Saturday, June 19, 2010

From Father To Son

Tomorrow is Father’s Day in America. It is a celebration inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. Father's Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving, special dinners for fathers, and family-oriented activities.

Over the years there have been many famous fathers in sports, men who are famous for fathering children that are renowned for one reason or another in their own right.

However, as is usually the case, there are those that are more interesting for being less than stellar fathers. These are the sports fathers that are somewhat infamous. Three of these notorious dads immediately come to mind.

Former pro basketball player Jason Caffey was arrested in 2007 for failure to pay child support in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He went to bankruptcy court seeking protection from creditors, who include eight women with whom he has had ten children.

Another NBA star is Shawn Kemp, who was ordered to pay an Ohio woman $20,000 a month in child support. The number of children that Kemp has reportedly fathered out of wedlock ranges from seven to thirteen.

And let’s not overlook baseball great Steve Garvey, nicknamed “The Father of Our Country” for all of his sexual affairs. After his playing days were over he starred in his own real life soap opera, "from here to paternity."

Don’t get me wrong. Not all sports papas are rotten, no-good womanizers. Many are famous are for offspring that went on to excel in sports.

In Major League Baseball there is the Boone family, grandfather Ray, his son Bob and grandkids Bret and Aaron. The most famous father-son pair is Bobby Bonds and his son Barry. Other father-son combos include Cecil and Prince Fielder, Yogi and Dale Berra, Felipe and Moises Alou, the Griffeys - Ken and Ken Jr. and finally, Cal Ripken and son Cal Jr.

Auto racing gives us many father-son duos; the Pettys, the Andrettis, the Allisons, the Jarretts and the Earnhardts just to name a few.

In hockey we have the Hulls, Bobby and his son Brett. And who can forget “Mr. Hockey”, Gordie Howe and his boys, Marty and Mark.

The NBA does have a father of note besides Caffey and Kemp. Hall of Famer Rick Barry who fathered John and Brent, both of which went on to have pro roundball careers.

Former NFL star Archie Manning is the proud daddy of two Super Bowl Champion quarterbacks, Peyton of the Indianapolis Colts and Eli of the New York football Giants.

Two fathers with sons that excelled in sports other than the ones they did are boxer Ken Norton and former Dallas Cowboy Calvin Hill. Norton’s son, Ken Jr., had a very successful NFL career with the Cowboy and the 49ers. Hill’s son, Grant won consecutive NCAA basketball championships at Duke before going on to a career in the NBA.

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the father-daughter couple of Muhammad and Laila Ali. He is the greatest boxer ever and she has made a name for herself in the same field and to an extent the world of entertainment.

Having announced more softball games than anybody else in the world, I feel it necessary to mention famous sports casting pops and their kids. Harry Caray and son Skip were prominent baseball broadcasters and grandson/son Chip carries on the family legacy in the booth. Others that come to mind are Jack and Joe Buck, Marty and Thom Brennaman with Marv and Kenny Albert rounding things out.

All of these sport fathers are famous or infamous for what they and their children have accomplished. Despite the fact that this list is well researched and fairly all encompassing, it does not include my all-time favorite sport father.

My favorite sport father played both baseball and football while growing up. Unfortunately, an injury during a 1939 soccer game that required surgery to his elbow ended his promising athletic career.

This setback didn’t prevent this great father from serving in World War II and helping his wife raise four children. This distinguished man would have turned 85 years old next week. While he was still with us, his sports activity was limited to cheering for the Brewers, Packers and Badgers.

Who is my favorite sport father of all time? Emil Vagnoni. Happy Father’s Day Dad, I miss you so much.

Joyful the sound, the word goes around.
From father to son to son...

I first wrote this blog last year for Father’s Day 2009. When I decided to post it again this year, I realized that there would have to be a few minor alterations made. The reason they were necessary sadden me greatly. I love you Dad.

Until next time…from the booth.


Sharon said...

Very nice Paul, I miss my dad too..I think of him often and wish he was here always..

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Thank you Sharon. Your Dad was a hell of a guy.