Ray Mariucci letter

(First published in 1973)


Today’s editorial is a moving letter from a father to his high school athlete son, penned by an Iron Mountain resident who prefers that his name not be made public:

Dear Son:

I suppose a boy your age often wonders how he stacks up in the eyes of his dad. If my eyes have not already told you, perhaps I can express my feelings in this letter at the expense of some considerable over-emotion and sentimentalism.

How can I adequately express the feeling of pride I have for you not only as an athlete in uniform but as an individual out of it? The pride that has built up over a period of years in your dedication to athletics.

You’ve outgrown me by a couple of inches now, but it seems like yesterday that you sat in my lap watching the games on TV. I explained the games to you then-now you explain that to me.

Through the years I’ve kept my eye on you. I’ve watched you develop. grow, and participate, and I’ve noticed many things…

I watched you devote your life to rigid training and clean living. I have seen you develop into a boy with spirit confidence, and with a will to win. Yet, along with this grew modesty, humility, and respect for the other guy along with a compassion for fellow players.

I’ve seen you cry and suffer silently in defeat and exalt in victory. There was no need to look at me in embarrassment, when you thought you did not perform well, because I knew you were doing the best you could. You always did the best you could.

And yet, there were the many times your play was outstanding- the home run to win the ball game, the winning bucket, the second effort for a touchdown, and the final spurt to win the race. At times, I cried too-but with tears of pride.

I’ve seen you get a few knocks -at times helped off the field. And I’ve seen signs of pain on your face. I felt that pain too, my son. We used a lot of liniment nursing you through your aches and pains.

I’ve swelled with pride when the crowd gave you a standing ovation in appreciation of your efforts and performance. And how proud I was to be your father after a coach’s comment. “He’s the kind of son I would like to have!”

Then the compliments from the different walks of like-the dentist with questions about next week’s game and the grocer inquiring about your health. I’ve seen your mother’s looks of pride and I’ve heard your brothers and sisters boast about you.

You’ve earned these compliments, son, not only with your fine efforts, but with your sportsmanship. I’ve seen you place yourself in the doorway of the opposing players locker room to shake their hands – in victory or defeat, and I’ve heard you pass a few kind words to your opponent’s coach.

Never once have I seen you deliberately try to hurt an opponent nor take advantage of an unfair situation. With all of this, you have earned the respect of coaches, officials, and opposing players.

Your concern and compassion for your teammates also shows. What a heart-warming scene-in the middle of the court-your arm around a sobbing teammate who had just missed a crucial free throw in a championship game.

I’ve never seen you grandstand. Yet, I’ve seen outstanding teamwork and sacrifice on your part that have helped your team to victory.

I’ve learned from you, son-about courage, about loyally, and fair play, and I admire your optimism and your philosophy of life. All and all you’ve make my life richer and more meaningful. For this I thank you.

I am also grateful for the many rich shared experiences, the thrills and memories, and the feeling of pride when you’re standing by my side, grateful for the absence of phone calls from the police station or the hospital.

You may have a couple of broken bones and a few lumps and bruises for souvenirs, son, but you also have a collection of a few trophies, medals, and newspaper clippings along with your established character to remind us that all of this was not in vain.

It isn’t that important whether you make all-conference or most valuable. The point is that up to now you’ve played well and lived well-a step toward desirable and successful manhood.

To say that I’m proud of you, son, is putting it mildly.

Love, Your Dad