Monday, December 29, 2008

There was clown paint all over the walls

There are many things I love about being a season ticket holder for the Giants. The seat location is high on the list. We are three rows off the field in the west end zone. This is the end zone where the players enter and exit, and is always to the left when you watch a game on television. We are in section 140, row 3, seats 1-4. I've sat in seat 4 for as long as I can remember. To give a little more perspective, a field goal would have to be very wide left to end up in my lap.

The location pays dividends in certain situations. The ultimate is a goal line stand by the defense (best ever was the playoff game against the Bears in 1990) or a touchdown play that ends in our corner (Dominik Hixson's kick return against the Pats in 2007 was as good as any).

However, there are less obvious benefits to the seat location. One involves the opposing team and the welcoming nature of people from the New York City area. The defensive and offensive lines warm up right in front of us. This is especially fun when the Eagles come to down. I remember the days of Reggie White and Jerome Brown. Fans would yell pleasant words of encouragement and Brown would respond with gentle finger gestures and adjustments to his two favorite glands. The best reception I ever witnessed for a player was for a kicker of all people. Bill Gramatica was kicking for the Arizona Cardinals a few years back. Mid way through the first quarter, he kicked an easy 35 yard field goal through the uprights. This was a simple field goal, during a regular season game in the first quarter. Nothing to get too excited about, one would think. However, Mr. Gramatica has a ritual of leaping into the air and pumping his fist after every made field goal, as if he just won the World Cup. You would expect to hear that crazy soccer announcer yelling, "GGGOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLL!!!!" On this occasion, old Bill missed the landing. As his leg came down, his knee buckled, blowing out his ACL and ending his season. The worst was yet to come for old Bill. He was forced to ride off the field in a golf cart right past our corner of the end zone. I can not repeat what was said to him as the cart scooted by at 5mph. Let's just say, it was the definition of a Bronx cheer.

Along with the other team, we often have celebrities milling about before the game. There are plenty of sports reporters from TV and radio ready to throw a microphone into the face of anyone of modest celebrity. On one occasion, Paul Tagliabue, then Commissioner of the NFL, was standing directly in front of our section speaking to Joe Montana, who had recently retired. For those who do not know, Tagliabue is from Jersey City, the town a couple of streets from where my parents grew up. He attended high school with my Mother at St. Michael's. My Father was with me at this game. As only my Father can, he drifted down to the rail, right above Tagliabue's head and shouted, "Hey Paul, St. Michael's, Class of '58!" Tagliabue looked up at the face and gave a somewhat awkward wave. Maybe it would have had more impact if my Mom was there?

Let me move on to my favorite benefit to our seats. It's that they are OUR SEATS! Nothing is better then when you arrive at a game and fans (usually from the other team) are in our seats before the game trying to get a glimpse of their favorite players. It is the best feeling to whip out your ticket stub to validate your rightful place and watch them walk away in shame. This was never more fun then a game against Dallas in the early '90's. We arrived at the seats (I believe my friend Tim was with me and maybe my brother-in-law Clarence) to find they were occupied by a pair of extremely obnoxious Cowboys fans (I know that statement is redundant). They took fanaticism to a new level by painting their faces with Cowboy colors and the infamous star. We performed the usual ritual, but they did not initially respond. I became a bit more forceful regarding our claim to the seats. One of the morons told me to take a hike and that these were their seats. Before things became too heated, I asked him to show me their stub. When he reluctantly did, I noticed they were sitting in the wrong section. They were to be in 139. This left them slightly embarrassed, as they skulked off to their appropriate seats.

I thought the story would end there, but Cowboy fans are not known for their intelligence. Sometime in the middle of the first quarter, I heard a raucous to my left in section 139. Fights in the stands are a common occurrence and help keep you entertained during those long TV timeouts. This one was particularly entertaining, as it involved my two friends from earlier in the day. I do not know what started it. Maybe they projected the same attitude with their new neighbors, as they had with me. However, this time they were not offending a skinny pacifist from Maryland. It was the Incredible Hulk! This was the largest man I have ever seen! He was holding one of the Boys fans in his one hand and pummeling in the face with his other. Cowboy paint was flying all over the neighboring fans! I believe the other fellow was already lying in the fetal position on the ground praying for help from Jerry Jones. Within a few seconds, security ascended on the melee. In true New York fashion, they separated the combatants and ushered away the two Cowboy fans. The Hulk was allowed to stay in his seat and enjoy the game in peace. Ah, justice.

