And, I’ve Got The T-Shirt To Prove It!
Be Sure To Check Out The Video and Links At The End...
Sometimes we work to make things happen in our lives. We study and prepare ourselves for a career. We strive to get that perfect job, position, car or house. We build on relationships and contacts to get ahead and accomplish our dreams and goals and search for the perfect mate. All of that usually takes a lot of diligence and persistence.
But sometimes stuff just happens. And, I’ll guess that your thoughts just went to the dark side because that is what life seems to teach us when “stuff happens”.
However, good things, unexpected things and stuff that we would never think of, comes to us as well. That is what happened to me around Thanksgiving of 1987.
That’s a long time ago...It’s actually a lifetime ago for some reading this!
I had put the experience out of my mind for the most part and just filed it in the recesses of that convoluted storage facility of grey matter between my ears. But every January as the sports world renewed its frenzy over the contest to determine the best football team in the SuperBowl, I would be reminded of it and some of the memories would resurface. This year, 2019, was no different, except for what brought those memories flooding back as clear as if I was living in those days again.
You see, I had an amazing opportunity that fell in my lap. Even though I didn’t feel qualified, I took a chance, had an audition and I was chosen to play in SuperBowl XXII in 1988!
How cool and amazing is that?
Here is what happened to rekindle the memories and led me to make the video.
As a dentist, I hear a lot of interesting stories when I interact with my patients. Many times they are at a bit of a disadvantage, lying back with their mouth wide open, but before I do my thing, I like to take the time get to know them.
I discovered that Lulu shared my passion for playing the piano/keyboards. A year or two ago, she was excited to share an event that she had organized with several very accomplished pianists. She brought me a program and told me that she would let me know when another one was planned. After her dental visit, we played a couple of tunes for each other on the electronic console piano I have in my office.
Just a few weeks ago, I was treating Al, another patient and we were waiting for my CEREC CAD/CAM machine to finish creating a new Porcelain Onlay. Lulu was in the adjacent room and my hygienist had just completed her cleaning visit and asked me to do an exam. When I completed the exam and gave her a well earned “Gold Star”, she told me about a piano competition that she was organizing. She invited me to take part, not as a competitor, but an exhibition pianist. I was flattered but refused because I had not played for a while and didn’t want to take the time to practice and get “in shape”. She persisted, saying that she had heard me play and thought it would be great for me to experience playing in front of the audience at her venue.
Who Would Have guessed?
I jokingly replied, “Been there, done that and I have the T-Shirt to prove it!” I went on to explain that I had played in SuperBowl XXII in San Diego in 1988 with an audience of 73,000 people and about 80 million TV viewers. The next thing I knew, my other patient, Al, overheard our conversation in the hall and Googled SuperBowl XXII Halftime. He found a video of the show on YouTube! When I came back into his room, he was playing it. I brought it up on my CEREC machine and we watched it while I was working on his teeth!
It was awesome! I didn’t know it was on YouTube. I had recorded the show on VHS tape back in the day, but totally forgot about it and never even considered digitizing it. As he was watching he actually found me in the video! I was one of the white tailed pianists at a black piano. He found a shot of me from behind, feverishly playing with my 87 companions! Amazing!
After watching the show with Al, I went home that night to search for all of my stuff. I dug back through 30 years of pictures and found them along with the original written music scores, the practice tape from Radio City, my T-Shirt and the VHS tape that I set to record the game. It was all there!
Then, all of the memories started flooding back and I just couldn’t resist making my own version of the video.
Let's go back in time. Actually back to the last century! It was 1988 and SuperBowl XXII was held in San Diego...And I was in it!
I never imagined that I would ever be a part of something so huge, but a friend who was attending San Diego State thought it would be fun to put my name on the list when Radio City announced they were looking for pianists for the halftime show. I knew nothing about it until Jon told me that I had an audition appointment! I went with trepidation and played some ragtime and classical pieces that I knew. To my amazement, a few weeks later and just a couple of days after Christmas 1987, I got a large envelope with a letter welcoming me to play in the performance. I made the cut! The package included 19 handwritten pages of music in styles that I had never played before... it looked impossible to learn in such a short time!
I was seeing patients 5 days a week, playing keyboard on the worship team at my church, and I was in the process of a do-it-yourself 1000 sq. ft. addition project at my home. But in the midst of all of that, I managed to practice 10-15 hours a week. The game was on January 31, 1988, so I only had 5 weeks to perfect it and memorize the entire score!
Perseverance and Practice
All of the pianists got together every Saturday to do studio and field rehearsals on the west side of then Jack Murphy Stadium. The Saturday before the game we did a dress rehearsal on the SuperBowl field, it was overwhelming! We were told that we could not bring any cameras into the stadium on game day, so the best we could do is capture some photos of the dress rehearsal. I dug back through 30 years of pics and found them along with my letter, all of the music, the practice tape and my T-Shirt!
When the day finally arrived, we gathered at Sea World where we were all staged. We got our final instructions and boarded buses for transport to the stadium. Assembling in the parking lot at the east end tunnel, we lined up and readied ourselves for entry to the field.
Several tractors had 2 to 6 platform trailers in tow, each with two mounted pianos. They were driven into position to form patterns that looked like gigantic grand pianos. There were 36 black and 36 white Kimball grand pianos in each formation with 4 black and 4 white pianos placed in the upper deck seating areas.
When the tractors came out on the field, we ran behind them and quickly took our places. The field was deafening with over 73,000 people in the stadium looking down at us and 80 million TV viewers as well!
An Experience Of A Lifetime...
There was very little time to think about anything. The announcer introduced us and we all hit our A Minor chord in unison to start. Then, all of the practicing just took over. We were encouraged to play with great flair making sure that no one could tell that we were stressed out as we broke into a boogie-woogie beat. Then we all stood up to play and sat on the keys before the grand finish!
The band from San Diego State and my alma mater, USC, came out and marched all around us to “Flyin’ Home.” Fourty-four Rockettes came out to do their chorus line dancing to "It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Don’t Have That Swing." Soon, a cheerleader with pompoms was bouncing atop my piano while Chubby Checker was singing and everyone was doing the twist.
Then next thing we knew, the show was over and we ran out to the buses and back to Sea World for the cast party. 5 Weeks of preparation and work went by in such a blur!
But they are incredible memories!!!
Thanks for reading,
Dr Rich Masek
Click here for the Super Bowl XXII Halftime Performance Video.
Check out these other Links...
Click here for Dr Masek's website, http://www.mysmile.com
Click here for Dr Masek's Ideolatry book website, https://ideolatry.com
Click here for Dr Masek's CEREC CAD/CAM Video
Also, don't forget to always BE READY for what comes your way. That means preparation is essential.
I wrote Ideolatry to help you gain a deeper understanding the Word of God and the Character and Nature of the God so that you can be ready to share His Love!
May God richly bless you in all that you do! - Dr Rich Masek
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