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After Further Review
My Life Including the Infamous, Controversial, and Unforgettable Calls That Changed the NFL
By Mike Pereira, Rick Jaffe
Triumph Books LLCCopyright © 2016 Mike Pereira and Rick Jaffe
All rights reserved.
The Value of a Quarter
"You're not worth the quarter it takes to buy a Coke."
Remember those words, folks. Because while it might sound like the lyrics to a country song, that phrase became the driving, motivational force in my life and just might be the key reason for many of the successes I've had. However, you might be a little surprised to find out that the source of those words came from a most unlikely place — my dad.
Before you judge, you have to know a little about my dad, one Amaro Louis (Al) Pereira.
I doubt that there has ever been a father that has had more influence on a son than my dad. Why? Maybe it was because he was never afforded the opportunities that he was able to provide me with when I was growing up. He came to America on a boat from the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal at the age of two. He grew up on a real dairy farm, where he would milk cows both in the morning before school and in the evening when he got home.
But my dad was quite an athlete, too. He could really play, but because of his daily chores, he never really had time to pursue playing high school sports.
He and his family went through the Great Depression, and they lost everything. I mean everything. All they ended up with was their car, their belongings, and $10,000 in debt. It was interesting in those days; my dad's father had to work off all the debt. There was no way this immigrant from Portugal was going to declare bankruptcy, so he learned valuable lessons from his father when he was young.
I truly believe that he wanted to give me the chances that he'd never had. But my dad did get to go away to college, to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, better known as Cal Poly SLO. There, he played baseball, and I remember people saying he was a very good player. He continued playing baseball and softball afterward in Stockton, California. That's where I grew up as a child, and I recall watching his every move as a third baseman in fast-pitch softball. To this day, he might have been the biggest jock I've ever seen.
Not only was he a big fan of mine, he was a big fan of just about anything to do with sports. We always used to laugh and say if there wasn't a baseball game, a basketball game, or a football game to watch, my dad would find out where the nearest tiddlywinks match was just so he could watch somebody playing something. I'm joking, but it gives you an idea of how big a sports fan he was.
* * *
He relished watching me get into sports, but my entry into the sports world was not all that spectacular. Ironically, my athletic career had nothing to do with football, though I did give it a shot.
As a high school sophomore, I was a lanky 140 pounds — and that was with weights in both hands. Lanky was one of those unflattering words they used back in the '70s for tall and skinny. The first day of football tryouts, some kid who was about 30 pounds heavier than I was gave me a vicious shot — at least in my mind it was vicious — to the hip. I think I was trying out as a wide receiver, and after catching a pass, the hit was one of those bone-crushing kind of hits that you see in those car commercials where they use crash dummies. I was one and done, as in one day and I'm finished with football and ready to move on.
The next day I was in the gym shooting free throws. While I never played football, which makes where I ended up rather amazing, I did play basketball and baseball, and that piqued much of my dad's interest in me. He was always in the stands when I played, whether it was in Little League in the Hoover Tyler Youth Baseball program in Stockton or my games at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School.
Then in 1968, it was off to college at the University of Santa Clara. Believe it or not, I actually received a scholarship to play both basketball and baseball there. I'm still not sure what my dad had to do with it exactly, but I suspect it was something, because the basketball coach, Dick Garibaldi, and he were good friends. Of course, it could have been that Santa Clara sent a football coach, Bill McPherson, to scout me to play baseball.
Or maybe it was really Dusty Baker who was responsible for me getting that scholarship. Yes, that Dusty Baker, the very successful 19-year major leaguer and 20-year manager Dusty Baker who is now managing the Washington Nationals.
Baker was a great high school baseball player at Del Campo High School in Sacramento and he was highly recruited by a lot of schools, including Santa Clara. Baker even signed a letter of intent to attend Santa Clara on a full scholarship. Fortunately for me, Baker also happened to be drafted by the Atlanta Braves and he eventually chose professional baseball over college.
As the saying goes ... when one door closes, another one opens. Who cares if it was the back door I was walking through now that Santa Clara had one last scholarship available? I think they divided up Baker's scholarship eight ways and I got one-eighth. All I cared about was that I was in.
I took a shot at basketball first. But I was still a runt, the skinniest guy on the team, and I quickly saw that my future in basketball was going to be very limited. Let me put it in perspective for you: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson would not have been threatened by my basketball prowess. At the time, Santa Clara had a pretty good freshman team. We had a 15-man team, and my toughest job each game was finding where the 15 chair was going to be located on the floor because that's where I'd be sitting.
That was a pretty good indication that my future was not in basketball, either. I was such a perceptive young man. So I turned to baseball and actually did pretty well. So much so that I thought I might have a shot at a career in professional baseball.