Pop's Last Game

I have to give huge thanks to Frank for his poignancy in his blog. It stirred in me some memories of the last game the 4 of us went to.

Some or most of you know that I am a Vikings fan. My brother's were gracious in 1998 and the "unstoppable" Vikings lost to the Falcons and I remember Pop telling tales of the disappointment he had with the Giants over the years from when he first got the tickets to their first playoff appearance in 1984. 1984 was the first year the Giants made the playoffs in my life.

As I look back over the years I think of the stories I heard about my father and his almost maniacal love for the G-Men. I have heard the story about him being so pissed at half-time of a Giants game that he threw a coffee table out the window, only for them to come back and win. I remember as a kid growing up, very young, where if the Giants lost there was more than a little electrical tension in the house until about Monday afternoon or sometimes Tuesday.

But by the time I started going to the games, I remember a different Dad. I remember someone who was more knowledgeable and logical about his perceptions of the Giants and football than any person I have ever met or any broadcaster I have ever heard. The conversations we would have on the way to games about Giants' tendencies and strengths and weaknesses and how that would match up with the prospective opponent. I learned a lot about how to be a fan. I learned that respect for your opponent is key. I learned that frickin' anything can happen... especially with the Giants. I learned the value of joy with trepidation. I learned that there is a sublime joy in rooting for a team that wins it all and how much sweeter it is when they are beating a team that no one thought they could.

I remember the quiet confidence of my Dad on rare occasions where he would just have a vibe and say "They are going to win today." Never from the point of view of an overzealous fan or someone who loves blindly. Sometimes he just knew. This diatribe leads me to my memories of that fateful day in January 2001 when the Giants completely obliterated my beloved Vikings.

There wasn't a whole lot of mystery in the outcome of this game. The Giants came out and scored on a long tochdown pass on the first or second play from scrimmage and the game was over. Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper folded up like lawn chairs and the Giants just kept pouring it on. As I sat and watched, never getting out of my seat, just sitting there in my Vikings hat, I watched my Father and brothers celebrate play after play. I felt more embarrassment than bitterness. The Giants were better and were showing it. Frank and Pete never rubbed it in my face or anything. For some reason our sibling rivalry never really manifested itself in that way. Then, after maybe the third or fourth touchdown in the first half I look over and see the three of them screaming like they were on fire and I am just sitting there watching them. My father turns his head and I see he is crying. Our eyes meet and he grabs me and pulls me to my feet. I ask why he is crying, thinking the answer is obvious. He looks at me and says, "I feel so bad enjoying this so much, but at your expense." I blushed and told him to relax and have a good time. I wasn't taking their joy personally. The rest of the game is kind of a blur.

As I sit here and type this I think about that moment and perhaps I am putting grandiose overtones on that moment because I want them to be there. That is easy to do when we lose people. We want them to seem bigger and more epic in their absence and sometimes we lose perspective on the reality of who they truly were. I don't think that is the case with what I am about to say.

Our father had passion. Of that I do not believe anyone could deny. In his youth, or his youth as it is represented to me, it was volatile and scary sometimes, but it never lacked. As he got older he seemed to gain persepctive. Maybe it was his becoming a more religious man and using that to soothe his soul. Maybe it was just age and looking at his life and finding that there was more to feel joy about than anger. Maybe it was looking at his family and feeling pretty good about the job he did raising his children and enjoying his grandchildren. I think it was all of that. But the thing I take out of this singular experience is this. At that game I witnessed in its naked and personal best, the selflessness my father had developed over the course of his life. The moment of one of his most personally enjoyed triumphs that he could enjoy with Frank and Pete he had a hard time doing it. He was worried about how I would feel and if I was ok while they were celebrating.

