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Unclassified Info: Reflecting on the father of all victories

June 14, 2012|By Gary Huerta

As a self-professed hockey fan, I find it impossible to let the L.A. Kings' recent win of the Stanley Cup go without at least saying congratulations and thanks to the team I have followed since I was 12. Watching my team hoist the cup was so unbelievable and incomprehensible that I watched the entire game again as soon as I got home.

On Tuesday, I woke up early and tore into the sports page like a rabid animal, reading every word about our conquering heroes. As I looked at the images of the players celebrating their accomplishment, I took time to think about my obsession with sports and how that passion was passed from my father to me.

As Father's Day approaches, it seems most fitting to retrace the times I spent with my own father developing and sharing a love of competition — and how those events were often a major part of the fabric that kept us close through the different seasons of our lives.

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I remember going to Dodger Stadium with him when I was about 5 years old to see Hall of Famer Don Drysdale pitch. It was at a time when I had no understanding of the game. I had no idea why the guy on the dirt was throwing the ball to another guy with a stick. But I think my dad knew that someday I'd be able to say I saw one of the greatest pitchers of all time take the mound.

We attended many other baseball games, including Old-Timers Day, where I saw legends like Casey Stengel, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and others trot out to the cheers of those who watched them in their prime. I was a boy just happy to be spending time with his dad.

On Thursdays, we were in the kitchen watching 10 p.m. tape-delayed broadcasts of UCLA basketball on KTLA during their legendary dominance of college hoops. I cried the day their 80-plus game streak was broken by Notre Dame.

As I got older, I sat through many a Rams game next to my dad, including a few heartbreaking losses to the Cowboys and Vikings in the NFC Championship. These were my early teens, when I was often reluctant to open up and talk about my life. Sometimes drives to the Coliseum could be painfully silent, but even through my most difficult years, sports was the one place where we found common ground and a place to relate.

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