Cuba hat opens up conversations I never see coming

Fredman the Rain Man of sports memories
December 6, 2019

Cuba hat - I was at Meineke Monday afternoon getting my tire pressure checked and equalized in all five tires. Mi amigo Orlando Herrera was set to do the job, but first he asked me about my Cuba hat. He correctly pronounced with proper accent "Nacionales De Cuba" that’s written on the hat, then told me: "I'm Cuban on my mom's side and Puerto Rican through my dad." I told Orlando: "I'm Philly German through both sides." Orlando started to speak in German, and also speaks Spanish while English is his second language. There is no hint of an accent. "My mother insisted we properly enunciate words clearly," he said. We talked a little Cuban-American history. I really should have sat in a student desk and just listened to the Army veteran. And then he went to work on my tires because there is no way I'm messing with that hose at Wawa.

Turkey Trot - The Sea Colony Turkey Trot, run for the 17th straight year Dec. 1 under bearable rainy conditions, benefited Special Olympics Delaware. I recognized several athletes in the race including 27-year-old Jeremy Eglit, who closed with a 42:15, and 25-year-old Sasha Hudson. Jeremy was a football manager when he was at Cape, part of an inclusion initiative, and Sasha never met a microphone he didn’t like – he is quite the character when given the chance to do public address announcing. Runners don’t necessarily run for a cause, but just because. You just never know what race is going to hit in terms of big numbers. The Turkey Trot is always a feel-good race. 

Steely Fredman - “Rikki, don’t lose that number. You don’t want to call nobody else. Send it off in a letter to yourself.” – Steely Dan. I was at my brother Tom’s visitation Dec. 3 in Bensalem, Pa., and three Bishop Egan football players, all older than me, came through the family reception line. Phil Lantot was a running back in 1961. He introduced himself and I said, “you wore No. 42.” He smiled and said “yes.” The next guy was running back Terry Pezzola, class of 1963. “You not only wore No. 21 but made a living on the 21 option,” I said. And Terry said, “didn’t you play fullback?” I told him, “No, you must be thinking of somebody else.” The last guy was Jerry Roach, a broad-shouldered center from 1962 who played with my brother. I told Jerry, “no one remembers anything about the center, but I’m going to say you wore No. 51.” Jerry smiled and said, “I suddenly feel better about myself.” 

Three Fredheads - My brother Tom was inducted into the Bucks County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, his son Mike was inducted in 2013 and I was inducted in 2014. Tuesday night I saw about 10 men who are part of that hall of fame over the last 11 years. One of them said, “Your brother Tom said before your induction speech, “I don’t know what my baby brother may say so just be prepared for anything.” I told him, “you know, I spent 39 years in Delaware doing sports stuff then got inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. That is an ironic Fred fable.” He said, “not at all. This is your home.” Thomas Wolfe published a best seller “You Can’t Go Home Again.” I’m more an “any place I hang my hat is home” kind of person. 

Culture or cult - The word cult is usually considered pejorative (not nice). A cult is sometimes just a social group sharing a common interest and strongly focused on a specific goal like winning a field hockey state championship. I call it “zealots pursuing their passion” without making excuses. Cape has won eight state titles since 2011 and that happens because of unrelenting focus and skill development over a long period of time. You can’t hang banners in gyms and on stadium bleachers without annoying some people who think you are just so over the top. But if you want to win championships in sports, you better chase the dream like a fiend while offering no apologies. And please don’t ask “what are you trying to say, Fredman?” because I think I just said it.  

Snippets - Peep this! Opening night in boys’ basketball Dec. 4 saw CR over Sussex Tech 84-44, Dover blows by Sussex Central 86-26, and Woodbridge breezes past Indian River 75-31. It’s going to be a long season for the sportswriters and scoreboard operators. Go on now, git! 

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