during the race— he was jumping up and down like a guy in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. It was better than watching the race.
Four years later, we’re at Belmont Park on Columbus Day and his friend Jim won $12,000 on one race. He was a lot calmer when he won. Couple of smart guys who saved me a ton of cash by showing me how much I didn’t know about the racing game.
10) January 1986, a very cold Sunday— Rams are playing the Bears in the NFC title game; it is 10-0 Chicago just before halftime, when Eric Dickerson runs the ball down to the Bears’ 3-yard line, but the Rams neglect to call timeout, and the half ends. I am not happy.
I’m watching this game in our big kitchen, with my dad and two friends, wearing a polo short and shorts, but I storm outside, where it is below zero, and sit on the hood of my car during halftime. I was so mad, it took me a few minutes to realize how damn cold it was.
Seems funny now, wasn’t so funny back then; Rams kick a FG there, and who knows what would’ve happened in the second half.
9) April/May 1987, Glens Falls, NY— Calder Cup playoff game; the AHL and the game goes multiple overtimes. Hershey Bears at Adirondack Red Wings; the game took so long, they ran out of food at the concession stands. In between overtime periods, Flyers’ GM Bobby Clarke goes to the Burger King up the road to get food for the press box.
When the Red Wings won the game at about 1am, losing goalie Ron Hextall , who wound up being really good for the Philadelphia Flyers, smashed his stick over the crossbar. Quite a night.
8) March 1990, Loyola Marymount 111, New Mexico State 92— 12 nights earlier, LMU star Hank Gathers collapsed and died on the court during the WCC tournament; on his first trip to the foul line in this game, LMU’s Bo Kimble shot his first foul shot left-handed in honor of his friend.
Game was tied at the half; Kimble had four fouls, but the Lions went nuts in the second half, then beat defending champ Michigan and Ball State, before losing to UNLV in the regional final.
7) September 2001— Mike Piazza’s home run at Shea Stadium, in the Mets’ first game back after 9/11; I’m not a Mets fan, but I live in New York and that home run made the TV camera shake, it was that emotional in the stadium. An unforgettable moment.
6) September 1, 2002— A’s 7, Twins 5— Miguel Tejada hits a walk-off homer for the A’s, their 18th straight win, and it is possible that I went out on the front lawn, laid on my back and did some bizarre dance that should’ve had me committed to an asylum. Every time I see Tejada’s homer in Moneyball, I have to laugh. My father just shook his head at me.
5) July 2003, Kissimmee, FL— I’m at the AAU Nationals at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, first time I had been there, and the first game we watched was 29-29 at halftime, a game with a team from Louisiana against a team from Detroit,
Kid named Glen Davis had 27 of Louisiana’s 29 points at the half, but he got tired in the second half and Detroit won. This was before Davis developed into a great player at LSU, and then played seven years in the NBA, for three teams.
There were six games going on at all times for 12 hours a day in The Milk House; went to that event for 3-4 years, a pretty good way to spend my vacation.
4) August 2008— I’m at Graney’s Bar in Albany, and the Olympics are on TV, along with baseball and live karaoke; Michael Phelps won a gold medal that night.
Back then, New Jersey Giants had training camp in Albany; after one of the waitresses sang karaoke, one of their front office people hands her his card and invites her to sing the national anthem at a Giants’ home game, she was that good a singer. Don’t think she ever did.
Graney’s is still there, on New Scotland Ave., an excellent place to eat and watch games.
3) January 2015— Klay Thompson scored 37 points against Sacramento…..in one quarter!!!!
The most amazing exhibition of shooting I’ve ever seen; he hardly dribbled, everything was catch-and-shoot. Simply incredible.
2) July 2015, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas— I’m in bleachers, sitting behind this couple that was watching their son’s team play. Midway in the first half, the coach’s phone buzzes loudly, and because it is AAU, he looks at the text, instead of ignoring it.
He looks back at the couple in front of me and says angrily: “If you text me again, I’ll NEVER put him in.” Such is the life of some AAU coaches.
1) April 2016, Westgate Superbook, Las Vegas— National title game with Villanova-North Carolina, I’m sitting next to a younger guy I don’t know who has Villanova and the under, and it felt like it was for a lot of money. He seemed very nervous.
Villanova is up 10 with about 5:00 to go but they blow the lead; Marcus Paige sticks a 3 to put Carolina ahead and the game over the total. My neighbor is distraught, but Kris Jenkins hits the game-winning 3-pointer to give Villanova the title and my neighbor a split of his bets.
I’ve never seen a guy so happy to break even.
Memorable events from the past (in chronological order)