A lot of coaches will tell you that the name on the front of the shirt is a lot more important than the name on the back. I agree with that with the exception of this shirt (which was donated from the Saint John’s baseball coach, Charlie Eppinger…thanks again!).
Today is Greg Montalbano’s birthday and it has been just over a year since he passed away from cancer. Although I was closest to Greg when we were both at St. John’s (sharing rides and playing street hockey games), there are three days I will never forget when I think about Greg.
The first was when my mother told me about his diagnosis. I didn’t want to believe it, and couldn’t believe that two students at the same school would get diagnosed with the same kind of cancer (mine was a brain tumor but was made up of the same kind of cells as testicular cancer, proving beyond any doubts that I was a dickhead, ha ha). I sent Greg a card and offered some advice and positive thoughts, and told him I was there for him if he needed someone to talk to.
The second was the day I was waiting outside of Fenway for my roommate Amy. When she walked up to me, she had a huge smile on her face. She told me she had a message from my mother. When I heard her say that Greg had been drafted by the Red Sox, her smile was transferred to my face and multiplied by about 50. I was so happy for Greg and already picturing the day I could walk into Fenway to see him pitch.
Later that year, I was dating a girl who went to Northeastern. One night, when I was walking with her on campus I heard someone say “Hey, Dave!”. Not expecting to run into anyone I knew, I politely said “Hi” back, but still wasn’t sure who it could be. Greg gave me a huge smile, and everything clicked. I felt so proud telling this girl all about Greg and how I knew him, not really caring but still hoping she was impressed.
I feel lucky to be able to write these stories about Greg and honored to be wearing this shirt today. Happy Birthday, Greg. The stories from your life and the lives you touched are things that will always be remembered and shared. Thank you for all the inspiration…
For other Greg-related blogs, you can see: