‘Life is too short not to be an Italian’

Tony ‘Goose’ Siragusa passes away at age 55
June 24, 2022

Goose is gone - A man in the stands at a Ravens game 25 years ago wore a T-shirt that read: “Life is too short not to be an Italian.” I’m sure he was a Tony Siragusa fan. “Goose” died Wednesday at the age of 55. No cause of death was given, but the bigger the guy, the bigger the age-related risk factors every day he steps out the door. Goose played at 6-foot-3 and 340 pounds. My nephew Mike was a teammate and friend of Tony a couple of years with the Ravens in the late 1990s. I talked to them both two hours before a Sunday home game. Finally it was me who broke off the conversation. “I’ll let you guys go. I'm  sure you have pregame routines you like to follow.” Goose laughed, “Hey Mike, I thought you said your uncle Fredman was cool. Fredman, watch me, my pregame is wearing a white T-shirt and football pants, and trying to touch my toes.” And off they went, and Tony wasn’t lying. One game, he got a double stinger after hurling himself at ball carriers without the use of his arms. Medical people packaged him onto a stretcher for a quick ride down to shock trauma. Later in the second half, Tony waved to the crowd from the broadcast booth and the stadium went bonkers. I remember he had a slice of pizza in his left hand, but maybe I made that up. 

Underdressed - Semiformal or business attire required in Sussex County may mean no flip-flops, wear shirts with sleeves and remove your hat, unless it’s a fedora. But clotheshorses at Sesame Street by the Sea are eating hay behind split-rail fences. People think Haberdasher was one of Santa's reindeer. The Cape lacrosse girls were invited to Legislative Hall June 22 to be honored by the General Assembly for their state championship. In 2015, I followed the lacrosse team to Dover to take photos. I was a gallery guy, a non-player and winner of the most underdressed person in the room award, wearing non-matching sweats. Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf stood at the podium, looked out and said, “Fredman is here. No one knows more about this team than you. Come up and tell us about them.” If I had known I was going to address the General Assembly, I’d have worn my dress cargo pants from Walmart.   

Almost dry toast - Hold the butter and jam, and don’t melt no cheese. Tuesday night, the Blue Rocks invited the Cape state champion baseball and wrestling teams to a game at Frawley Stadium for a blended honor, with both teams being introduced along the third-base line. Sportswriter and grandpa Fredman knew nothing about it. I’m like a Cheerio lost inside a stale box of Froot Loops. “They called and asked me and I said, ‘Sure, sounds like fun,’” baseball coach Ben Evick said. “I went, and so did most of our kids,” said Cape wrestling coach Chris Mattioni. “They seemed to have fun and enjoyed it.” The Cape boys’ lacrosse team lost to Salesianum 13-11 in the state championship final. A great season and a stupendous team, they were not only two goals short of a Blue Rocks invite, but also two goals short of a scheduled championship walk – baseball and girls’ lax – around the hallways of their own school. Sports teach life lessons, but the takeaway and spin on reality is different for each athlete. 

Graduation rates - Grandma Rose: “It's not so notable if you graduate from high school, but more notable if you don’t.” I glanced at the Cape girls’ lacrosse roster from 2015. There were six seniors, four juniors, six sophomores and eight freshmen. I can say with certainty in 2022 that each of those 24 players on that team is now a college graduate. Talk about graduation rates! The analytics of demographics are real, but rarely researched. Sounds like a fun summer project, especially as Cape’s high school enrollment approaches 1,900 students. 

Snippets - I can’t keep track of track. Between the Diamond League and NCAA, there is always some repeat meet available on cable. Kenny Riedel is the only person I know who understands what’s happening in real time. A locked-in football schedule seems undemocratic to me; maybe school choice (these are the schools we choose to play) is another option, something approaching scheduling free agency. My nephew Mike, Cape’s new head coach, spent 20 minutes explaining to his aunt Susie defensive adjustments to multiple-formation offenses. I finally said, “Mike, stop!” But what I should have known was that she followed everything he was saying. It was me that was lost, left out of yet another loop. Go on now, git!        


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