by Joseph H. RADDER
When Eddie Abramoski, the legendary Buffalo Bills Trainer, agreed to let us do this
story, it was on condition that we'd focus more on his wife, Pat, than on him. He said
"She's the reason I'm where I'm at and what I've got." Pat, of course, didn't
Pat Casey was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1938. Her mother, Kathryn Weber, was of German descent, and her father, Edward Casey was, of course, Irish.. "In those days," Pat said, "German and Irish people weren't considered to be compatible." Obviously, it worked out well in spite of that theory. Pat has three sisters and a brother. None of the family members lives in Kentucky any more, but they still go back every so often for family reunions. The old family homestead still exists. The family gave it to the Shelbyville Historical Society a few years ago, and there is now a historical marker outside.
One of Pat's most enjoyable childhood pastimes was exploring old cemeteries. "I still like cemeteries", she said.
Eddie said "I wait in the car."
Pat attended Holy Trinity School in St. Matthews, Kentucky, Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, and received a nursing degree at the Mercy School of Nursing in Detroit.
|Abe at Purdue as a Student Trainer - 1953.||Abe getting his Masters at Purdue - 1961.|
|Pats Nursing School graduation - 1959.|
That's where Eddie Abramoski met Pat Casey. Eddie was working as head trainer for the University of Detroit. Pat was on affiliation from St. Joseph's Hospital in Ann Arbor, working at the tuberculosis hospital in Detroit. In his book, "The Tale of the Tape", Eddie says "the greatest thing about working in Detroit was, that was where I met my wife, Pat. One night some of the guys at the U. of D. were going over to the hospitsal to meet these girls. They didn't have a car, so they asked me to drive over with them. That's how I met Pat. She's been my bellwether all these years."
Edward Abramoski was born in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1933. His father, Alex Abramoski was born in Erie, and his mother, Sophie Rzodkiewicz was born in Poland. He has four sisters, two are deceased. Ed went to Wayne School in Erie, then to East High School and finally to Purdue University on a scholarship.
|Young Eddie with his Mom, Sophie Abramoski - 1934.||Eddie with his Dad Alex visiting Gramdmas farm - 1944.|
|Dad taking Eddie and little sister Mary Ann to church.||Eddie - age 12.|
Eddie Abramoski and Pat Casey were married in Louisville, Kentucky in 1960. They have five daughters, Sophie, Cindy, Carrie, Jenny, and Becky. All are career girls except Carrie, who has a full-time job at home caring for her family which includes an adopted son who was a "shaken" baby.
The Abramoski's have 13 grandchildren.
Eddie Abramoski was into sports from childhood on. He had numerous scholarship offers. "We lived in a Polish immigrant community," he said, "and the guy next door, who worked in a steel mill, asked my father, 'Why are you letting your son go to college when he could be working at the steel mill earning you $45 a week?" Fortunately, the senior Abramoski didn't think that way, and after attending Wayne School and East High School in Erie, Eddie went on to Purdue.
|The day Eddie proposed to Pat -
July 4, 1954.
|Pat and Eddie on their wedding day - June 18, 1960.|
|Eddie, Pat, Sophie, Cindy and Carrie - 1965.||Eddie, Pat, Carrie, Sophie, Cindy, Jenny and Becky - 1972.|
|Ed and Pat with their daughters at Carries wedding - 1984.||Abe and Pat in 1986 when he was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in San Antonio, Texas.|
Before the University of Detroit job, he had worked at West Point. But he didn't like Army regimentation, so, when a Purdue graduate he knew called him to be his assistant trainer for the Detroit Lions, he took the job in a minute. From there, he went to the University of Detroit, where he was chief trainer.
Detroit is where he met the Lions' defensive coordinator, Buster Ramsey. U of D played their games on Friday night, so Eddie was free to help out as game-day trainer every Sunday for the Lions. When Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., of Detroit, bought the franchise for a team in Buffalo in the new American Football League, Ramsey tapped Abramoski to be his trainer.
Eddie's twenty-three aunts and uncles thought he was crazy to go to this upstart league which they thought was probably doomed for failure. But, because he was only 24 years old and could afford to take a chance, and because Buffalo was the closest he would probably ever get to his home town of Erie, he took the job.
Pat remembers "The day we signed the closing on our very first house in Alden, Buster called that night and said 'I got fired!'"
Eddie was scared to death that he would lose his job too. "I had just bought a house for $15,500 with a mortgage payment of $99 a month, and I thought, "Oh my God! For thirty years I've got to pay $99 a month, where am I going to get the money?"
Well, of course, Eddie didn't lose his job. Indeed he was with the Bills for thirty-seven years. Over those years he helped more than a thousand Buffalo Bills, not only with their physical training, but with their personal lives...things like financial planning, opening checking accounts, buying a car and getting ready for a job after football days were over. He was definitely a father figure and confidant to many of these Bills. They called him "Uncle Abe" or "Mister Abe".
