Funny Faa stories
by Jim Hague
follow him on twitter @ogsmar
OK, the one thing that has acted as healing and catharsis over the last two days has been the laughter I’ve shared with so many others since the passing of “The Faa” on Tuesday.
Incredibly, I’ve received over 100 phone calls and 250 e-mails since Tuesday, all offering condolences, thoughts, prayers and more importantly, laughs about the Faa.
“If you bring up his name, chances are they have a ‘Faa’ story, whether it’s serious or funny,” said former Major League closer Joe Borowski, now doing pre-game and post-game commentary for the Arizona Diamondbacks. “Everyone had one.”
It was Faa who signed Borowski to his first contract with the Chicago White Sox back in 1989.
“Everyone I know has an Eddie Ford story,” said George Blaney, the assistant coach at national champion UConn, who gave the Faa his first paying coaching job as the freshman basketball coach at Hudson Catholic in the 1960s. “If someone met him, they remembered him and they had a story.”
Well, over the last 35 years, I have a host of ”Faa” stories and I just thought I’d share a few today.
My favorite took place in June, 1995. He called me at 7:10 AM on a Sunday morning. Back then, my Saturday nights didn’t end until around 4 AM, so this was definitely an early call.
“Get up,” he said.
“Faa, what in the world could you want at 7 a.m. on a Sunday?” I asked.
“Get up and come outside now.”
I asked where he was. He was at the pay phone across the street from my house on Kennedy Blvd. I looked out the window. Sure enough, there he was.
“I have something to show you,” Faa said.
So I threw some clothes on, headed outside, and exclaimed, “What could you have to show me at 7 a.m. on a Sunday?”
He just said, ”Look.”
Inside his car, strapped to the passenger seat with the seat belt, was the Stanley Cup.
Yes, Lord Stanley’s piece of hardware, the world’s most famous trophy, was sitting on the front seat of the Faa’s car.
Apparently, Tommy Shine, another dear friend of the Faa, who worked for the Devils at the time, was intrusted with caring for the Cup after the Devils won the trophy the night before. “Shiner” was supposed to bring the Cup to the Big Apple Sports Palace in Bayonne on Sunday at noon, where Devils Cup MVP Claude Lemieux was going to appear.
But in Shiner’s exuberance and obvious intoxication, he left Lord Stanley’s hardware in the back of Dohoney’s. The Faa woke up to open the bar on Sunday morning and found it sitting there, so he decided that the best thing he could do was tool around Jersey City with the Stanley Cup.
And the first person he decides to show it to was his hungover buddy who is a Rangers fan.
Now, the plot gets better. Apparently, Faa took the Stanley Cup and gave it a tour of Jersey City. He pulled people over on Kennedy Boulevard to show them what he had and got out of the car to let them pose for pictures with it, touch it. People he didn’t even know. He was showing them the world’s most famous trophy in his hometown.
But in that era of no cell phone communication, Shiner was frantic when he woke up and headed to Dohoney’s thinking he lost the Stanley Cup. Let’s face it, the trophy now has two white-gloved bodyguards who take it in and out of a case. Here’s Faa driving around with it as a tour guest.
Shiner had no idea where it was until Faa brought it back in time for the appearance at the Big Apple. It remains my favorite funny Faa story.
There are little quips that always remain solid in my head:
“Something stinks in Denmark and it ain’t the cheese.”
“Pass the mustard, because here comes the bologna.”
“I was born on a day, but it wasn’t yesterday.”
I was constantly the brunt of his jokes, both in print and on television.
In print, after I had a ridiculous permanent, he put in his column that I looked like a ”six-foot-five Chiapet.” I was mad because I’m 6-8.
Another time, he said that I was spotted coming out of a bar called Excalibur in Hoboken. At first, I didn’t know why that was so newsworthy to him. It wasn’t big news if I was coming out of a bar. But a few days later, my friends in Hoboken pointed out that Excalibur was a gay bar. I had no idea.
