June 19, 2011
The Great One is a great dad, too
By LINDA MASSARELLA, QMI Agency
LOS ANGELES -- Today is Father's Day, so what better time to talk about the coolest Canadian dad in L.A.?
That would, of course, be Wayne Gretzky.
The former Edmonton Oiler and father of five has a lot of kids in his neighbourhood wishing their own dads would be as patient and supportive and fun as he is. "He's making us look bad," joked local businessman James Williams, whose son plays in the same Pony baseball league, but on a different team, as Gretzky's fourth child, the plucky 10-year-old Tristan Wayne.
"Gretzky is always there on the sidelines, smiling and in a good mood. He's this superstar athlete, but he never second-guesses the coaches and he doesn't get in the kids' faces like we can. He's this really nice guy. And all the kids are crazy about him."
There's really nowhere that fathers can get uglier than watching their offspring make mistakes during a Little League baseball -- or pee-wee hockey -- game.
During the league playoffs two weeks ago, Williams said the baseball fathers screamed at their kids for any errors they made on the field. "There was one kid who struck out and the father screams, 'I didn't come here to watch you lose!'" Williams said. "It's not the nicest thing in the world, but it's typical. Most of us breathe down our kids' necks at one time or another."
Except, yes ... well ... the Great One. During the same league playoffs last week, Tristan -- usually a top switch-hitting player -- gave up a reported four runs in a row while on the pitching mound. But Gretzky kept his cool -- and so did his son.
"I think it's because he didn't get this crazy pressure thing from his father, the kid recovered," Williams said. The next inning, Tristan smashed a line drive and drove in two runs and the team ended up winning the game. Tristan's team ended up placing third in the league playoffs.
Tristan is the third and youngest son the 50-year-old retired hockey player is developing into an athlete. Ty, 21, plays golf at Arizona State and Trevor, 17, has been recruited by San Diego State University to play baseball in September and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs earlier this month. Gretzky was as patient with them as he is with Tristan -- and as popular with the teammates. He has been known for bringing in four or five extra-large pizzas for all the players as an after-game snack.
Linda Massarella, a Canadian writer in Los Angeles, writes every Sunday about notable Canadians living in L.A.