I’ve been listening to Don Imus since October 10, 1988. I was 13 years old and in the back seat of a car heading to Shea Stadium for Game 5 of a playoff series between the Mets and Dodgers. For the past 24 years, I’ve been a loyal follower.
Being a fan of the I-Man usually pits you against the Howard Stern crowd. I’ve never found Howard, or his act, to be appealing. Actually, I’ve never really listened. As the host of a sports radio show that took phone calls from listeners, I was even more turned off every time someone would call in to a radio show and say “Baba Booey.” How juvenile, I thought.
Baba Booey happens to be Gary Dell’Abate, a Greenwich resident who is Stern’s producer. As a result of the vile content of Stern’s show, and the “Baba Booey” annoyance, I was never a fan.
That changed a few weeks ago when I had a conversation with Dell’Abate while waiting in line at Arcuri’s in Cos Cob. He could not have been nicer. Seeing that I had my Greenwich Cardinal baseball apparel on, he asked me if I coached at the high school. We talked about the team and went back and forth about some of the kids in the program and school. Dell’Abate knows many of them through the countless volunteer hours he’s logged as a coach and supporter of youth sports in town. I was able to sneak in the obligatory Parks and Rec comment before saying goodbye and heading home.
It was a nice conversation that taught me a lesson I should have already known: Don’t judge a person until you actually get to know them.
Then go home and tune in to Imus.