Monday, January 23, 2017

Happy Birthday, Both Of You

If today is your birthday, then you share your big day with, well, nobody all that big-time.

You get Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of the plane that landed on the Hudson River. And Tiffany Amber Thiessen, from Beverly Hills 90210. And some athletes. That's about it.

If your birthday is tomorrow, you did a lot better.

TigerBlog went to look up who was born today, and he accidentally clicked on Jan. 24, not Jan. 23. If your birthday is Jan. 24, then you share it with, among others, John Belushi. Sadly, Belushi only celebrated 33 of his birthdays; TigerBlog has not watched "Saturday Night Live" since Belushi died, in 1982.

On the other hand, today is a great day to have a birthday, because your birthday is 1-2-3. As in, 1/23. You know. January 23.

If you are celebrating a birthday today, one other person you share it with is TigerBlog's paternal grandmother. Or maybe maternal grandfather.

Today is the birthday of one of them. Yesterday was the birthday of the other. TigerBlog could never remember which was which. He used to send out birthday cards on the same day, and he'd often call them on the one that wasn't theirs.

TigerBlog's grandfather Joe - Papa, TigerBlog and his cousins called him - would have been 108, TB believes. Joe, MotherBlog's father, ran a driving school in Queens. He was a good man, one who valued his family, one who was married to his wife Judy for what TB believes was 62 years. He was also locked into his ways, up every day around 4, lunch around 10, dinner around 4 in the afternoon, bed around 8, always with his little transistor radio.

TigerBlog's grandmother Bella would be turning 116 today, or yesterday. Her husband Toby passed away in 1953, well before TigerBlog was born, and Bella would be alone for the last 42 years of her life.

Well, not quite alone. She lived on the sixth floor of a building in Brooklyn with one of her sisters, while her two other sisters lived on the second floor. She was also a few blocks away from her daughter, TB's Aunt Edie.

One Thanksgiving, back in the early newspaper days, TigerBlog went to cover a high school football game - it was Morrisville against Bristol, a very old rivalry, by the way. It was a cold, rainy day, and by the time TB got to Thanksgiving dinner, he was wearing muddy jeans, old sneakers and a soaked sweatshirt.

What did his grandmother say to him? This is what she said: "This is how you dress for business?"

TigerBlog was with the men's basketball team in California, at a tournament at Fresno State, in December 1995, when Bella passed away. TB flew back after he got the news, missing the championship game between the Tigers and the home team.

Princeton, who would win that game 59-54, would start, as TB has said before, three players who are currently Division I head coaches - Princeton's Mitch Henderson, Cornell's Brian Earl and Fairfield's Sydney Johnson. Can any lineup at any other school for any other season make the same claim?

All three of the head coaches, by the way, were in double figures in the game. Henderson led Princeton with 18 points that night, all of which came on his 6 for 15 three-point shooting, while Johnson had 16 and Earl had 11.

Fast-forwarding more than 21 years, it's first-exam break, but that doesn't mean that the competitive side of Mitch Henderson has to be put aside for nearly two more weeks. Nope.

The Jadwin Gym ping-pong tournament has been progressing slowly, but it's reached its crucial rounds. On one side of the draw, there's a semifinal match between Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan and softball coach Lisa Van Ackeren. TB has never seen Mollie play, but he understands she's pretty good and pretty intense.

The winner of that match will then advance to the championship match, where Henderson will be waiting. Mitch knocked off TigerBlog in the first round and then departmental IT guy Brian Fitzwater and then TigerBlog's OAC colleague Craig Sachson back-to-back Friday afternoon in the next two rounds.

TigerBlog could point out that of the three, he's the only one who took a game off Mitch.

TB isn't sure what the schedule is for the rest of the tournament. He does know that there is talk of videostreaming the finals, or maybe just the ultimate championship match between the Jadwin winner and the Dillon Gym winner, who TB assumes must be field hockey assistant coach Mike Pallister.

If anyone wants a scouting report on Henderson, by the way, TB is pretty sure he has one.

In the meantime, happy birthday. To both of you.