People say sports don't matter in the big picture and intense enjoyment of sports and games we have no control over is just silly and we are trying to hold on to our own glory days or lapses in who we are and putting the onus of our shortcomings on the teams we love. I don't believe that. I believe that finding joy, true sublime joy, like my father and brothers felt that day is worth it. My father taught me that. And to be selfless and try and soothe your youngest son when you are at your highest point was a lesson I am happy to have learned, be it at a football game or anywhere else.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dad's Last Games

It was January of 2001. The Giants just finished the 2000 NFL season as the number one seed with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This was only the second time the Giants accomplished this feat in the Super Bowl era. The last time was the historic Super Bowl XXI Championship team of 1986. I was a sophomore in college in 1986 and was half the Giants fan I was in 2000. It's amazing how much more you get into the games when you are paying for the tickets!

The season had promise in the beginning, but doubt crept in after two losses dropped the team to 7-4. The media was having a field day in New York, as they always love to poor gasoline on any fire. Jim Fassel, the Head Coach, issued a provocative guarantee that the Giants would make the playoffs. The team responded with 5 straight wins and the #1 seed for the NFC.

I had been to several playoffs games in the past, but never two in the same post season. In 1986, my father kept only two tickets for each playoff game (still not sure how that happened???). My brother Pete and I went to the game against the 49ers, while Steve and Dad went to the Championship Game against the Redskins (see Steve's Blog entry for details on that experience). In January 2001, the four of us shared the experience of both the divisional game against the Eagles and the Championship Game against Minnesota. It would turn out to be the last two games our Father would ever attend.

The Philly game was amazing. I have never experienced such energy in a crowd of people. I am certain a large contributor to the energy was fueled by the intense rivalry between the Giants and Eagles. There are many Giants fans that consider a successful season when the Giants beat the Eagles twice, no matter what happens in the other 14 games. On this day, January 7, 2001, the stadium nearly crumbled to the ground from the thunderous cheering that started with the first play. This was a game that was over as soon as it started. The Giants won the coin toss and elected to receive. The opening kick-off was fielded by Ron Dixon on the 3-yard line. With a burst of speed, a few key blocks and some sweet moves, Dixon was rumbling in open field right toward us in the end zone. I have never experienced anything in live sports as exhilarating, before or since. After that start, the Eagles did not stand a chance. The other highlight of the game was the most spectacular athletic play I've ever witnessed in any sport. Jason Sehorn made a lunging interception, did a quick somersault, regained his feet and ran 32 yards for a touchdown. The final score was 20-10, but the game was never close.

I don't recall much from a personal side in that game. Maybe it is because I remember far more from the next game.

The following week, January 14, the Giants played the Minnesota Vikings for the right to go to Super Bowl XXXV. This was a rooting dilemma for my brother Steve, as he is a Vikings fan before a Giants fan. I am sure he will comment on this with his own Blog entry. The game was an absolute blowout, 41-0. In some ways, I think this made it easier for Steve. No tension when your team is getting it's ass kicked!

On the personal side, I recall a couple of interactions and occurrences from the day. It started out with a pre-game tailgate with my college buddies, Kevin, Tim and Rich. Kevin is as devoted a Giants fan as I have ever known. There is no one on this earth (since Dad past) that I can talk Giants with in more detail and perspective than Kevin (sorry Pete and Steve). Tim is a Giants fan convert from Baltimore who turned to the dark side when the Ravens came to town. Rich is a Jets season ticket holder. Enough said. My friends have always enjoyed coming to Giants games with me, my Dad and my brothers. From early on, Tim always took an interest in my Father's perspective on the team and players. They would talk in detail about draft picks and free agents. Before the Ravens, Tim was a season ticket holder for the Giants during a season when we had an extra seat. During the pre-game conversation on this day, I proclaimed to my father that he should have no worries for this game. I explained that I believed Kerry Collins would have the game of his life because of the porous Vikings secondary. I even labeled the game as "Mr. Collin's Opus", in an attempt to be clever. Dad always enjoyed the perspective of his sons, especially when they worked in the title of one of his favorite movies. By the way, Collins threw for 381 yards and 5 touchdowns. Sometimes, I get it right!

