Years after writing The Last Amateurs, about a season on the brink in the Patriot League, author John Feinstein’s place as one of the country’s preeminent sports writers has already been firmly established.
Even so, he couldn’t have been aware of the conversation I had the other night with a friend about that same book.
That same friend who, on his way to Gainesville, Florida to watch the Gators take on South Florida in baseball, would send me photos of his pregame tour of our alma mater.
Taking pictures of The Swamp and the other Gator landmarks in our own Shangri-La, those electronic submissions invoked a deep sense of envy on my part.
I could only see and attempt to raise his hand by telling him that I was on my way to the Lehigh-Lafayette Basketball game.
Not quite UNC-Duke.
Arriving on the Lafayette campus in Easton, Pennsylvania, I wondered to myself how quaint a place College Hill would have been for an undergraduate experience.
And as I looked out over Lafayette’s snow covered football field, Fisher Field, I considered the orange and blue warmth of the warmer fields in Florida.
So while Coach was in the outdoor stands in Gainesville for baseball, I was seated in the indoor stands in Lafayette’s Kirby Field House.
It would be a game between two long-standing rivals located only a few miles apart in eastern Pennsylvania just over the Delaware River from my New Jersey.
Maybe it’s a poor man’s UNC-Duke?
John Feinstein, in a stroke of good fortune for me, happened to be on hand for today’s Lehigh-Lafayette cage match from the Kirby Field House on the Lafayette campus in Easton, Pennsylvania. Calling the game for CBS College Sports, he had the second best seat in the house.
Because mine was the first.
Sitting one row behind his perch and at the game an hour before tip-off, I approached him to say thanks for a phone call made fourteen years ago.
Looking for guidance and perhaps some affirmation, I dialed directory assistance for his number, found it, and then dialed.
To my nervous surprise, he took my call and spoke comfortably with me for a good fifteen minutes. He was gracious and offered his advice freely.
Today, I reminded him of that conversation (he didn’t remember) and he offered to take a picture with me.
It’s the one which accompanies this piece.
So at the spur of the moment, I went to a college basketball game.
Coming home just a while ago, I had a storyline and a memory too.