I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. My heroes Michael Jordan, Ken Griffey Jr., Wayne Gretzky, and Joe Montana are some of the greatest of all time in their sports. We still debate this today. I cannot imagine a better time to grow up – maybe the 1960s when the Yankees were back, ok, perpetually, on top – Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra. But, let’s face it – a couple decades stand out well above the rest.
I have always debated who is the Greatest Of All Time – it is part of being a sports fan. Debates get heated about Lebron James and Tom Brady, compared against the accomplishments of my childhood heroes and I now find myself longing for the next generation of GOATs to usher in a new era of “greatests” for my kids to enjoy.
I want my kids to have the same thrill of growing with their favorite athletes, of living a childhood where their heroes will be remembered for generations, where records deemed unbreakable shatter into a thousand pieces. I want my kids to have this experience like I did – like my father did. I want them to share these memories with their kids.
My dad shared his memories with me of Mickey Mantle. This amazing hitter who somehow launched 500ft home-runs. He told me about Yogi Berra, whose character was bigger than the game. My dad grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, an incredible time in the Yankees storied history, an era that will always be remembered.
So, yes, perhaps this is an utterly random topic. It is a thought inspired by the Cubs recent 2016 World Series win. My boys and I were watching history being made together and names like Rizzo, Zobrist, and Bryant keep popping up. My oldest kept asking about Rizzo, kept remembering his name when he came up to bat or made an out. And then a few weeks back we grabbed a few packs of baseball cards and lo and behold – Anthony Rizzo! In my excitement, I grabbed some of my old cards to share and, of course, Ken Griffey Jr. has completely saturated my collection. And also reissued black and white cards of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Ty Cobb. And other heroes from the past from all sports. I spent a lot of time sharing stories of these legendary players.
It excites me to no end that this is the beginning of the stories my kids will eventually tell their own kids. About the Greatest Of All Time of their childhood. About talking about sports heroes with their father, from a generation long past. My dad passed down his stories to me and my brothers. Those stories and my own will be passed to my boys, and, in time, to their children. I’m now entering a chapter of fatherhood that is reminiscent of some of my fondest times with my dad. And I am entering fully aware that these are the days my kids will cherish most about their childhood and I am cheering for all the athletes out there to give them the experience I and my dad were so fortunate to have.