As I stated, the game was a blowout. With a 34-0 lead at halftime, I told my Dad I was going to visit my friends. They told me their section, which I recall as somewhere in the 300's, two levels above our seats in the opposite corner of the end zone. I made my way to the upper level, someplace I had never visited before this day. You rarely spend your time in the nose bleeds when your seats are three rows off the field!

When I reached the section, I had trouble finding my friends. As I searched, I noticed something odd in one of the seats. There was a gorgeous bouquet of flowers with a sign attached. It was obviously a memorial to a Giants season ticket holder who recently passed away. I was very moved by the sight and stood there for several minutes reflecting. I came to the realization that my brothers and I would someday perform a similar tribute for our father when his time comes. At the time, I assumed it was years away, as my Father was only 59 at the time. Little did I know that my Father would never attend another Giants game. He passed away from a heart attack 7 months and 12 days later. He was only 60.

Four months after the game, my brother Pete ordered an authentic Giants jersey to present to my Dad on his 60th birthday, April 30, 2001. The jersey was awesome. It was embroidered with the number 60 (marking his age) and our last name. Dad loved it. I never recall him wearing a Giants jersey, so I assume it was the only one he ever owned. Unfortunately, he never wore it to a game. As a tribute to him, his love of the Giants, and his love of his family, the jersey has been worn to every game attended by a Marchesani since his death. My brothers and I have pledged to make sure the jersey is at every game one of us attends. It will be worn by generations of Marchesani's for as long as it lasts.

My brother Pete and I believe the jersey holds some magic. This was reinforced last year, when Pete wore it as he watched every playoff game during the Giants 2007 run to the Super Bowl. When Pete arrived at my house on Super Sunday, he asked me to wear the jersey in a selfless act of brotherhood. We sat and watched that incredible game against the Patriots in the basement of my home with a picture of Dad over the TV and Steve on the speaker phone.

To some it may seem odd or sad to have such a strong connection to my Father through something like football tickets. To me, it's rarely been about the tickets. Its the time spent together and the memories made. Does a Father and Son relationship need much more then that?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

January 11, 1987 My Best Giants Day

This was probably one of the longest, yet best weekends of my life. It started early Saturday morning. I was playing high school basketball at the time. Pete and Frank had been to the divisional game the weekend before as we had 2 tickets for each playoff game. My Dad and I had the NFC Championship game. As most of you know, I am a Vikings fan first and foremost. But whenever I get a chance to go see Big Blue I take it and enjoy it immensely. It alleviates the frustration of being a Vikings fan. But I digress.

So, I have a game Saturday afternoon in Cumberland, Maryland. For those who don't know the logistics, Cumberland is the land of flannel and mullets. Dental hygiene is worse than in a British taffy factory. The wind through the mountains sound oddly like banjos and you can hear a sound like Ned Beatty squealing at every turn. Scary place. The distance was like 1 more left turn and you are in Sasketchewan. Well, the only way for me to get to go to the Giants game was for my Pop to follow the team bus in his Chevy Spectrum and pray he doesn't get stuck in the snow. A Spectrum is not exactly a high performance vehicle. So, we go to my game, we lose.

Now, to this point there has already been 4 hours of driving just to get to Cumberland. Cumberland is West... New Jersey is East. After the game, we hop in the car and have to drive 8 hours roughly to my grandmother's through bad weather and some snow and ice. Not all of you who read this will know how my father drives or have seen the movie The Big Bus. My father drives like a character in the movie called "Shoulders" because he can't resist driving on the shoulders. It is harrowing to say the least and occasionally heart stoppingly terrifying. Also, no comments can be made as to the ability of my father to drive. He could be a tad terse if it were mentioned. So, 8 hours of fairly tense silence unless you count the movement of my lips in prayer as a sound.

