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Baseball and Brothers

The editor, left, on a long-ago first day of school with his little brother, Glenn.

One of the many things my little brother, Glenn, and I agreed on in the almost 20 years we shared a bedroom was that baseball was our favorite sport to play and watch. We were both big New York Yankees fans and because we were only a little over a year apart in age, we got to play on the same team every other season — first the Celtics, then the Robins (go Mighty Robins!) and finally the Pirates.

There were also endless stickball games in the backyard of our suburban New Jersey home. And I recall every spring heading to Farrier Sporting Goods in Wyckoff for new spikes or a glove.

Glenn would certainly agree that I was the better player and I went on to play in high school and college while he muddled along in his Carl Yasztremski throw-right-bat-left style. He was mostly a catcher — I think he liked hiding behind all of the equipment. His baseball career lasted up until about seventh grade, when his attention turned to other outdoor pursuits.

The funny thing is, even though I played more sports at a higher level, Glenn actually received our family’s first varsity sports letter.

It seems that when he was a freshman at Ramapo High School in nearby Franklin Lakes the wrestling team had a need for lower weight wrestlers and, being all of 96 pounds when he entered high school and without much else to do in the winter, he joined the team and made varsity for two years — by his sophomore year he had “bulked up” to all of 106 pounds.

He never did let his big brother forget that he had two varsity letters before I even had my first. We always got a kick out of that.

I write all of this now in tribute to Glenn, who passed away last month after a two-year battle with brain cancer. Playing baseball with him remains my favorite among many memories with him growing up. I didn’t even mind the varsity letter story he told on more than one family occasion. After all, he earned it on the mat.

It is certainly a coincidence that my brother passed away at the same time I was putting together this baseball and wrestling issue of Team Insight. It made me realize once again the important role team sports play in our lives, the memories that are made and the friendships they forge. I am fortunate to be able to write about the roles our team dealer readers – including my friends at Farrier Sporting Goods, which still exists on Crescent Avenue in my old hometown – play in our youth and adult lives.

So rest in peace, little brother, knowing your sports memories on the baseball diamond and wrestling mat – and your two varsity letters – live on with me as I honor your life well lived.