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.
2013 was a year that started out pretty well for my family and I. On January 2nd, I started a new job as the weekday overnight anchor at CBS Sports Radio and was the first voice heard when the network launched. Later that month, it was off to New Orleans and an exciting week covering Super Bowl XLVII for both CBS Sports Radio and WFAN. Also, as the calendar flipped to April, the Islanders were in contention for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I promised my son Bradley that if the Isles made it, I would try to get tickets for a playoff game, something he hadn’t been to before.
Everything was sailing along…that was until the morning of April 23rd when I got into a car accident driving home to Long Island from work.
My car was totaled but I was lucky because I didn’t get hurt and I’m here to talk, well in this case, write about it. It was a day for me that featured a spectrum of emotions. Through the overnight, I was a happy camper at work. That was because there was one particular result that put the Islanders in a position to clinch a playoff spot by securing a point in Carolina the next evening, meaning the same day as my car accident.
The Islanders were the furthest thing from my mind after the accident when I was taken in an ambulance to the hospital as a precaution. I wasn’t hurt but first responders at the scene insisted that I go get checked out because I appeared to be shaken up and I did complain that my chest was sore from the seatbelt after the impact. My wife Sheryl and my sons Bradley and Jared came to see me at the hospital and they saw that I was ok. Sheryl took the boys to school and then came back as I waited to get examined. Once all the tests came back clear, I was discharged and we went home.
When we got home, I made a bunch of important phone calls regarding the accident including one to CBS Sports Radio to tell my boss what happened and he told me to take the night off even though I really wanted to go to work to try and get back to normal. My boss was right…it was better to stay home and rest and turn the page the next day. I also then remembered that the Islanders had a chance to clinch that night so I would be able to watch the game at home.
Needing only a point to make the playoffs, the Islanders trailed 3-2 late in the third period but they scored with just 1:11 left in regulation to force overtime. The Islanders lost 4-3 in a shootout, but the point was enough to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I then told Bradley that I’ll try to get tickets to a game once they go on sale. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Islanders had announced that the playoff tickets would go on sale the day after they clinched. I never checked my emails for the announcement and obviously with everything that happened that day, I didn’t spend any time on the internet.
The next day, my wife drove me to pick up a rental car that I would be using until we purchased a new car. I was wearing an Islanders hat and the agent at the rental car company saw it and said something to the effect of “hey it’s great that they made the playoffs…did you buy tickets this morning?”
“Say what?” was my response.
I didn’t know the tickets had gone on sale and the all three home games for that first round series against the Penguins sold out quickly. After promising Bradley that I would do everything I could within reason (the secondary market prices were a bit high), the only thing that popped into my head was to e-mail a high-level Islanders executive that I was friendly with and explain what had happened. I asked if there was any chance of buying two tickets for one of the games and I didn’t care if they were in the last row.
My contact got back to me quickly, said he was sorry to hear what had happened, and said that I would be able to buy two tickets for game three on Sunday afternoon May 5th. As I said, I would have taken the last row, but they were better than that…second to last row! I furnished him with my credit card information and a few days later I went to the Islanders offices at the Coliseum to pick up the tickets. I was still just about a week removed from a bad car accident, but I was just happy that I would be able to take my son to his first Stanley Cup Playoff game.
But my wife Sheryl and I didn’t tell him right away. We actually kept it a secret until the morning of the game. He came downstairs for breakfast and my wife handed him his Islanders jersey.
“Here you’re going to need this today,” said Sheryl.
Bradley then realized that we had the tickets and he was so excited. After a split of the first two games of the series, the Islanders were set to host a playoff game for the first time in six years. We arrived at “The Barn” early since it was a noon start for NBC. Bradley and I arrived at the fan-fest and the plaza outside was electric, especially since fans had the chance to smash a car with Penguins logos on it. Also, and I didn’t know it at the time, but NBC was shooting footage of fans at the plaza area and they caught Bradley and I walking around.
Thankfully, because I didn’t remember to tape the game, a college friend of mine was watching the game on television and sent me a still shot of Bradley and I. The Islanders lost the game 5-4 in overtime and while the result wasn’t what we had hoped for, the bottom line was that it was a memorable day for Bradley as he experienced a playoff game for the first time.
We almost weren’t there that day for a number of reasons and they all centered around the car accident. Quite honestly, I was lucky to be alive and that was the most important thing. But I’m also fortunate that even though I missed out on the general public ticket sale, it all worked out and we were able to see the Islanders in the playoffs.
And now that Jared is also a huge Islanders fan, it’s his turn to see a playoff game for the first time. We couldn’t get tickets last season and since this year’s post-season is going to be in a hub city somewhere with no fans because of COVID-19, hopefully my entire family is at an Islanders playoff game in the spring of 2021.
And to also say goodbye to Nassau Coliseum before moving to the Belmont Park Arena.