Saturday, May 2, 2015

What do Lou Gehrig and Frank Olivo Have in Common?

They both became famous after substituting for the first string guy.

Now I'm fairly certain that Lou Gehrig likely would have become famous even if Wally Pipp did not get a headache that day. He just got famous sooner. And Frank Olivo wasn't famous for being Frank Olivo (at least not as far as this story goes).

Frank Olivo was the Eagles' Santa Claus in the story that has made Philly sports fans famous around the world.

Frank Olivo was not scheduled to 'play' Santa that day. As I've recently learned, the scheduled Santa (not the real one who we know was too busy at that time of year to attend an Eagles game) got stuck in New Jersey (on account of snow). Frank, wearing his Santa suit, was spotted by Eagles personnel and asked to fill in. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Coincidentally, I have very fond memories of this day though not because of the Santa Claus story. It wasn't until years later that I knew about the significance of this day to anyone but me.

December 15, 1968 was my 9th birthday and there was a LOT of snow on the ground. We walked to church and I remember my aunt singing "Let it snow" as we did. We weren't barefoot and it wan't uphill but we did walk. My birthday present was my first camera. A Kodak Brownie camera. This photo isn't of me but the resemblance (hair and clothes) is spooky. Someone, I think it was mom, took a photo of us returning from our walk in the snow before presenting me with the camera as my own. I wish I still had the camera and the photo.

It was the last significant birthday snow for me. It has flurried on some years. And a few years ago there was a decent storm a few days before but since 1968 there has not been a buckle down and bear it snowstorm on December 15th.

Getting back to Frank. If the Eagles are smart they will pay tribute to this man during the season. And I'm laying odds that someone is going to throw snowballs at his funeral. Even if it is May.

Keep smiling and keep moving

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