February 23, 2005

Hook a kid early...

My first Caps autograph:


(Click to see it larger than life, and you can see the faded signature.)

And here's the back, if you want to see Ron's stats from 1974.

So I don't know if I ever mentioned how I got into hockey. It was genetic, passed on by my mom to my sister and me (our brother is quite indifferent). Mom was a hockey fan from childhood, going to games with her grandfather at Washington's Uline Arena. When I was a kid, she watched the NHL game of the week on NBC, and I watched because of Peter Puck. (Love that hockey game!)

My dad was a football and baseball guy, but in 1974, when tickets for the Capitals first season went on sale, a buddy of his from New England got him interested. The buddy, Bob, actually contacted the team about working on the game night staff...the guys who sit in the press box keeping statistics and assisting the working press.

Since Bob worked for the team, I had an in for autographs...I gave Bob my cards and he'd give them back signed. (I remember one night at a pool party, the adults were playing water polo and in return for staying out way past bedtime, I was running to retrieve the ball every time it went out of the pool. As I went to throw it back in, several people tried to get me to throw it to them...my dad, my uncles. But Bob said, in his flat Baaaahston accent, "Who got ya Ron Low's autograph, Nickie?" You can guess where the ball went, I'm sure.)

And by luck of the draw, my parents' season tickets were, if not the best in the house, pretty darn good: right behind the Caps' bench...a great location for getting the odd puck or broken stick. And after two seasons, a spot opened up on the game staff and Bob got my dad the job...by then, Dad had become a hockey guy. So my siblings and I pretty much grew up at the Cap Centre, making friends with ushers and vendors. And because we had to wait for Dad to finish work after the game, we were there in the lobby when the players left...perfect vantage point for autograph hounding.

Of course, once I was a teenager I was much too cool to ask for autographs, although my father kept up the "Clean your room" thing when a hero would be in town. So I have a few...Bobby Clarke, Bobby Orr, Marcel Dionne. Harold Snepsts. Bernie Parent said "My daughter doesn't clean her room when I tell her to, why should yours?" Oh, yeah, and there was one from a guy who played for Edmonton. I can scan that too, if you'd like to see it...

Posted by Nic at February 23, 2005 07:04 PM

Man, I am sooooo jealous.

Posted by: Ted at February 24, 2005 12:25 PM

Yeah, who wouldn't want Ron Low's autograph?

Actually, yes, I was one really lucky kid. And of course every generation has its must-see players, but I think Victor is jealous when I rattle off the ones I saw play in the '70s.

Posted by: nic at February 24, 2005 03:56 PM

Just think, if Mom and Dad hadn't had those seats and the game-night staff job, you would never have known Craig Patrick well enough to curse Noah Emmerich's lack of resemblence to him in "Miracle."

Posted by: Karen at February 24, 2005 04:24 PM
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