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The four of them pile into a hotel suite. Pat opens a few bottles of Screaming Eagle, a cabernet they love. Lis gives them matching red-and-black-checked pajamas, so Pat and Chris put them on and all four curl up to watch movies, like they did when the kids were young.
Outside, the snow comes down. Chris holds Lis on the couch, while Pat and his son-in-law sit on sofas on either side, all eight feet on the same ottoman. In the hotel suite, Pat thinks about game days when the kids were growing up.
It's funny what comes back when you're scared. Chris would keep the children occupied so he could nap, and then he'd get up and come down to the big center landing and whistle.
He can really whistle -- once he randomly saw Magic Johnson walking down a beach in the Bahamas and hid behind a dune and let out a loud one, watching the star jump and swivel -- and when he whistled for his kids, he'd yell, "Triple kisses!
Sitting on a couch, wondering if his daughter might have lymphoma, he remembers triple kisses. Sliding back, his own wedding, the yellow Nba magazine article he drove when he met Chris, the last time he spoke to his father, his bench-warming in the pros, everybody's All-American at Kentucky, back to the streets of Schenectady, New York.
He can smell the high school gymnasium. Maybe it was his senior year. He drove the lane and thought he'd been fouled. When the referee called a charge, he turned and headed the other way. The gym got murmuring and tense, and Riley didn't see his father running drunk onto the court -- exactly like the scene in Hoosiers, he'd tell people years later, on the rare occasion when he'd share the story -- and going after the ref.
Lee Riley had been a baseball player and often blamed people for his unrealized dreams, including this particular official, who'd umpired the minor league games he managed. Pat didn't even know his dad was at the game, Lee having hidden beneath the bleachers, and Pat saw his beloved high school coach, Walt Przybylo, take charge and escort Lee off the court so the game could resume.
Riley adored Walt, later hiring one of his sons as a scout for the Heat. While Pat tried to sleep, Walt sat up all night gently soaking his feet, an act almost biblical in its devotion. Lee and Mary Riley did not come to the game.
They never saw him play a single time in college or the NBA. They never explained why. Lee played for 17 minor league teams in 16 seasons and quit in to work in a factory during the war. A year later, the Phillies offered him a major league contract, and for four glorious games, he was delivered this miracle of a second chance.
He got one hit in 12 at-bats, on April 30, The next day the organization bought a minor league team in upstate New York and sent Lee to play for it.
Pat was born 10 months later. Inwhen Lee was managing a minor league club, he got suspended 90 days for stalling during a game. He quit professional baseball.
When he got home, he burned all his gear and memorabilia and rarely spoke of those lost years. Inhe died, leaving many things unsaid. He remembers it as a dark place, loud with unspoken words.
The Rileys didn't talk about anything. Pat had a sister die in infancy 10 years before he was born, according to a book about World War II baseball, which dedicated a section to Lee Riley.Your ESPN The Magazine subscription delivers insight and analysis from the best writers in the industry: Buster Olney, Mel Kiper Jr.
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