By Clark DeLeon

“You’re not going to write about what it’s like to sit next to a loud, overbearing, emotional father watching his son play at the Spectrum, are you?” shouted Bill Gabrielsen, the loud, overbearing, emotional father sitting – but mostly standing – in the seat next to mine yesterday afternoon at the Spectrum not long after his son Scott – “That’s him . . . Number Six” scored the first goal in the Philadelphia Wings’ 14-9 victory over the Baltimore Thunder of the indoor professional lacrosse league.

Would I violate a sacred trust?

“Did you see that? God, I love this. This is what it’s all about. Isn’t this great? You’re not going to write about this, are you?”

If only to get even.

Actually, it was a pleasure to be witness to a father’s joy in his son’s accomplishments.

Even if his son’s accomplishments involve hostile interpersonal problem- solving techniques of the sort that judges in some jurisdictions reward with five to ten. Hard time.

This is not to suggest that indoor lacrosse is a violent game. It is an honest, rugged contact sport played by men who give as good as they get. In other words, they accept a shot to the chops with a two-by-four as a fine how- do-you-do. Of course, after that things can get rough.

Lacrosse, as you know, is a French word for a native American game known in the Iroquois tongue as “Tomahawk Tag – and you’re it!” Indoor lacrosse as played in South Philadelphia has taken on a subtle neighborhood flavor that might be translated as, “Yo Vinnie! You gonna do sumthin’ widdat tomahawk, or what?”

Take Lou Delligatti, for instance. Or “Louuuuuuuuu!” as he is hailed by the Spectrum faithful. (Ever notice that Philadelphia sports fans inevitably adopt favorite players whose names rhyme with “Boo”?) At 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, Delligatti looks bigger and slower than anyone on the floor, and a large knee brace adds to his overall look, which is what genetic biologists might imagine would be the issue from the successful mating of a rhino with a ’55 Buick Roadmaster.

Anyway, the first time Delligatti comes off the bench in the first half, he immediately gets the ball and proceeds to rush toward the Baltimore goal like a man in a hurry to make a bank deposit. The Baltimore bank guards shot him, stabbed him and whacked him about the head and shoulders, and all the while Delligatti was cradling the ball with an attitude that seemed to say, “Look! I only got 20 minutes for lunch” before he deposited the ball in the net in a move that was more Godzilla than Gretzky.

The professional indoor lacrosse league pays its players as much as $200 a game. (“But it’s the Spectrum!” Papa Gabrielsen reminds me.) The players have to work other jobs to earn a living, but, hey, money’s not the point. If it were, they wouldn’t be lacrosse players.

Still, when that spotlight goes on the team members as they are introduced on the green artificial turf that requires repairs by tape rather than Zamboni, when more than 12,000 fans are making that “RAHHHHHhhhhh!” sound in your ears . . . well, if that ain’t big time, then what is?

“You know, I still get choked up when I hear his name being introduced,” the old man said.

Don’t worry, pal. It’s our little secret.

(Philadelphia Inquirer, February 13, 1989)

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