Father’s Day Special: Memories of My Dad

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MARLBORO, NY – Today is the day where we honor good ol’ dad across our nation in celebrating Father’s Day. There’s a great emptiness personally from losing my dad in 1984 to a massive heart attack at the young age of forty-eight. As usual, it’s a slow sports Sunday during this time of year, so today’s post will focus on the man who raised me for the first sixteen years of my life.

Joseph Perlongo was not a talkative type, but when he did speak his children had better take credence or else the retribution would be stiff in the form of a swat delivered by a George Foreman-sized meat hook. One thing this man loved talking about was sports and the newspaper was opened from the sports section on out. Baseball was a passion of his and was passed down to me, my brother and sister as the three of us held some type of ball as soon as we had the coordination to grip one.

Sure, the sports seasons changed with the weather but baseball was never out of season in our house. Growing up in the Inwood section of Manhattan, our apartment had an unusually long hallway, so long in fact, we often had short toss with a baseball when it rained or during those winter months when his kids were jonesing to play ball. This time of year was also the time to break in a new glove  – and was a skill I won’t soon forget. The new leather equipment would be rubbed down with glove oil, a ball placed in the pocket, and wrapped with twine of some sort and was wedged between a very heavy dresser and the wall. The hardest part was leaving the glove alone for the duration of winter as I would undoubtedly pester him to check the progress of the mitt.

All three of his offspring rarely failed when it came to baseball/softball, based on the repetitious practice he subjected us. Dad always had time for baseball. We would perfect our swing and batting stance in the house and take to the field with what he preached. A stickler for detail related to the American pastime made him a bit of a baseball professor of sorts. Not just knowing the game but a knowledge of the names of DiMaggio, Mantle, and Mays was also just as important to his teachings.

Attending our Little League or High School games was his hobby, and if his work schedule conflicted with such he would simply call in sick just to watch us perform. This wasn’t lost on his kids, because we weren’t exactly rich and only had necessities and no luxuries. Our victories were his as well, just as a tough loss presented the opportunity for a life lesson. Like I said, he was a man of few words so the wisdom was often profound. He molded us into good athletes with a joy for competition. There is little doubt that my brother could have played pro ball in some capacity.

I certainly could have followed but my baseball life died when my father passed away. Baseball is and always will be about fathers and sons. I was robbed of any chance at treating him to a beer and box seats to a Yankees or Mets game. Just the two of us. That bothers me to this day and I just can’t get over it. So, when I watch Field of Dreams and Kevin Costner’s character asks his dad if he wants to have a catch, it just hits my heart like no other movie moment. What I wouldn’t do to have one more catch with my dad.

Happy Father’s Day to all and those in heaven as well!

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About the Author ()

A man amongst men. Cheesy Bruin kicked cancer to the curb - twice. The Cheese Man's a big, tough teddy-bear who survived the Bronx despite being an unabashed Boston Bruins fan and Sargent-At-Arms for Angry Ward's Urban Spur Posse. Nuff said. Doctors have taken most of this throat and had to make him a new tongue from thigh-meat (his own) and still he won't shut up about the Bruins, Cowboys, Pirates and Cleveland Cavaliers. And yes, his kids do love him.

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