We get to New Jersey at about 1am. My father and I were exhausted and a little bitter. We smelled like a herd of yak and looked like the floor of a cab. If you remember Grandma's apartment you know that the ceiling was measured to exactly 1/4" more than my height. That didn't matter to Grandma because she was 2 foot 6. But for me, I never took off a shirt in that place and came away uninjured. And the fold out couch was just glorious. I still have a welt in my back from the bar across the middle of that damn mattress. So, between the drive, the tension, the mattress and the Marchesani snoring symphony I was about as uncomfortable as a Klansmen at an Obama rally.

So, we wake up the next day, we hang out with Grandma and George and the wonderful, but more than slightly odd crazy cat lady Kathy who lived across the street from Grandma. At 16 one of the worst places you can be is hanging with your Grandma, bizarro uncle, crazy cat lady and your father. That ranks up there with sitting next to Sister Karen on a long road trip on the team bus for basketball. (Been there too)

Ultimately, Pop and I pack up some serious dagwood sandwiches we made from cold cuts from Schiavicchio Bros. deli and a few drinks and head to Giants Stadium. Now we must discuss the weather...

Ok, in Cumberland, MD we drove through some snow and some cold. It was January in the mountains, no big shock there. When we go out to the car to drive to the stadium the next morning it was cold. About 18 degrees. But in Union City there wasn't a lot of wind. So, we head out listening to the Giants pre-game and feeling the anticipation build. We are passing cars of bare chested morons with face paint screaming like little girls, but for once I didn't think they were idiots. The Giants had gone a LONG time without winning much at all, let alone a championship, and an opportunity like this can bring out the crazies. Besides, I was wrapped up in so many layers that I could have taken a bullet and it never would have reached my skin so the barechestedness just made me feel cold. Pop was equally Michelinized. He had on his Army coat and his Army scarf as always. And those butt ass ugly yellowish insulated pants. What was the deal with those... better than the ZuBaz he wore though... But I digress again.

We get to the stadium about an hour and a half before gametime and park near the Brendan Byrne Arena as usual. The sky is thick with clouds and the wind is just whipping us like we stole from the poor box in church. It is so loud that we can't even talk to each other and every time we smile or open our mouths it feels like someone has put ice cubes on the nerves in our teeth. We walk to the stadium occasionally screaming something along with the other rabid fans.

We get inside and walk down to our seats and the place is packed and louder than a Metallica concert. The wind is howling and I am watching the Resdskins warm up and the ball is doing U-turns on every pass and punt and no one can catch a thing. As we sit in our seats we look and see the opposite tunnel is lit because they have the outside doors open. Dad looks at me and says, "home field advantage" and smiles.

All of his old cronies are there. Vinnie, Gene, John, and the crew that are on all sides. I feel oddly out of place. Like I haven't paid my dues to be there for this. I watch them all shift 20 years younger as they smile and scream and hug each other. It was amazing to behold and something that I will never get to experience. It was then that I realized that I don't have any friends from when I was much younger that I could share something like that with. I had more than a touch of envy. At the same time, it was awesome to behold.

So many things have happened since that day that changed us, but on that day, we were happy and young and there was nothing but optimism.

The game starts and the crowd is going absolutely nuts. Harry Carson was the lone captain during the coin flip while there were like 37 Redskins up there. The announcer says the temperature with wind chill was negative 18 degrees. There is paper swirling around the stadium like $100 bills in one of those cash wind tunnels on a game show. Not a person I saw felt cold or uncomfortable. We all just stayed completely engorssed in the experience and the feeling of raw electricty in the air. I don't remember a single person sharing any doubts.

