Outside of fishing I am really only interested in a few sports. I received my first pair of hockey skates before I could walk, so hockey was number 1 for me for much of my youth (next to fishing, that is!). My dad played hockey as a kid and eventually on some local teams, and he was coach of many of my junior teams. All of my uncles also played hockey so on my dad’s side of things it really was a family affair. I spent many, many hours at the local rink or on a frozen pond in the winter, and I played alongside a good number of kids who eventually went on to play professionally. I was never even close to good enough to have much more than a child’s dream of skating in the NHL, but I loved the sport nonetheless. My two claims to hockey fame include being paired in one of my last high school games opposite a kid who was drafted the following year and getting knocked unconscious in a pick-up game at UMASS Amherst by a guy who I was told played on an IHL team at the time (He didn’t take too kindly to my attempts at slowing his breakaway with my stick and he told me rather emphatically with a swift, gloved shot to my face.). Nonetheless, to this day I still get excited when the first puck drop of the season approaches, and I will be a hardcore Bruins fan until the day I die.
At times when I was younger I was on the swim team, and I played golf for many years and really only stopped when it began to get in the way of my fishing time. I objectionably played soccer, but it was simply “too soft” for my liking and I spent more time getting yelled at for trying to turn it into a form of rugby than my coaches liked. Plus, all that running up and down the field was just not for me!
Once in high school, I continued playing soccer until a pre-season injury (fortunately) sidelined me, and it was suggested that I join the water polo team to assist in rehabbing my leg. I immediately took to the sport and thoroughly enjoyed it, even toying with a spot on a D1 college team before my preference to skipping class to go fishing resulted in poor enough grades to result in eventual expulsion (I was no model student!). I played a little lacrosse as many of my hockey friends played both sports, too.
My love of hockey fueled my eventual love for football when, in 1994, the league experienced a 100-plus-day lockout. Needing some sort of fall sport to watch on TV, and living in Massachusetts at the time, I began following the Patriots. This was the second year of Bledsoe’s career and also the very beginning of the “Kraft Era” in which we are still basking to this day. The Pat’s season ended in a wildcard playoff loss to the Belichick-led Browns; kind of fitting that the birth of my love for football also included this tidbit seeing as where the team is today.
Along the way, one sport that never really did much for me was baseball. Sure I played a little tee ball when I was 5 or 6 years old, but that was about it aside from amassing an enormous baseball card collection that is now doing little more than collecting dust in my attic. I jokingly say that if I am having a difficult time falling to sleep all I need to do it put a baseball game on the TV and I’ll be asleep before two pitches are made; I enjoy watching baseball that much.
So with this general disinterest in baseball, I still look forward to games being on the radio and very few night drives to my local surf fishing spot fail to include at least a few minutes of a ball game on the radio. Most of the time I would be hard-pressed to relay a score or even the teams battling it out, but to have the general sounds of the game playing as background noise as I drive a moonlit beach in my truck near perfectly put me in the mood to make some casts. I doubt that any time soon I’ll take much interest in a sport that includes 162 games in their regular season (Talk about watering down the importance of any one game!), but my fall fishing is not complete unless I hear the crack of the bat and cheer of the crowd when the current steroid-induced hero of the diamond pops another ball over the fences.
Oh yeah, and as a true Masshole at heart, I must throw in in at least one “Yankees suck!” here for good measure—I know enough about baseball to know that fact will never change!