* * *
Before I continue, I must tell you the "quarter story."
In any relationship between a father and son, certain things are said or done that shape you as an individual. Before going to Santa Clara, I played American Legion baseball. I was 15 years old and played for the Karl Ross team in Stockton. I remember one game against a team from Lodi, California, like it was yesterday.
Picture this: Lawrence Stadium in Lodi, in June, just the beginning of summer. Yet it was unbelievably hot: 104 degrees in the shade. It was the kind of hot that would have burned the back of your legs when they hit the leather seats in your car.
The heat was so stifling, you could barely breathe when you walked, let alone run. In fact, I think the devil actually vacations in Lodi during the summer, but I digress. I was a first baseman at the time, and I probably had one of my worst games ever that day: I went 0-for-4 and made two errors, and we lost.
I was dehydrated, parched, and simply wiped out at the end of the game; it was a real day to forget. Afterward, I remember walking up to my dad and telling him I was really thirsty. I asked if he would buy me a Coke. He looked at me and, without hesitation, said those fateful words: "You're not worth the quarter it takes to buy a Coke."
That's what my father, my No. 1 fan, said to me. "You're not worth the quarter it takes to buy a Coke."
Suddenly, a day to forget became one I'd always remember. I don't think he really understood how much that hurt me. My mother, Lydia, who was also there, knew. She wanted to whack him, because she could see the look on my face and how much it stung. Make no mistake, the words cut through me like a sharp knife slides through butter.
Those words truly would become a big part of what defined my life.
They made me want to be good at something — to be great at something, to stand out at something — just to prove my dad wrong. I was going to show him that I was worth more than a quarter it took to buy a Coke. I didn't know what it was going to be at the time, but I knew I needed to find it. So I concentrated on baseball.
But I didn't get off to such a great start my freshman year at Santa Clara. I was a weak-hitting first baseman, with a nickname of Chicks.
Why Chicks? Because my teammates said I had bird legs. I used to tell them that my legs were built for speed, not strength. My batting average was around .200 my first season, not something Hall of Fame careers are built on. But Santa Clara would send guys to play summer baseball in semipro leagues and I got sent to Springfield, Oregon, in the summer of 1969. I was assigned to play for the Pitchford Mac Bulldogs. Thank heavens Eugene was close by, because the big hangout in Springfield might have been the Dairy Queen.
Jim Dietz was the coach of the Bulldogs and also coached the Oregon JV team. Dietz would go on to become a very successful head coach at San Diego State from 1972 to 2002.
Coach Dietz wasn't one of those "players' coaches" you hear so much about today. In fact, I can't recall any player that actually liked him. He was the kind of coach that would check our garbage cans to make sure he didn't find any beer containers.
I know we were underage, but it was summertime, for gosh sakes. For all I know, the beer might have made me a better hitter. I can tell you that it couldn't have hurt, because I didn't seem to be much better at summer baseball.
The sad part is, I could run, I could bunt, I could throw, and I could chase down pop-ups like you wouldn't believe. But a left-handed hitter who can't hit? That's like saying you have a 280-pound fullback who can't score from the 1-yard line. And if you're not a pitcher, you don't need to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that not being able to hit is not good.
Then came the miracle. I went back to Santa Clara and all of a sudden, I started to develop. I was 19, and I don't know why, but I gained weight. I didn't lift weights, mind you, but there was a proposal at one point for me to be part of a weight program.
One day, a guy from Lodi came by to talk to my dad and told him that I had great natural ability and he wanted to work me out and give me Dianabol. That's right; he said "great natural ability." Was he at the right address?
His name was Lee Allerdice and he was a fitness instructor at the YMCA. And I didn't know it at the time, but I learned later that Dianabol was a steroid. My dad told Allerdice no dice, and that was a good thing because I certainly had no desire to take steroids or get involved with a weight regimen.
When you've got a body like Adonis, why bother? In all seriousness, I'm not sure why I started putting the pounds on and gaining strength, but I did.
In my sophomore year at Santa Clara, they moved me to center field because our center fielder was slow. But on the flip side, he could hit the ball a mile and he was also a left-handed hitter. His name was Bruce Bochte, and he ended up playing for 12 years in the majors with four teams — the Angels, Indians, Mariners, and A's.
So with that switch, I ended up playing center field the rest of my career, and I think I played pretty decently. My teammates played pretty well, too. In 1970 we went down to the University of Southern California to play in the District 8 finals. We were playing powerhouse USC in a best-of-three showdown for the right to go to Omaha and the College World Series. However, we got blown out in the first two games, and that was it.
