In this terrible, terrible year we will stray a bit from the normal baseball thread today.
Tommy and Eddie were brothers. They were Brooklyn born wise guys, who I’ve known more than 2/3 my life. Eddie was my wife’s father and his younger brother by four years, Tommy, was her uncle.
Like many brothers they had similarities and they had differences and being such strong personalities, both were etched in stone.
Ed was a tough guy, an MP back in the service, a command and control engineering manager and VP. When I first met him my wife told me I needed to have a super strong hand shake and look him in the eye. I shouldn’t have worried as he was excited to sweep a college student studying engineering into the fold. Later on he would help me get my first engineering job, for which I will always be thankful. He was kind of an Aspie back in the day when no one knew what Asperger’s was and no one had watched Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory. He was very set in his ways. He would never go to lunch with us after church on Sunday mornings because he had to go home and eat his peanut butter sandwich. E-V-E-R-Y–W-E-E-K.
Ed had gone to Brooklyn Tech and then to City College. He was in the same class as Colin Powell, who was so poor he wore his ROTC uniform everywhere. He grew up a few blocks from Chuck Connors the Rifleman, who played both professional baseball with the Dodgers and professional basketball with the Celtics. Back in the day, most of the Dodgers lived in among the folks in Brooklyn and he would see them often. The Dodgers were his team and after they split, he became a Mets fan when they were created in 1962.
Ed and his wife Vivian had seven kids and he decided he couldn’t afford to put that many through school up in New Jersey, so he packed nine people and a dog into the Plymouth station wagon and drove them down to Houston in 1971. And that is where I met his daughter Mary four years later.
Tommy was always a bit more fun loving than Ed. Not as serious, not as cheap (oh yes), but still a Brooklyn kid through and through. One of my favorite pictures I’ve seen of Tom was as a young man with a huge head of hair, a blindingly clean T-shirt on with a pack of cigarettes rolled into the sleeve. I wish I could go back and remove those cigarettes from his life.
Tommy became an accountant and he and his wife Ruth had five kids. They eventually moved out to the suburbs in New Jersey and he would commute in and out from his office in the Twin Towers. He was in the Towers when the first attack occurred back in 1993 and had to walk down 60 floors, but fortunately was retired when 9/11 occurred. He never drove a car his whole life, unlike his brother who became a daily commuter in Houston.
When they got older the brothers would talk often. Tommy would almost always start off the phone calls as a prank, pretending to be a repairman or someone selling insurance. (As though someone with a thick as a brick Brooklyn accent would be calling Ed’s house in Missouri City). Ed would complain that Tommy liked to talk too long and we told him to enjoy it while you can.
They both liked sports, including baseball. Ed would DVR the Astro games to watch the next day, but would only watch them if they won. We were up at Tom and Ruth’s house during the beginning of the 2019 Yanks – Astros ALCS and even though we were on opposite sides, Tom was always a good sport about it, even when Correa walked off game two.
Both of these wise guys taught me a lot about life and loyalty to wife and children and the inner toughness it takes to get up everyday no matter what is happening and earn that paycheck.
On Sept. 21, the younger brother, Tommy passed away up in New Jersey. At the time, his older brother Ed was in failing health too. This last Wednesday November 4th, Ed went to be with his brother.
I’m sure somewhere Tommy is talking Eddie’s ear off and he probably doesn’t mind at all.