Rambling off the roof

Torrin Thatcher

Well, all good things must come to an end, right? Seeing that this is my last column, it seems like time to submit a farewell address. Well, maybe not so much an address as more of a virtuoso performance that will make everyone to remember me forever.
That would seem like a good idea, but I’d rather write that on my deathbed.
So, in lieu of that, I’m going to talk about how much sports have shaped my life. That seems like a fitting way to finish out my stay on these pages.
I don’t know how I began to love sports, but it definitely had a lot to do with my mother. With the passing of my father when I was only five years old, my mother had to adopt the “sports figure” role that most people’s dads fill.
My mother must have had some time on her hands, as she was able to coach my sisters’ baseball and basketball teams, take me to hockey, baseball, basketball and football practices, and attend a good chunk of her three kids’ games.
A funny story from many years ago: I had a basketball game in Elkhorn, but I accidentally told my mom that morning we were playing in East Troy.
I didn’t realize my mistake at all until I didn’t see my mom in the stands at all during the game. I called her after the game, and she told me that she and my older sister had spent a good amount of time driving around East Troy in search of my game.
Whoops. Sorry, Mom.
Growing up on a dairy farm didn’t provide me with many evening opportunities to hang out with the kids on the street, so I spent a lot of time watching sports. Without ESPN – we were out in the country – I had to resort to the local Milwaukee and Madison nightly sports reports.
During Packer games, I would have a clipboard and paper to write down stats and notes that I wanted to remember about the game. When I wasn’t needed during milking in the barn, I could catch about 45 minutes or so of a game on TV.
During the summer time of being in the fields, Bob Uecker’s voice could be heard on the television, and racing home after the 10:30 church service to catch kickoff was always really important.
In 1996, when the Packers were set to play the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game, there was a birthday party we “had to go to” in West Allis at a restaurant. That “restaurant” ended up being a Chuck E. Cheese with tons of TVs for us to watch the game.
Well, not even that. The TVs didn’t have the game, so we basically left the birthday party and headed back to Whitewater to watch the game. I don’t whose birthday it was, either. Oh well – it’s not important.
My best friend since I was nine years old is just as big of a sports fan as I am. It’s not uncommon for him to call me during football season to ask me if I am watching the Middle Tennessee-Troy game or something important like that. We’ll watch anything.
Anyways, he was a good friend to visit when I wanted to get off the farm. Instead of watching the local news reports, my eyes got some exposure to “Baseball Tonight,” “SportsCenter” and the rest of the fantastic ESPN programming.
Going over to his house would usually get me some pizza, cereal, ESPN and video games. I remember when he bought the NCAA basketball game with Tim Duncan on the cover – that should tell you how old that game was. We played that thing into the ground.
Before that, we’d play Madden 95 on SNES. We did actually get some sun, too – that involved shooting hoops and hitting golf balls.
Over the years, I have tried to curb my enthusiasm for sports with varying results. This past reading period I was staying with my girlfriend in Whitewater, and we fell asleep after dinner.
The problem with falling asleep was that I missed a good chunk of the games that were on. I said to my girlfriend, “I feel kind of empty inside for missing those games.”
Not something she wanted to hear, apparently. Let’s just say that she still holds it over my head.
Am I going to continue to write about sports? I’ve recently looked into a few websites that are looking for people to cover the Packers, Brewers, Badgers and Bucks for their northern region of sports coverage, so that might be something I do to keep the fire lit.
But I’m not interested in making a job out of it – I’m a fan first of all, and I’m in it for the love of the game. That’s all I need.
It’s been a good run, folks. Thanks.