The Giants elected to kick and the Skins on their first posession sent Gary Clark down the sideline away from us and he was wide open. A perfect pass by Schroeder right in his hands and they have a touchdown and steal the momentum from us and it becomes cold and windy again. But not today. For some reason, he just misses it. Right through his hands. Maybe it was the wind gusting changing the ball flight, maybe he lost concentration, maybe it was the hand of God that said, "This team has been through enough and it is there time." All I know is that he dropped it. And I was reminded that a week earlier Jerry Rice is running free and open and that same hand pokes the ball out and the Giants recover and steamroll the 49ers and Joe Montana along with them. It just felt meant to be and we were all witness to what was already predetermined to happen. I really don't remember much about that game after that. The Giants won fairly easily as the Skins never scored. Everyone screamed and had fun and was just on such a high it was amazing. The trash was swirling and growing and the noise in the crowd building. It is all a blur in my head. They won and Pop celebrated with his friends and I celebrated with them and the stadium didn't begin to empty for a good 40 minutes afterwards. As cold as it was... nobody cared.

We walked back to our car and on the way home we ate at Mom's in Edison. That was the only time I remember eating there with Pop alone. Our hair was like a rat's nest and our faces were windburend and our chapped lips burned with every drop of tomato sauce we ate. It was a damn fine meal.

Tickets: $130
Parking: $10
17 hours in a car and 650 miles: $70

Finding out what it is like to see what your father was like as a kid: Priceless

When people ask me why I am such a sports fan and why I spend money and invest time in it, I think back to this game and my father and pure sublime joy and I smile. I know they won't understand and I know I can't explain it to them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1964 - The saga begins...

I started this blog because I needed an outlet for saying goodbye to a place I will miss dearly, Giants Stadium. I encourage any who read to chime in with their own stories of their times at the Stadium. It is a beautiful venue that is being brought down well before it's time. I will start at the beginning, when my father first obtained season tickets. This dates back well before Giants Stadium, but is the set up for all to follow. Enjoy and contribute...

The year was 1964. I only know the story from my father telling me many years ago. He passed away in 2001, so I can not go back to him to verify my memory of the account. Therefore, I will embellish to fill in the blanks.

My father grew up just outside of Manhattan in scenic Union City, NJ. He was an avid sports fan, as were most boys growing up near New York in the 1950's. How could you not be with Willie, Mickey and the Duke across the river. He was the second son of Italian immigrant parents. His father was not much of a team sports fan. The only sport to his interest was boxing. My grandfather, whom I am partially named after (Francesco Rocco Marchesani), made his living as a bartender. The one he was working at when this story takes place is called Longchamps. It does not exist anymore, so I can only imagine that in it's prime, the establishment was frequented by many sports fans. This becomes significant as our story unfolds. My father's first love was baseball. Along with his love for baseball, he became a huge fan of the New York Football Giants. Again, this was an easy thing to do at that time, as they were one of the premiere franchises of the NFL. I do not know how many games my father attended as a non-season ticket holder, so I am not sure how exactly he became interested in season tickets. I do know that the opportunity to obtain them came through my grandfather.

This is my vision of what happened. I only recall some of the major facts. The rest is pure speculation. Here goes...

Apparently, the challenge behind obtaining season tickets at that time was access to the season ticket application. In today's world, this would never be an issue, as everyone have access to everything, provided you have enough money to pay for it. Up until that time, the Giants did not issue season tickets for every seat in Yankee Stadium. They held onto "obstructed view" seats until the day of the game and sold them at the ticket office. I assume the demand for these seats became so overwhelming, the Giants decided to offer these as season tickets too. One day, some man walks into the bar where my grandfather is working. I always pictured someone from the Giants from office who was having a hard day. Maybe he just found out his wife is seeing some other guy. Who knows. I just assumed it was a guy having a bad day, who was cheered up by the friendly barkeep with the hard Italian accent. I see my grandfather mixing one of his best drinks and chatting with this fellow. After a few drinks, the man's spirits are a bit lifted, mostly because of the pleasant disposition of the man behind the bar. In return for helping to lift his mood, the guy offers my grandfather an application for Giants season tickets. I picture this almost like the Golden Ticket in Willy Wonka, accept that my immigrant grandfather has no idea what this guy is giving him. In fact, I see my grandfather a little annoyed that no cash tip was left for him, but he decides to take the worthless paper home anyway. Mainly because he noticed the Giants logo on the paper and recalls his 23 year old son, Peter, chatting incessantly about this team at the dinner table.

