As long as ‘New York’ was on uniform, dad and I cheered them

As long as ‘New York’ was on uniform, dad and I cheered them

Maybe it was my father who was the outlier, though I couldn’t know it at the time. For around the first 15 years of my existence, I didn’t know from intramural rivalry as it applied to New York City. If you had that name on your jersey, sweater or tank top, that was good enough for him.

This day stands out today as clearly as if it happened 15 minutes ago: Nov. 22, 1981. Sunday was a pretty easy ritual in my house, week after week after week: 11:15 Mass, breakfast at the Lantern Diner, home by 1, and seven straight hours of football.

The Giants played the Eagles in the one o’clock game, and it was 10-10 after three quarters. The Giants were 5-6, of course, because they’d spent the previous 18 years out of the playoffs. The Eagles were defending NFC champions. My father — who played trumpet on weekends, with all the attendant late hours that side gig entailed — was settling in for his Sunday nap.

“Wake me for the second quarter of the Jets game,” he said.

But a funny thing happened: Joe Danelo kicked a field goal, putting the Giants up early in the fourth quarter. That kept my dad’s eyes open. Then Terry Jackson (when’s the last time you pondered that name, Giants fans?) picked off Ron Jaworski and ran it back for a touchdown. You could feel the silence at Veterans Stadium through the TV.

And Dad jumped out of his seat: “THIS IS THE YEAR!” he yelled.

And then he settled back in to close his eyes.

“Wake me at the half,” he said.

But I was a compassionate and thoughtful son, and the Jets were scuffling along in their own right at 6-4-1, playoff-free for the past 11 years, and the Dolphins took a 12-6 lead at the half, and it was still 12-6 after three quarters. He woke up with a harrumph: Same Old Jets. The teams exchanged field goals. It was 15-9 when the Jets got the ball back late in the game.

“Richard Todd will throw an interception here,” he said. “It’s a matter of when.”

But Todd never did throw that interception. In fact, with less than a minute to go, he found Jerome Barkum (when’s the last time you pondered that name, Jets fans?) in the end zone, the Jets were up 16-15, they won 16-15, and you could feel the stands at old Shea Stadium shake through the TV.

Another hop off the couch by the old man: “THIS IS THE YEAR!”

I figured this was how it was. This is what you did. We went to Mets games and Yankees games in the summer. We rooted for the Knicks and the Nets with equal fervor (until the turncoat Nets moved to Jersey, which might as well have been Wyoming to us). I remember feeling a little sad when the Rangers stunned the Islanders in the ’79 playoffs before dad reassured me, “Don’t you see? There was no way we could lose in that one!” and I felt better.

Alas, I was slowly leaving my father’s orbit. I was a high school freshman by now, and becoming friends with a bunch of kids equally obsessed by sports, but with one key difference: they had long before declared. And they looked at me like I had five eyes when I’d show up for school the way I did on Nov. 23, 1981, happy that both teams won.

It doesn’t work that way, they told me.

It’s never worked that way, they insisted.

Even their fathers didn’t believe me when I’d insist that back in the day, my dad had rooted for the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees. Honestly, I might’ve gotten less horrified looks if I’d told them, “My dad is a member of the Communist Party.”

“There’s no way that’s true!” one of the dads yelled at me.

But, as these things happen, eventually the friends won out. Eventually I had to declare (and declare I did — poorly, as history has proven, except for the Isles). In the same way rock and roll was invariably going to pull me away from the Sinatra I heard every day at home, so too was the peer pressure of sports too much to endure.

Years later, I called my father during the 2000 World Series and I asked him who he was rooting for. I already knew the answer but I wanted to hear him say it.

“New York,” he said. “So I’ve already won.”

Vac’s Whacks

Hard to pinpoint my favorite moment of the Dwight Howard Era with the Nets. I’ll have to get back to you on that.


By all accounts Theo Caviness did a most-impossible thing: He united The Post and the Daily News in the singular opinion that he was one of the best people to ever walk into either newsroom. Godspeed to him, and comforting thoughts to his family after his passing last week at age 42.


The NBA draft can best be summed up thusly: The thrill of victory. And the agony of Mikal Bridges’ mom.


Waiting for the next rainy day so I can dive head first into Season 2 of “Goliath” on Amazon.

Whack Back at Vac

Marc Aronin: About time the New York Islanders make hires that demand accountability, while doing its fans a solid and playing more true home games this year than originally planned. A great stretch for the Islanders.
Vac: I’ve always said: If I were an owner in any sport, I’d have Lou Lamoriello run my team. I’ve never felt more strongly about that.


Ron Goydic: Since the New York Wilpons (aka the Mets) are always shopping for retreads and garage sale prices (see Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista), do you think they may have an interest in Nick Swisher after his long home run at Yankees Old-Timers’ Day Sunday?
Vac: Interested? He’d be hitting cleanup by Wednesday.


@yankeechick78: Glad my manager cares about winning. ??
@MikeVacc: There are times Mets fans just have to sit still and take it. This is one of those times.


Ron Perri: Every time I hear that Cashman is looking to add a pitcher (i.e. 35 year old J.A. Happ), I get visions of Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano.
Vac: And yet Mets fans can take solace that sometimes Yankees fans feel exactly the same way they do.

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