One thing I learned growing up was that I had a strong support system in my family and was very fortunate to grow up in a loving home with mom and dad and my two sisters. I was kind of a loner type but I did have a very stable and nurturing upbringing and was a very happy child. I got along well with my sisters Kathy and Joannie and was very close to my mom. We had a special bond and I remember as a young boy being encouraged and learning through her devotion and dedication. She would always make sure I did my homework and that I understood it. My mom had a lot of patience and she was very dedicated to my sisters and I. My dad was a very proud ironworker and he was very dedicated to his work and his family too. I always looked up to my dad as he had a quiet determination and was a very humble man. I learned both respect and humility from my parents and the importance of trying my best no matter what the circumstances. I was a very shy kid and found it hard to express myself and I would withdraw from social situations a lot because I just did not feel comfortable. I was driven though in things that interested me. I remember when I was 7 years old I really never participated in activities outside of school and I felt lonely at times. I was interested in baseball and remember like it was yesterday watching Met games with my Mom as she was a very loyal Met fan and she passed her love of the team down to me. She felt betrayed when the Brooklyn Dodgers left to play on the west coast in 1957 like most Brooklyn Dodger fans did.
She would tell me how her love of baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers evolved. She and her dad would go to Ebbits field to catch a few games during the summer and she always enjoyed the crowd, watching her favorite team and being with her dad. She related how special those few games a year meant to her and she always cherished them.
My mom was the second oldest of 5 children with 3 girls and 2 boys. Her parents emmigrated from Ireland after having married there and moving shortly thereafter to Brooklyn, New York with plans of starting a new life together and raising a family. Within a short time after moving here her father opened an Irish pub and worked very long hours to support his wife and growing family.
Now getting back to baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers my mom told me that her dad would like to catch a Brooklyn Dodger game on occasion during the baseball season as a break from his exhausting work schedule and when she was a young girl they would go and enjoy a nice day at the ballpark. She said it was an amazing experience being at Ebbits field and getting caught up in the excitement.
My mom did mention though after the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to LA that for 5 years she had lost interest in baseball until the whimsical Mets appeared to fill the void. She was hooked from the start and I was destined to be a Met fan since birth according to my mom. I remember watching my first Met game on a black and white tv in our living room in Brooklyn New York in the summer of 1968. I was a fan of baseball too and remember having catches with my dad on our block. I could not get enough of throwing and catching and I was pretty adept at it. I remember a family relative of our neighbor who coached little league saw me throwing with my dad and called me over after we had finished and asked me if I was interested in playing in little league and I said yes, of couse I am! He saw in me the skill and talent and he took an interest in me and encouraged me to play. I am very grateful to him because it was his encouragement and interest in me that gave me the confidence to try out and successfully make the team. It was a love from day one as I just felt so natural playing the game and it allowed me the opportunity to make friends and develop and be a kid and have fun. I remember my mom and dad would come see me play and I was so proud when I played and made the catch to record the out or hit the ball and safely get to 1st base. In my first year I was rewarded by my coach for being the most improved player in 1970 and that was a proud achievement for me and it still is as I have that trophy proudly displayed on my mantle along with our team’s 1st place trophy. It’s those seemingly simple things that stay with us for a lifetime. I remember when I was in kindergarten I was so afraid to be called on or to have to talk as I preferred just to be left alone. I remember my teachers, Mrs. Blackbear and Ms. Rubin took an interest in me and worked on helping me open up and helped me with my reading and math and with the combined efforts of them and my mom I was able to excel in school and learned from an early age to try to do my best. It is these things I learned as a small boy from my parents and teachers that I try to instill in my son and I can relate to him in so many ways as I was very sensitive and shy which I feel are similar attributes in autistic children, especially my son.