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Over 60...and Getting Younger: May 21, 2010

My Father’s Game

My father was born in Eastern Poland. He and his three brothers, Sheldon, Sol and Murray were all better than average soccer players. My father would drag my mother and me all over Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan to watch soccer games. Through all those years my mother never understood or appreciated the game.

As a boy, in my Bronx neighborhood only the foreign born boys played soccer. We played PAL baseball, 2-hand touch football and 3 on 3 or full court basketball. Soccer was not on the schedule.

When a European or Israeli soccer team came to New York, my father and uncles bought tickets. My father said, “Without a doubt this Hungarian team would popularize soccer in the United States.”

It never happened during his lifetime. With Pele and the New York Cosmos the game caught on a bit, but it was never destined to supplant the Mets, Yankees, Giants, Jets or the Knicks.

When I worked in Brickman’s Hotel as a bus boy, my father stayed at the hotel. I was playing in the afternoons with the college basketball guys from the south and west and holding my own. My father came to watch us and he was completely unimpressed. Basketball was not his game and when I tried extra hard to impress him, it did no good. A lost cause!

Later in life he became a Brooklyn Dodger fan. That was probably the most charismatic team in the history of baseball and he liked them a lot.

Watching wrestling was his favorite TV sport. He would sit in front of the television set and cheer for Argentino Rocca and all the other participants. He would move and squirm with them as they went into various wrestling strange holds.

The cycle was completed when I moved into Nassau County and became a soccer coach with the Hicksville-American team. My father was gone by then, but I would have given a lot to see him watch my two boys and my daughter playing. His six grandchildren are also playing my father’s game - the game he loved.

Memories and “what ifs” live on!