Larry McCarron and the birth of a true Packer fan for life

Better Than Yesterday

If you live in the UP long enough, you will eventually be asked if you side with the Packers or the Lions. People have all kinds of reasons why they follow the teams they do. I am a Packer fan, and if you were in my shoes you would be too. I can trace my Packer birth date to a specific day: Oct. 26, 1980.

My dad woke me up early on a Saturday morning and we headed to Paul and Lois Butkovich’s house in Green Bay.  Then we picked up one of Bucky’s racketball buddies. He was a big man, clean shaved, with long black hair that hung over his ears. His big hands wrapped around my 5-year-old mitts and he said “Hey buddy, I’m Larry,” then he hoped in the back seat of our AMC Concord with me.

We drove to Lambeau Field. We followed Larry through the gate of the chainlink fence under the stadium and walked into the Packers locker room. There Larry introduced us to the Packers coach Bart Starr. Mr. Starr smiled and told me I should try on some of the players equipment, so I did! 

He and Larry took me to a player’s stall that read “Eddy Lee Ivery.”  Mr. Starr helped me try on his shoulder pads and then told me to put on his helmet. He had to grab it by the ear holes and spread it out. It was so tight it hurt. Mr. Starr and Larry laughed.  My round 5-year-old Finlander melon was bigger than an NFL player’s!

Then Larry brought me over to a stall with his name on it.  There he wrote a cursive message on a large, glossy, black and white picture of himself.  It read, “To Micah, Best Wishes, Larry McCarren.”

The next day the Packers played the Vikings.  Larry had given us tickets. I cheered for Larry and Eddie Lee. The Pack only won five games that season, but this game was one of them as they beat the Vikings 16-3.  

I recorded every NFL score for the entire season in a notebook that year. During the week I may have been a kindergartner, but on Sunday’s I was a Packer backer. I would continue to cheer for Larry as he played 162 straight games at center, setting a record for the Pack. Later his streak would be broken by a guy named Brett Favre. 

Each following fall we would head down to Bucky’s house and go to a Packer game. It was the highlight of each year. 

This Sunday when the Packers play the Lions I won’t be watching.  I prefer to listen to Packer Radio where I hear the timeless call of Wayne Larrivee and my favorite all time Packer, Larry McCarren.