Sigmund Stanislaus Sakowicz would have loved what transpired in Foxboro, Mass., on Sunday.
Sig Sakowicz was a popular radio personality in Chicago at WGN (and a bunch of other stations) — they even named a street for him back there — before moving to Las Vegas. Sig, a big man with a kind heart, hosted a talk show on KLAV 1230-AM. He died here in 2004 when he was 80.
When I was a youngster, I had a novelty 45-rpm record he had made called “Polish Baseball Power.” It didn’t sell quite as many copies as “She Loves You” or even “Come on Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son.
The concept behind the record was a dream Sig supposedly had where every player on the baseball diamond was of Polish ancestry. Dick Tracewski and Ted Kluszewski were in the lineup and Moe Drabowsky, as I recall, was warming up in the bullpen; the chorus mentioned “Yastrzemski hitting the ball far over the right-field wall,” or something to that effect.
The record was pressed on a generic yellow label. Mishawaka Records. Sometimes I forget my wedding anniversary, but I remember the generic yellow label of Mishawaka Records with astounding clarity.
Sig called the newspaper office once to introduce himself, and he got a big kick when I started singing the lyrics to “Polish Baseball Power,” a copy of which made it all the way to the Hall of Fame. (Stan Musial’s plaque is said to be a little more popular among the Polish exhibits in Cooperstown.)
On Monday, you could still get a copy of “Polish Baseball Power” on the Internet for $12.60. I also found a picture on eBay of Sig interviewing George Carlin in Las Vegas during Carlin’s “Hippy Dippy Weatherman” days. You could “buy it now” for $9.99.
Anyway, the football version of Sig Sakowicz’s Polish baseball dream happened for real on the football field during Sunday’s Raiders-Patriots game.
No, not every player between the 20s and in the red zone had a Polish surname.
But every player who scored did.
— In the first quarter, Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 49-yard field goal for Oakland.
— In the second quarter, Rob Gronkowski caught a 4-yard touchdown pass for New England. Stephen Gostkowski kicked the extra point.
— On the last play before halftime, Gostkowski kicked a 21-yard field goal.
— Early in the third quarter, Janikowski kicked a 37-yard field goal. Later in the third, he kicked another from 47 yards,
— In the fourth quarter, Gostkowski closed the scoring with field goals of 20 and 36 yards.
A touchdown, an extra point, six field goals. Twenty-five points. Every one tallied by a “Ski.”
A colleague thought I should be the one to point that out. He must have had his reasons.
John Petkus of the Konsulat Honorowy Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej w Las Vegas — Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Las Vegas — said the Polish embassy in Washington, D.C. also pointed it out, on its Facebook page.
Petkus said Janikowski, Gronkowski and Gostkowski made him proud to be Polish, and Yaz was pretty good, too, but that his favorite athlete still is Gordie Howe, because Petkus is from Detroit.
There was a commotion in church at the Polish mass at Our Lady of Las Vegas on Sunday, Petkus said — not because of what Janikowski and Gronkowski and Gostkowski were doing on the football field, but because of what the Polish men’s team was doing on the court at the World Volleyball Championships on their home turf in Katowice.
The Poles beat mighty Brazil in the final, and Petkus said you could see cellphones and other mobile devices light up in the pews when the score was final. Poland also beat Russia in the semifinals. That was pretty big, too, because Poland and Russia have — how would you put it? — a bit of a historical rivalry that goes back to the Middle Ages.
The volleyball championship was a bigger deal than the guys with Polish surnames scoring all the points in Foxboro, John Petkus said. It was probably even a bigger deal than Carl Yastrzemski hitting the ball fall over right-field wall in Sig Sakowicz’s wildest dreams.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski