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Father’s Day: A Retrospective

I  guess I was what a good friend of mine, who was raised in a single-mother household called one of the lucky ones, because my dad was always there.

I  guess I was what a good friend of mine, who was raised in a single-mother household called one of the lucky ones, because my dad was always there.

My parents have been married for 40 years and there was never confusion about who the man of the house is. My dad is a laid back cat. He doesn’t have the kick he had when he was 35, but at 60, he’s still the same security blanket that never had to impress his will upon a situation or person to get his point across. I never heard a lot of yelling in the crib. The peeps always kept disputes on the low. It was part of a system of devotion “and doing things the right way” that my father still tries his best to rep.

 I never realized how fortunate I was to have Pops, until I became a father in ’06. I’ve also developed another level of respect for a guy whose ethics and moral fiber I probably could never duplicate. My pops is church-raised, respected in the community, his first job was in the NYC Mayor’s office and he was the first Vice President of the South Street Seaport—back in the ‘80s when it was an empty fish market and a breeding ground for organized crime.

Today, The South Street Seaport is one of the world’s greatest tourist attractions. The only reason you never saw him on the cover of Black Enterprise is because the President at the time, who was half Irish and half Black, didn’t want anyone to know his true ethnicity so he turned down the opportunity. 


My pops had basement vodka shots at 3:00 am, with made men who offered him bribes. He never took one. Good thing, because the Feds had our phones tapped for real, but pops was always clean and noble.  


My pops gets it from his pops, the youngest of 13 kids, who didn’t have enough money for lab fees to last one semester in college, fought in WWII and rose from poverty in Brooklyn to become the 8th black fire Chief in NYC history. He died a married man of 55 years in 2003.

It took me a while to develop my father’s reserve, diplomacy and basic common sense. He knew when to fall back. I was more a steaming locomotive. Luckily, I  adopted his flavorful traits as well. He’s smart, ambitious and devoutly committed to his family.

He placed value in that, kind of, hands-on development. I do too. Since the birth of my son J.C., the reflection in my mirror is looking more and more like my dad’s. It’s a satisfying feeling because I know I’m moving with the correct energy. It’s who I inevitably was to become, because he was my guiding light and the foundation he set for me eventually burst through the core of my existence. Where would I be without him pushing and prodding me towards greatness?


Don’t get me wrong. My mom’s no chopped liver, but the value in having dad there is reflected in my kids’ existence. There’s a strength that you have throughout life, when you have a pop to turn too. Some people exist wonderfully without one. Some would be completely different people with a good one.

I almost completely took my dad for granted. I could be giving this speech at his funeral. Instead, I'm fortunate enough to be able to reflect on my fortune, hug him and have a drink with him while we watch the Giants on Sundays (with my son running rampant in a Plaxico Burress Super Bowl jersey).  Pops always told me “life’s basically boring, save a few magical moments.”


Well, I’m Houdini in this b*tch right now. Father’s Day for me will consist of coaching my son’s 8u baseball team in a championship game and watching my 5-year-old daughter Cameron run track. They throw down in the classroom too. 

Don’t get me wrong. Their mom is all that. But today I’m taking the credit for my family’s awesomeness. That’s what Father’s Day is really about. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.