By Alex Gonzalez
Armando Gonzalez was born on May 15, 1961, and died on August 25, 2021. He was buried at Resurrection Cemetery, just two miles away from his childhood home in Rosemead. He was a homer for Los Angeles sports. He loved watching the Dodgers, USC Trojan football, and the Lakers. Not only that, but he adored Nascar and the Indy Car series. Most importantly, he loved the Las Vegas Raiders. He was a brother, an uncle, but above all, he was my father.
When I think about it, if it were not for my dad, I would not be the avid sports lover I am today. He was the one that would take me to Dodger games when I was younger, and even though I had no clue what was happening around the diamond, it did not matter to him because all he wanted to do was show me who Mike Piazza was.
The Dodger games were just a starter for me as I grew older. Once I knew what was happening with the Dodgers, that’s when he would take me to see USC football. Again, I had no clue what was going on, but I did know that they always won when we went to the games. That is also when I learned never to root for UCLA at all costs. He loved his teams and hated their rivals. Probably more than the players themselves. He was that kind of fan.
With that said, with all of the Dodger and USC games we would go to, they were fun. They were something that we could make a night out of and enjoy live sports.
Then, when the Raiders played in San Diego or Oakland, things changed.
The fandom that my father had for the Raiders is something some would call strange. Then again, “strange” can define all Raiders fans. He was the most passionate when you compare all the other sports that he followed. He would get up at 4 a.m. on Sunday to drive to San Diego or Oakland, so he could tailgate and watch the game.
Raiders memorabilia littered his man cave from wall to wall. With pictures of the hall of Famers like Howie Long and Lester Hayes, I knew that the love for the Raiders was in his blood. I knew that it was in his blood so much that he would try to convince me to watch the Raiders or take me to Arizona games to see them play. Even after every win, he would always ask me, “How bout them Raiders?!”
I would laugh because as the years passed after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers obliterated them in 2003, I would ask him, “How bout them Raiders?!”
Football and baseball were something that both of us shared and adored as we got older. To me, the one sport that he loved the most was auto racing. Now those were fun. Not only did we get excited to wake up and to drive down to Long Beach to see the Grand Prix, but it was something new for me to experience with my old man. It wasn’t just the cars speeding down Shoreline Drive, but it was the atmosphere around the event.
He got the joy as we walked around the garages as teams would work on the cars before they went out. It got to the point where he would try to talk to some of the members to figure out what they were doing while preparing the car. He was a curious guy who loved old school cars, and whenever there was a chance to get under the hood of one, he would do it.
My father was a lot of things. He was intelligent, curious, and always had an answer to my outrageous yet confusing questions. He loved sports of all sorts, and he taught me that same passion.
I’m going to miss him, but I will never forget him. He’s the man that I am today, and I’m proud to be his oldest son. He is a legend in his own right, and you know what they say about legends. They never die.
Rest in Peace Pops.