It was a beautiful October day at old Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan, and I was but a wee lad of a Superfan. My Pops had to go to a Midwest Sales Convention, and as per Swerski custom, all his business trips would coincide with a sporting event.
A few of my more fonder memories were when we saw the White Sox play in old Yankee Stadium back in the 1965, because knocking off Whitey Ford was always memorable. We took in a Cubs game at Olympic Stadium in 1970, seeing Ron Santo go yard. We caught Norn Van Lier battling Rick Barry in the Western Conference Finals in 1975. And we were at the 1961 Stanley Cup 6th and clinching game in Detroit. watching our beloved Blackhawks bring Lord Stanley's Cup to Chicago.
And it was later that year, on October 8th, we acquired tickets to see the 4th professional football game of one Michael Keller Ditka. And a glorious game it was. It was Mike Ditka the dominating force of a tight end, long before any thoughts of becoming Da Coach had crept into his head.
We didn't have the best of seats, being stuck in the end zone, but it ended up being the right end zone, as our Monsters of the Midway scored 21 unanswered 4th quarter points right at us to come back and beat the Lions 31-17.
Chicago QB Billy Wade went over 300 yards if I remember correctly, with a couple TDs through the air, and another TD on the ground. One of his TD passes was a 98 yarder to Bo Farrington who would a few short years later die tragically in a car accident along with The Great Willie Galimore. Willie "The Wisp" seemed like he was running wild all afternoon and he capped the scoring with a long 50 yard TD run.
Ditka tied the game at 17 with a long TD catch and on the day he went 5 for 120 and that solitary touchdown. That was our first time seeing the man that would go on to become Da Coach close up and he was a mammoth of a man. Even now as I type this, a little trickle of a tear goes down my face thinking back to that wonderful game and the great memories of Bears Legends of yesteryear and of road trips with my Pops.
So here's to you Dad, as I raise a cold one to you, and in honor of today being Mike Ditka's birthday here's a clip of some of his best sound bytes.