Upon returning home, Frank (this is the American version of his name) finds Peter half asleep in his bedroom after a long day at work. He greets his son with a loving smile and tosses the paper gently in his direction. Peter stirs and asks, "What's this pop?" "I dunno." answers Frank. "Some sciocco left me this for a tip today." Peter opens the paper and immediately sits up when he sees the Giants logo in the upper right hand corner. "Pop! Do you know what this is?" Peter exclaims. "Whaddaya askin' a me for? I justa said, I hava no idea." (This is a sad attempt at my grandfather' broken English. If you have ever seen the movie Moonstruck, think of the guy who played Cher's grandfather without the beard). Peter leaps to his feet and hugs his father. "This is the happiest day of my life! I can't wait to tell the guys!"

The next day at work, Peter begins to complete the application. I can't imagine it is as complicated as the current PSL application sitting on my desk. But that is something to comment on later. When Peter gets to the section regarding "number of seats" he is perplexed at what to do. Initially, he thinks, "two seats". The assumption being, why be greedy? However, his friend Tony (OK, this name is made up, but you can not have a story about Italian Americans in the 1950's, living near New York without a momo named Tony involved) looks over his should and notices the number "2". He smacks Peter in the back of the head and says, "Put down 8 you moron. They could just as easily turn you down for 2 as they could 8." Turns out, Tony ain't such a moron! Peter enters "8" in the application and sends it in.

Later that night, he is hanging out at his favorite bar in Union City with his buddies Vinny, John and Gene. He tells them about the application and the number of seats he requested. He continues by stating he wants them all to go in on it with him. John looks at Peter and patronizingly says, "Hey, that's great. Sure. I'd love to be in." Apparently, Peter has been excited about similar situations before and not come through. John, being a bit of a cynic, just doesn't see it happening. Vinny is elated, as Peter has proven his worth enough times with baseball tickets to believe he will pull this off.

A few weeks pass and then it happens...

A letter comes in the mail with the Giants logo on the return address. Peter's mother, Lena (full first name Giuseppina) pulls the letter from the mailbox while Peter is at work. She looks curiously at the strange shaped hat on the logo and annoyingly tosses it on Peter's pillow. Peter drags himself home after another long day of work to find the envelop. Again, he is immediately energized and tears it open with the speed and accuracy of a surgeon. The letter reads;

"Dear Mr. Marchesani,

Welcome to the family of the New York Giants. We gratefully accept your application for season tickets. You have been awarded 8 seats in section 114. Please be advised, these seats are at field level, so they are considered obstructed view. Enclose your check for $??? to cover the seats for the 1964 season...."

Peter begins to dance around, hooting and hollering with joy. His mother walks in and smacks him in the head. "You gonna disturba da neighbors! Whatsa matta for you?" Truth be told. I do not recall my grandmother having near the accent of my grandfather. However, this was long before I knew her, so I assume she lost the accent over time.

In the evening, Peter waltzes into the bar grinning from ear to ear. Vinny knows immediately what these means. "You got'em, didn't you? You lucky bastard!" Peter cooly looks over and says, "Today, we are all lucky, my friends."

And thus, a legacy was born. Unfortunately for Peter, the period from 1964 to 1980 would be the worst in Giants history. They had two winning seasons in all that time and basically were the equivalent of the current Detroit Lions. In some ways, it was worse. Fans had to endure games at four different venues before Giants Stadium opened in 1976. These included Shea Stadium and the Yale Bowl in freaking Connecticut! Still, that day had a significant impact on my family. It ranks just ahead of 2/4/2008 (Super Bowl XLII for those of you not paying attention), as the greatest day in my family's history as it relates to our love of professional sports.

As I stated I have no facts to back most of this up. I am also sure that my brothers and maybe even my mother will chime in with additional pieces of the story. Personally, I am sticking with this version.

Stay tuned for most stories from my own 30 plus years of attending games at the current Giants Stadium. This is serving as a cathartic farewell to a place that is filled with amazing memories. Many have more to do with family and friends then football. Join me in saying farewell.