Monday, July 20, 2015

It's Always a Celebration When The Tickets Come

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Monday, July 20, 2015

BY BILL GOUVEIA FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE                                                            

It was Friday, the end of a long and tiring work week. I was looking forward to getting home, collapsing on the couch, and catching up on all the television I missed during the week. And then watching the Sox (yes, I'm the last one) play out on the West Coast.
I drove up the driveway, not giving much thought to what could possibly be waiting there for me. It had totally slipped my mind what time of year this was. My mind was still on work, the upcoming weekend, and having my two grandsons Saturday night.


But, as I walked from my car, a familiar sensation began to slowly creep up my spine. It took me a moment to recall it, sort of the way you suddenly recognize an old friend you weren't expecting to see. And as it does every time, my step got quicker and my heart lighter as I strode up to the door and into the house.
And there it was, sitting there waiting for me. That beautiful, heavy, overstuffed large white envelope with the Priority Mail label. My eyes misted over just a bit as I picked it up, gently turning it over. With trembling hands I removed the valuable objects inside with a reverence I seldom display.
My Patriots season ticket package had arrived.
This year is my 44th as a season ticketholder of the local NFL franchise. I still remember very well the moment it began. My mom surprised me for my 16th birthday with tickets purchased from Bus-Kot Ticket Agency in Norton, run by the Yarusites family. She bought one for me and one for my grandfather, and I was over the moon.
We were in Section 1 in the north end zone of what was then Schaeffer Stadium. There were 10 games, including three preseason contests back then. They didn't come in the mail, we picked them up. The tickets had a face value of $5 each, and they looked like they had been printed by the world's first computer.
Our seats are still in the north end zone all these years later. There are still 10 games. A single game now costs more than three full seasons did back then. Each individual ticket is now a mini work of art and comes with a fancy booklet, a commemorative pin, a lanyard (we didn't even know what that was back then) and a fancy box.
My grandfather suffered a heart attack at the stadium about five years after we started going and had to stop attending. I continued to go with friends and eventually took over their seats.  After I got married, I loved taking my wife and two young boys.
When the team got really bad in the 90s, I gave up several of the seats to save money. Today, I share the remaining ones with my best friend and my grown sons. One lives in Delaware now, so it is more difficult for him to get to games. But at every single contest, I find myself sitting with at least one of my kids.
I have lasted through two different stadiums, progressing from a cold aluminum bench to a much more comfortable seat. I have watched eight different head coaches, been through four different owners, and on Sept. 10, I will cheer as a fourth World Championship banner is raised in celebration.
It is hard to comprehend the fact that four generations of my family have sat in our seats. That landmark was achieved when my grandson Will (did I mention his name is William?) came with us to a game two years ago.
Some people find it difficult to understand how sports or sports teams can be taken so seriously. How can a grown man get so excited (even though I might have exaggerated just slightly) at the mere arrival of tickets?
But I grew up going to Patriots games with my grandfather. My wife and I took our sons every week. Someday I will hand the tickets to them so they can take their children. Who knows - my great-grandchildren might someday sit in those seats.
That's not about sports. That's about family. And it's pretty damn cool.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and a true Patriots fan. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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