Jon and the list

Almost 20 years later, Jonathan is doing all-right. Okay, let me backtrack a bit here.

My wife is one of her summer cleaning frenzies, where everything is fair game for cremation except the air fryer, (she loves that). This go-around to obliterate the outdated, useless and unnecessary took place in the attic. During her endeavors she came across a bag of treasures from Jon’s grammar school days. Much of it was academic work, you know, the theory or relativity and such, mixed with a healthy load of art work which she deemed void of any talent. Picasso was in no danger. Truth be known, she did keep some momentos but most of it was deemed first ballot Hall of Fame heave-ho material.

After a mild protest from Jon who felt his artistic talents were not being recognized properly, he did come up with a newspaper article I had written about him in 2005 when he was five-years old. The sports journey for dad has been one of life’s joyful trips and the gist of the article was a list of some experiences I have had and hoping he could enjoy what the sports world can offer that adds more than a touch of the special to life.

At the time I wrote this, “To date, he shows a murderous left-handed hockey and golf swing, but no particular penchant for other sports except riding his scooter and pounding on the cat.” Who knew what the future would bring.

Now as he heads towards the ripe of old age of 25 (Jan., 2025),I can say he’s checked off a good chunk of the list. A sampling if I might:

Jon got to play in front of large, friendly hometown basketball crowds always special in any town but particularly in a small town where the only people you don’t know sit in the stands and belong to the other team.

He has seen some great Yale-Harvard games including two years ago when protestors held up the game at halftime and refused to leave. When officials finally removed the clueless, the game continued Yale won in double overtime as darkness shrouded the field without lights.  In the same vein, Jon has become a fine tailgater in the best of the Yale Bowl tradition.

Jon has belted more than a few game-winning hits in a fine two-time All-State baseball career. In recent years he has found the joy of the team meeting. His Tri-State team, the Bethlehem Plowboys is top-notch team meeting guys with plenty of endurance.

Jon has attended the Litchfield Hills Road Race. I’m not sure if he has had a beer with the legendary Bill Neller but he knows Bill so we give him half credit for that one.

He has made the whiffle ball dance in the backyard of a summer afternoon.

Jon always respected the time and effort his coaches put in from A.J. Bunel in basketball to Martin Giroux in soccer to Bob McMahon, Jimmy Alberto and Pat O’Neil in baseball.

I always wanted Jon to witness a state championship and watch the bus be greeted by hundreds of fans at the bottom of Plymouth Hill as it rolled into Thomaston.  The Thomaston High girls basketball program provided the opportunity three times, the THS baseball team once. He knows the special feeling in a small town and you don’t forget it.

Jon has made a lifetime of friends long after the final score is forgotten, another of my hopes for him.

THE FLIP SIDE.

There were things that have not happened.

I wanted Jon to be able to dunk a basketball. The rim was out of reach. At the age of five I thought he would get close to 6-feet tall. Didn’t happen. He topped out at 5-footl-7. He has a nice hoop career but the rim wasn’t part of it.

There was no home run in Little League. I hadn’t done it. He followed suit. Oh well.

In 2005 UConn-Tennessee women’s basketball was still a mega-deal. I was hoping Jon could see the rivalry and feel the electricity. I covered the classic 1995 game and it is still the most intense arena I have been in. It isn’t there anymore. Tennessee fell back, UConn became the power, the rivalry ended for a while. Jon didn’t get to one. Doesn’t matter, the UConn men have filled any void.

In 2004 the Red Sox finally won a World Series after 86 years. Jon saw it and I wanted him to see another one. The Red Sox took care of that winning three more.

I wanted Jon to read his mom’s press clippings. She was good – a six-time BL All-Star, the top vote-getter on the softball team as a sophomore and went on to a solid career in softball and field hockey at Southern Connecticut. He hasn’t read a lot of it but he knows mom was a big-time athlete.

I wrote that he should never wear black socks or black sneakers. Okay, that’s outdated. I stand corrected.

He has never read a John Feinstein book. There is no better sports writer. But, as smart as Jon is, he is not a book reader. He is missing out.

I suggested he watch a Larry Bird tape. Not sure on this one but he knows who Larry Legend is.

I can proudly say he has never owned a pair of bowling shoes or a bowling shirt. Mission accomplished.

I was hoping he learned how to play Kick the Can. Never happened. And bombardment which I think he has played.

Did he watch Hoosiers more than once? Not sure, but he has seen it.

Finally, I wrote, “And if sports aren’t your thing, make enough money to put dad in a home and give him proper care.” I am not there yet, although you may get some dissenters on that thought. But I am confident he will come through if and when.

My experiences never have to be Jon’s experiences.  It is his journey. But it’s nice to know that he’s found so much fun in so many of the same things mom and dad have.  Heck, he’s not even 25 and that list is going to grow.

Just a little update after two decades. Hey, the kid is doing fine. As for the art work? What’s that?

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