I know i could put this in a thread but considering my phone was ringing off the hook today with friends asking me “how i took the news” i figured i would put it here… mods feel free to move it if its overkill.
By now most of the people on this site (and probably more from the old site) know im the biggest Mike Morreale fan around… well perhaps its time i really explain why…
Almost 10 years ago I was a high school student looking to take Radio Broadcasting in College, I was doing co-op at McMaster radio learning as much as I could about the business. The time came for an end of the year project… something to show what I could do. I figured an interview would be perfect for me, since at the time I wanted to be a sportscaster of some sort.
I called Philthy McNastys and left a voicemail for Mike Morreale… asking if there was any way he could give me an interview for my assignment, not expecting to hear back I tried to figure out what else I could do in the line of sports. Then one night the phone rang at home and i answered it… The person asked for me and he said “Its Mike Morreale from the Hamilton Tiger Cats returning your call”… i was shocked… not even 24 hours later he returned my call and told me he would love to meet me at McMaster one day (this is in the middle of the 1998 season) to do my interview.
The next week Mike came down and gave me a full 30 minute interview about football, personal and everything else I could think of, but the part that most impressed me was that he didnt care to see the questions first… what started as a structured interview turned into two people talking football, and at 16 years old he treated me with the upmost respect and dignity like this interview was a national interview on CBC.
I thanked Mike for his time and told me to stop in to the restaurant and ask for him next time so we could chat. For my birthday I asked for a #18 jersey and went in to get it signed, months later Mike remembered me, asked how the interview went and as I told him it helped me get into my program of choice he congratulated me and again gave me as much time as he had to talk.
From that day forward every time I saw him he took the time to stop and talk… never too busy to say hi, ask how things were and talk football. Never too busy to sign something else I had to add to my collection, he really did treat me better then “just another fan” saying hi at the stadium.
When Mike went to Toronto he actually apologized to me, saying he was upset on how things went down and wished he could remain a Ticat forever. As much as i was mad on the outside, almost betrayed… i supported Mike even though the fans in section 29 were ready to kill me every time Toronto was in town, make no mistake, im a Ticat fan first, but this was different.
The day Mike came back was one of the best days i can remember, the press conference was to announce Matt Robichaud, DJ Flick, and the return of Mike Morreale. I remember him coming through the crowd right over to me to say “thanks for the support, i cant believe im back.”
The last 3 years has been like Mike never left, i often remind myself that he actually went to Toronto… but seeing today’s press conference was difficult for me like everyone else. I really dont get attached to players, friends tell me not to because none are bigger then the team, they’ll get traded, leave for free agency, retire. This was different, this was Mike. The guy that respects his fans and appreciates them so much he would do anything to help them out. Thats just the type of person Mike is, but most of all you could tell that it was from the heart and not fake. We’ve all had a pro athlete or celebrity shrug us off or give the impression they wanted to be somewhere else… not Mike, what you get from him is real.
I want to thank Mike for everything he did while being a Hamilton TiCat. The way you handle yourself through professional and personal turmoil, makes you an inspiration to young athletes and young people, but most of all you are 100% a class act and one of the nicest athletes I have had the pleasure to meet.
Not only am i proud to wear the #18 to every game i go to, i am proud to call you a friend.
Good Luck with whatever the rest of this year brings.