Another time, he said in print that things were going so bad for the Mets that I was spotted walking down West Side Ave. with a Yankee hat on. I demanded a retraction for that one, because other than wearing a Tierney’s Tavern Yankee hat in Greenville American Little League (didn’t count, because the colors were red and white), the only time I ever wore a Yankee hat anywhere was because of the Faa as well.
When the Mets played the Yankees in the 2000 World Series, I made a bet with the Faa. If the Mets won the Series, he had to wear a Met hat in his column head in the Jersey Journal. If the Yankees won, I had to wear a Yankee hat in my picture in the paper.
Well, we all know who won. I posed for the picture wearing a Yankee hat and two Yankee stickers on my cheeks. The picture appeared with my column for a month, then I had to take it down in total disgrace.
One time, we both appeared on a cable television show, hosted by our mutual friendBruce Sabatini on Cablevision of Hudson County in Union City. Bruce wanted us to talk about the upcoming baseball season, both major leagues and local. It wasn’t the first time Faa and I were on some cable show together.
But this time, I made the mistake of telling the Faa that I met someone at a convention in Kansas City and that I was going to see her in Seattle.
The show begins taping and Bruce says, “OK, let’s talk about the AL East race.”
Faa says, “No, let’s talk about Cindy Fester.”
I just put my head down, saying, “Oh, no.”
I also recalled an incident with the late Sister Mary Alan of St. Anthony.
It was 1988 and there was a meeting about St. Anthony leaving the HCIAA at Bayonne High School. At this meeting, Sister Alan blamed me personally for the fight between St. Anthony and Ferris, saying that I played up the rivalry by writing about all the off-the-court antics that were going on, like someone actually gaining access to the school and putting feces all over the statue of St. Anthony. As disgusting as that sounds, someone did do that and it appeared to be of the human variety.
Anyway, after that meeting at Bayonne, the Faa came to my defense and asked Sister Alan one question.
“Am I talking to Sister Alan the nun or Sister Alan, the athletic director?” he asked.
She replied, “I hope you’re talking to Sister Alan, the AD.”
“Good, that’s what I hoped you would say. Well then F**K YOU!”
Only the Faa, only the Faa.
I’ll close today with a story I got yesterday from Faa’s good friend and basketball starMike O’Koren. As you may know, Faa was very instrumental in helping O’Koren go to the University of North Carolina, a place he loved dearly, especially his long-standing friendship and relationship with the legendary Dean Smith.
O’Koren tells me yesterday that he remembered playing in his first Blue-White scrimmage at Carolina as a freshman and the Faa was refereeing the game.
“Coach Smith was sitting in the middle of the gym at the scorer’s table and not coaching us,” O’Koren recalled of this game in October of 1976. “Coach (Bill) Guthridge had one team and Coach (Eddie) Fogler had the other. As the game is going on, Faa calls traveling on me. Coach Smith yells out that it was a bad call and Faa yells back, ‘Don’t make me T-you up.'”
He threatened to give the legendary Smith a technical foul in a game he wasn’t even coaching. Hey, it’s the same Faa who had a cheerleader ejected from a game once.
Smith didn’t miss a beat.
“That’s OK, Eddie,” Smith said. “I’ll just keep your plane ticket back to New Jersey.”
“It was classic Faa,” O’Koren said yesterday.”
Just a few of the thousands of Faa stories that are coming out as his legacy grows and grows.
A reminder that the wake for Edward Ford will be held Friday at McLauglin’s Funeral Home in Jersey City behind the Journal Square Station around the corner from the Stanley Theater. The time for the wake is 2-9 p.m. at McLaughlin’s.
The funeral mass will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Aloysius Church near Lincoln Park, just a stone’s throw away from Dohoney’s.
Let’s all get together this weekend and give our friend the send-off he truly deserves.
You can read more of my work at http://www.hudsonreporter.com, http://www.theobserver.com and http://www.dailyrecord.com. My full obituary and tribute to the Faa will appear in the The Hudson Reporter online Sunday.