Pat says "A lot of them still phone him". He also gets calls from potential employers who are inquiring about people who say on their resume that they played for the Bills. "A lot of them didn't," he said. Eddie Abramoski is the one person in town who would know.
|Eddie with his sisters. Jean Pohl, Dorothy Macieczyk and Mary Ann Hall when he was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame - 1996.||Eddies 60th birthday. Left to right: Eddies sister, Lee Freeman, Ralph Wilson, Eddie, Dick Weiss (Bills Medical Director) and Dr. Stephen Hudecki (team dentist) - 1993.|
|Eddie, Pat and all 13 grandchildren - 2003.|
The Abramoskis have a room full of mementos, awards, and honors. Pictures and plaques tell the story of his selection by the Buffalo Bills Booster Club in 1966 for a special award for keeping players fit. In 1974, the Buffalo Athletic Club gave him the BAC Broken Bone award. In 1986 he was elected to the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame, which is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Eddie was tapped to present Buffalo Bill Billy Shaw for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. "I was scared to death, he said. I'm not a public speaker, but I practiced a lot, and when I made the speech I just looked at Pat. All the big-time names of pro football were there." But, perhaps thanks to Pat, he got through it and did a beautiful job.
There are so many awards and honors, we can't list them all, but perhaps the biggest one was when Eddie Abramoski's name was placed on the Wall of Fame at Ralph C. Wilson Stadium. "That was the biggest shock to me", he said. "I was on that committee, and, on the night we were considering the next nominee, Scott Berchtold asked me to step out of the meeting for a minute to talk about the Billy Shaw Hall of Fame speech I had coming up.
|Eddie and Pat inspecting an ancient pigeon coop in Ireland - 2000.||Perhaps the most luxurious pigeon coop in Western New York.|
|Eddie by the Berlin Wall while at the American Bowl - 1993.||Eddie's book is dedicated to grandson Shawn and all receipts go to support the "Shaken Baby Foundation" at Women's and Children's Hospital.|
" I came back in and Mr. Wilson said 'Well, we picked our guy. It was unanimous.'"
"So I asked, who did I vote for?"
"It was you!" he said..
Of course Abramoski was flabbergasted, and the presentation ceremony at Wilson Stadium was one never to be forgotten.
Pat said her best reward has been her family, knowing that they're healthy, and that they stay close to Mom and Dad and each other.
Ed Abramoski keeps busy in retirement with his pigeons. He is one of the country's best-known breeders of racing pigeons. "We race them as much as 600 miles," he says, "and they come home from as far as 3,000 miles away". When one first sees the pigeon coop in the Abramoski's back yard in Amherst, it looks like a small luxury motel. "We built it during the Super Bowl years" he says. There's probably no pigeon coop anywhere that's more architecturally attractive.
|John Kidd, Pat, Eddie, Bill Polian and Dr. Dick Weiss, N.A.T.A. Hall of Fame - 1987.||Dick Weiss, Jack Kemp and Eddie at the American Bowl in London - 1991.|
|Lou Saban and Eddie at the War Memorial Stadium 50 Years of Glory Days Tribute - 1987.||Eddie and Paul McGuire - 1987.|
When Steve Tasker saw this pigeon coop, he asked Eddie "If my wife throws me out can I stay here?"
Pat spends a lot of time working with The Ladies of Charity. She is also very involved at St. Pius Church on North French Road. As a way of demonstrating all of Pat's good works, Eddie tells us of the six year old car she recently turned in with 160,000 miles on the odometer.
"And of course," Pat says, "my big hobby is my grandchildren. I adore them."
As indicated above, Eddie Abramoski is a published author. With sports writer Milt Northrup, he wrote "A Tale of the Tape" which was published last year. It's packed with interesting, amusing, and often funny anecdotes about the Buffalo Bills, both the players, and support organization.
One anecdote that proves Pat's importance in Eddie's life relates to one of the years when the Bills were getting beaten terribly by the New York Jets. And their record was 2 and 14. "I came home and said, I think I'm going to quit. This job's got me, I think I'm going to change."
|Bills Assistant Equipment Man, Ron Krauza, Head Equipment Man, Tony Marchitte and Eddie - 1971.||Ed and Pat, the day his name was unveiled on the Wall of Fame - 1999.|
But Pat said, "Think of the poor guys at Bethlehem Steel who worked at the plant for thirty years. They close the plant and they have nothing. Just be thankful you have a good job.
"I thought about it", he said, "and I thought, you know she's right. And so I stayed." If he had followed his own instincts, he would have missed those four exciting Super Bowl years.
Now you know why we say Pat Abramoski is the good woman behind the good man, her beloved husband, Eddie.
Joseph H. Radder, a frequent contributor to Living Prime Time, is author of a new book, Young Jesus, the Missing Years. For more information, phone 1-888-280-7715 or visit www.1stbooks.com
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