“The 7 Questions” is a new sports questionnaire — the Eephus way of catching a snapshot of the fan’s life. From writers to artists and beyond, we bring you answers every Monday morning.
Today, we get the answers from Eddie Joyce, the author of the novel Small Mercies. He was born and raised on Staten Island and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three daughters. He is working on his second novel.
1. When was the last time sports made you cry?
I am a bit of a waterworks in general, all the more so when it comes to sports. So it’s entirely possible I got misty-eyed in the past few weeks while watching American Ninja Warrior with my daughters. But I don’t think that counts. I definitely got verklempt at the end of this year’s NCAA championship game between UNC and Villanova. I’m not a fan of either team but it was such an unbelievable, heart-breaking ending and both teams had a significant number of upperclassmen. College basketball is near and dear to my heart, even in its present diluted state. When you watch someone lose (or even win) their last meaningful game? That always gets me. And if the game itself didn’t do it, I’m sure “One Shining Moment” finished the job.
2. What’s your most treasured piece of sports apparel or memorabilia?
I am not a big memorabilia guy. I’ve kept a few odds and ends: a ticket stub from Super Bowl 46, my reversible practice jersey from JV hoops in college, a Dave Winfield baseball card.
But the most meaningful piece of apparel is probably a Jerome Bettis jersey that my friend Sal Dogs inexplicably gave me as a gift years ago. I wasn’t a Steelers fan and the jersey was two sizes too small. Still, for some reason, I held onto it. A decade later, I went on a date with a woman from a small steel town in Pennsylvania. A die-hard Steelers fan. As a gag, I gave her the jersey on our second date. She still has it and she plans to pass it on to one of our daughters.
3. Competed in any sports lately, at any level?
I play in a Monday night basketball run. Depending on who shows up on a given week, the run ranges from fairly competitive to ‘just getting a sweat, hoping not to get hurt.’ Lately, we’ve had a crew of guys in their twenties showing up and it’s been more of the former. I’ve always had an old man’s game — lots of head fakes, almost no jumping — so I can still hold my own but it aggravates me that I can’t do certain things that used to be second nature. A few months ago, I told my wife that I’d probably bought my last pair of basketball kicks. She gently reminded me that I said the same thing five years ago.
4. What’s your desert island sports movie or book?
Book: Breaks of the Game, by David Halberstam.
Movie: Sports movies are, by their nature, sappy and sentimental. I’ll probably have enough reason to cry, stuck there on my desert island. So I’m going to bend the rules the tiniest bit and say The Big Lebowski or Caddyshack. I’ll need some laughs.
5. What do you like to eat and drink while you watch sports?
Pretty standard: cold beer, good pizza. If I’m at a bar during a football game (a rarity these days), then buffalo wings and nachos.
I do love a good tailgate. Tailgating is a uniquely American phenomenon. When you try to explain it to someone from a different country, you realize how ridiculous it sounds: we’re going to stand around in the parking lot for four or five hours before the game, drinking and grilling and throwing a football around. I don’t care. I love it. I’ve been going to New York Giants games with the same extended group of guys for almost twenty years. We used to tailgate before almost every game but now we’re down to one huge tailgate a season. We all have young kids. Hopefully in a few years, we can bring the kids into the fold and rekindle the tradition.
6. What’s the greatest length you’ve gone to watch or attend a game?
In 2003, a good buddy and I had a bit of a lost weekend. We had a wedding on Friday night on Long Island, a wedding on Saturday in Washington D.C., and the Giants home opener back in the Meadowlands at 1 p.m. on Sunday. At the time, we were both single. We got back to his apartment from the Friday wedding at 4 a.m., drove down to D.C. for the other wedding the next afternoon, nearly started a brawl with some teamsters at the after party back at the hotel, finally got to bed around 3 a.m. We woke up at 6 on Sunday in terrible shape but still drove back to Jersey so we could tailgate before the game. If I did that now, it would kill me. Weirdly, we never considered skipping the Giants game though we did (briefly) think about missing the wedding in D.C.
7. Ever caught a foul ball?
I never caught a foul ball myself. But at the very first baseball game I ever attended, my father caught one. We were sitting in the upper deck at the old Yankees Stadium. Yankees were playing the Royals. Don Slaught, the Royals’ catcher, fouled a ball up towards us. My father, who is not much of a sports fan, was reading a book. Someone in our group said, “Joe, the ball is coming towards you.” He put his book down, stood up, caught the ball, flipped it to me, and went back to his book. I was seven. I haven’t come close since.