During the coronavirus pandemic, Peter Schwartz has been going through his collection of ticket stubs from games and other events. This is one in a series about some of the games and events that have an interesting story.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of the word “destiny” is “something to which a person or thing is destined” or “a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency.”
Destiny is not something I necessarily believed in growing up and actually I probably didn’t really know what it meant for until I was older. In fact, I truly believe that destiny has played a huge role in my life.
My wife Sheryl and I both graduated from East Meadow High School on Long Island in 1985 and while we knew each other, we didn’t have a close relationship. Fast forward to 1995 and we danced at our ten-year high school reunion. We had a great time talking and she told me where she worked but I had cold feet and didn’t go to see her. Seven years after that, I was walking into Shea Stadium in 2002 to cover a Mets game and I hear someone say “Peter? Peter Schwartz?
Yada Yada Yada…we were married two years later, 19 years after we graduated high school. We have two sons and this August we will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary.
And now for another example of destiny and one that involves sports and a really weird foundation of a friendship.
Let’s go back to 1985 when I was a freshman at Buffalo State College. There are a number of reasons why I chose Buffalo State with the most important reasons being a strong broadcasting program, being just an hour or so plane ride from home, and the fact that there were major professional sports in the Buffalo area. I was able to go to see the Jets and Islanders when they were in town and I could also make the two-hour drive to Toronto when the Yankees were north of the border.
On December 8th, 1985, I was at Rich Stadium (now New Era Field) in Orchard Park with three other people to see my Jets take on the Bills on an overcast and cold day with a temperature of 34 degrees at kickoff and 15 mile an hour winds that brought the wind chill to 24. There was also a mix of precipitation throughout the day with snow, sleet and rain and that made the walkways, ramps and stairs in the stadium slippery. The outcome was terrific as the Jets crushed the Bills 27-7 as Ken O’Brien threw three touchdown passes, two to tight end Mickey Shuler (my favorite Jet of all-time) and one to Wesley Walker. The Jets improved to 10-4 and went on to make the playoffs as an AFC Wild Card team.
Seeing the Jets win on the road was one thing but I didn’t really travel that far to see it as it was a relatively short bus ride from Buffalo State. But during the game, we struck up conversation with two guys sitting in the row behind us that had flown up to Buffalo from downstate New York that morning and were flying back home right after the game. We were all Jets fans so we had a very enjoyable afternoon.
Now to the spring of 1993 and the Islanders’ magic run in the postseason that came up just short of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. I was working for Sports Phone at the time and was covering all of the home playoff games. One night, I left the press box in between periods to visit my brother who was sitting in section 329 with the first incarnation of the boisterous group that resides in what is now section 229 although someone in the Blue and Orange Army appropriately covers the section number with a 329.
My brother introduced me to Larry, a big Islanders fan that he had met up in section 329 that season. Larry and I became friends as well and I would see him from time to time at many sporting events. We were both season ticket holders for the Jets and one day it came up in conversation about my years in college up in Buffalo. I told him that I went to each Jets game in Buffalo from 1985 to 1988 and he said that he was at the 1985 game.
“I flew up to Buffalo that morning with a friend of mine and flew back after the game,” said Larry.
My jaw dropped. It couldn’t have been him…or could it?
I told him that I sat in the upper level with three other people and that there were these two guys sitting behind us that flew up that morning and went home after the game. I added that we were a ways up in the upper deck behind the Jets sideline pretty close to midfield.
“Holy crap that was me and Jimmy,” said Larry.
Now to be honest, there was a sparse crowd of just 23,122 people at that Jets/Bills game but what are the odds? I mean what are the chances that some random guy I’m talking to at a football game in Buffalo in 1985 is the same guy my brother is sitting next to at an Islanders game eight years later and that I became really good friends with?
“Really good friends” isn’t even an appropriate description of our friendship. We’re like brothers. I’m blessed to have some special friends in my life and Larry Peim is one of them. I was the best man at his beautiful outdoor wedding on a scorching summer day in 2003 and arranged for a video, a secret that Sheryl and I did well to protect, from then Jets Head Coach Herman Edwards congratulating Larry and Susan.
A year later, Larry was in the wedding party at my wedding and now what was a friendship of chance thanks to the Jets and the Buffalo area has grown to four people. In fact, Larry and Susan have been so good to my sons Bradley and Jared that they refer to them as “Uncle Peim and Aunt Susan.”
December 8th, 1985. It was all about Ken O’Brien, Wesley Walker, Mickey Shuler and most importantly…Larry Peim.