The very next season, we ended up playing USC again in the District 8 finals. We actually won the first game, but then USC beat us like a drum in the final two. You know, drums were always a staple of those great Southern California marching bands.
After we lost to USC the first time during my sophomore year, a guy by the name of Paul Deese, who was the summer coach of the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, came up to me and offered me an opportunity to play in Alaska. I bet you didn't even know they played baseball in Alaska. Why in God's name would they?
Somebody up there must have thought it was a good idea, because they've been playing baseball there since the 19 century.
But I knew guys from Santa Clara who had gone there, and when I told them I had gotten an offer, they told me I'd be nuts if I didn't go. I had been up there before because we had a great road trip to Alaska when I played for the Pitchford Mac Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs played four games in Fairbanks against a team called the Gold Panners and four games against the Glacier Pilots. I still remember a funny thing that happened when we played Anchorage.
The catcher for the Pilots was a guy by the name of Jim Caviglia. He also played for Santa Clara and was from Stockton as well. I've already spoken about my prowess in the batter's box, so you can only imagine what's coming next.
I was facing off against Craig Swan, who ended up having a 12-year major-league career with the New York Mets and California Angels. He was a great pitcher who had a fastball that clocked in around 95 miles per hour. That was faster than most of the cars in Anchorage.
So I was choking up on the bat and trying to concentrate because I already knew I had no chance in hell of getting a hit. Right before each pitch, Caviglia would flash the signals to Swan and then lean in and whisper to me, "fastball" or "curveball." He literally called every pitch for me the entire game. I knew what was coming but still never touched the ball. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was Oh-for-Alaska on that trip.
While that visit was disastrous, I eventually played well in Alaska, enjoying my four seasons up there (1970–73). A few of you might drop this book after reading the next paragraph, but it's absolutely true.
I was one of the first players inducted into the Anchorage Glacier Pilots Hall of Fame. And, I still hold five records (most career walks, most career games played, most career hits, most career runs scored, most career stolen bases) and I'm second in another category (most career at-bats).
In reality, it probably had less to do with my ability and more to do with my longevity. Everybody who played up there was so good that they usually signed a professional contract after one year — or two at the most.
Longevity is usually a good thing in just about any other thing in life, just not so much for playing baseball in Anchorage. And even though I thought I had a shot at doing something at which I could be great, I soon realized that nothing great was going to happen for me in baseball.
No, baseball would not be the answer for how I was going to prove my dad wrong.
So how did I get interested in officiating? Let's go back to my junior year at Santa Clara. Ready for the great epiphany? It had to do with two things — money and beer — and while I'm not saying those things were the only reasons, let's just say they were motivating factors at the time.
My family wasn't hurting for money, but they certainly weren't going to give me any dough to buy beer. My buddies would go out, yet I didn't have any money to join the party.
But one day in 1971, Tommy Ichishita, who was a high school football official, told me that I could officiate Pop Warner foot-ball games in East Palo Alto on Sundays. He assigned officials for games and told me that I would get three games at $10 apiece for a grand total of $30 in cold, hard cash. Done and done. That would certainly be more than enough beer money for the week.
I can't lie; I was intrigued, and not just because of the beer money. It's because the guy who told me I wasn't worth the quarter it took to buy a Coke was also an official. I thought maybe I could beat him at his own game.
Remember, I told you that my dad always came to my games, watching every depressing swing of the bat and every awful free-throw attempt. Well, in return, I used to go watch him officiate during the football season. It wasn't like I was very busy during that time of year. I learned the game of football without really playing the sport to any degree.
I learned it through the eyes of an official. I learned it through the eyes of my father.
He was good, really good. He officiated for 34 years and made it to major college football in a league that was called the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA). At the time, it included schools such as San Jose State, Fresno State, Long Beach State, and the University of Pacific to name a few. He also got a sniff of officiating in the Pac-8 conference, but he only got to work some scrimmages and never actually made it. He had a good career and worked a couple bowl games.
So I knew when Ichishita asked me to officiate those games in East Palo Alto at Ravenswood High School, it didn't bother me that it was in a very tough neighborhood; I was all-in. And even though I never had any desire to follow in my dad's footsteps, I ended up doing just that.
I remember putting on my uniform to go to work in my first Pop Warner game and looking in the mirror. I thought I looked ridiculous. Before I left, I studied the rules and learned the basic concepts of the game and of officiating. However, these were just 10- to 12-year-olds playing in these games. I didn't think you had to be a master of where to spot the football after a penalty. I thought I would learn the basics to get by, and for $30, why not?
Excerpted from After Further Review by Mike Pereira, Rick Jaffe. Copyright © 2016 Mike Pereira and Rick Jaffe. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
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