WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NY – Losing a loved one is never pleasant. Losing someone that had a joy for life and was serious about having fun, makes it more difficult. But those kinds of people would be ticked if we didn’t remember them and smile… After reading Mike Vaccaro’s piece about Donald Fuzzy Cohen, the passing of Uncle Frankie Hess hit home – and it’s a good bet Uncle Frankie would wave a finger in our faces if we remembered him with anything but a smile.
Sam Hess, aka Sam’s-A-Fan and a few other (often esoteric) aliases, has been with us from Day One, which was before cell phones, ink and steam – or so it seems. He is like family. So when he lost his Uncle Frankie this week, we felt it. From the outside looking in, Uncle Frankie is – not was – one of those people you kick yourself in the can for not having met. That’s the feeling here, at least. But judge for yourself. Here are Sam’s own words, taken from our comment section. They give us glimpse of what kind of person we lost this week.
“Reading this while I enjoy a burger and a pint at Coogan’s, while the Docs over at Columbia Presbyterian do their best to try and keep my Uncle Frankie alive. I don’t mean to be maudlin and since this is V-Day and this is the love crowd (nod to Otis Redding) let me talk about the good stuff.
My dad’s family, emigrated from Germany in 1939 to escape Donald Drumpf’s cousins and ended up in Washington Heights and NY Giants fans, the latter thanks in large part to the wonderful Irish cop, Officer O’Shaughnessy, who would let four refugee boys sneak into the bleachers after the third inning. My dad, the oldest of the four, would eventually become a Met fan. Uncle Karl doesn’t care so much whose playing, as long as it’s a good game and everyone gives 100%. But Uncle Peter and Uncle Frankie remained true to the Giants, despite their abandonment. Uncle Frankie would fondly regale me of his memories of racing a rookie Willie Mays up the endless steps to Overlook Avenue when the Say Hey Kid had had his fill of signing autographs (only after having already signing dozens), for the eager kids. Willie would only sign the few additional for whichever neighborhood kids could beat him up the steps. No one ever did. A few years back we spread Uncle Peter’s ashes up at the housing projects where the Polo Grounds once stood, and the sad truth is that in the near future we will be doing the same for Uncle Frank. But Uncle Frank loved his Giants, loved the Heights and loved Coogan’s (even though the burger at Piper’s Kilt is much better).
If Uncle Frank meets Horace Stoneham in the next life, I know he will give him a pass. He and Uncle Peter will continue to pull for their Giants and I imagine drink many a pint with Officer O’Shaughnessy, wonderful human beings all.
P. S. Big thanks to @Angry_Ward for single-handedly keeping Coogan’s alive recently, so I could have this beer and reflect on my roots as one of my favorite people in the world plays out his 9th inning… Love to all.”
“So, I was at Coogan’s again tonight (last night, I guess), but this time saying farewell to my beloved Uncle Frankie, who I guess decided he didn’t want to live in a world where Rae Carruth ever gets to breathe free air again (is that *[bunk] tile for real?!). Frankie passed at about 9:00 last night which in the end was a merciful blessing. We knew it was coming and with the help of the amazing team at Columbia Presbyterian CCU, we made sure he went with as much dignity as you could hope for and with as little pain as possible. On the latter point, he was so heavily sedated that I don’t know if he could take it in, but before he passed I played for him (2X) a YouTube clip of The Shot Heard Round the World with the immortal radio call of Russ Hodges: “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” I hope he heard it.
Oh, one more thing… for any of you who should find yourself at Coogan’s again in the near future, Co-owner Dave Horn made me promise that I would give him one of my uncle’s ridiculous hats (a sort of calling card that Frankie was known for at all the community board meetings and political functions that were so much a part of his life) to be displayed in a place of honor for posterity. So [Angry] Ward, Cheesy [Bruin], Matts Short & Tall, and my Lord and Savior Yim, blessed be his bar tab; next time your hoisting one at Coogan’s, have just one with my Uncle Frank, it would mean a lot to me!”
Save us a good seat, Uncle Frankie.
That’s all for today, come back tomorrow for another Super Fan/Super Person, @JunoirBlaber. You can also find us on Twitter @MeetTheMatts and @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram at @meetthematts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.
P.s… *[Bunk] tile explanation: