St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

The World Cup vs. brother Bill


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 8, 2000

TAMPA -- Although he wasn't quite 3 years old in the summer of 1978, placekicker Martin Gramatica vividly remembers the important things going on in his life.

The World Cup, soccer's quadrennial extravaganza, was held in his native Argentina throughout June, and the home team won the championship. That touched off a gala celebration that transformed Buenos Aires' famed Avenida 9 de Julio, the world's widest boulevard, into the site of the world's biggest block party.

A couple of weeks later, Martin's brother, Bill, was born.

Remember that, Martin?

"Nah. That wasn't as important as the World Cup," he said, laughing and glancing at a blushing Bill.

Martin admitted that he does recall -- sort of -- his mother going into labor and heading off to the hospital, but that's not as ingrained in his psyche as the World Cup. He and his father, William, made the 500-mile trek from their home in Chaco to the nation's capital for some early-round games.

Neither father nor son remembers Argentina's opponents.

They didn't save the ticket stubs.

They bought no programs.

They took no pictures.

"But when I go back and watch highlights from the World Cup, I can see myself there," Martin said. "I see the fans and how excited they were. It was the first World Cup Argentina won. I see myself in my cleats. I see myself in the Argentina jersey I wore. I still have that little jersey."

That's a poignant reminder of how integral soccer is in Argentina, and many countries around the world.

When Martin was born on Nov. 27, 1975, his proud father rushed out and bought him a pair of gifts: a T-shirt from the famed Argentine club team Boca Juniors and a soccer ball.

"He learned to walk and kick the ball at the same time," William gushed.

By the summer of 1978, Martin was getting more adept at both.

"My dream was for him to play for Boca Juniors," William said. "That's the dream of all fathers in Argentina for their sons."

An avid fan of sports of all sorts, William had heard of American football, but he didn't know the rules and saw only enough of it to think it was "very dangerous."

After bringing his family to America in 1984, he learned more about American football, and to appreciate it. He didn't protest a bit when Martin went out for football as a senior at LaBelle High, a season he parlayed into a scholarship to Kansas State, where he emerged as one of the nation's best kickers.

"Now he plays football in Tampa," his father said, "and that's my dream. He's fulfilled all my dreams."

* * *

Q: If you could go back to 1978 and tell yourself something, what would it be?

A: I probably would tell myself to take a camera (to the World Cup games) so I could have pictures of everything. When you're there, you're just enjoying the event. But as time goes by, you kind of forget about it, and pictures can bring back a lot of memories.


Jan. 15, 1978

New Orleans

Cowboys 27, Broncos 10

MVP: Harvey Martin, Cowboys defensive end, and Randy White, Cowboys defensive tackle (the defense forces eight turnovers and holds Denver to 8 of 25 passing).

IN THE NEWS: Feb. 15: Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian D. Smith and three black leaders agree on a transfer to black majority rule. Aug. 6: Pope Paul VI, dead at 80, is mourned. Sept. 28: New pope John Paul I, 65, dies unexpectedly after 34 days in office. Oct. 16: Karol Wojtyla of Poland is elected pope and chooses the name John Paul II. Sept. 17: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin sign a "Framework for Peace" after a 13-day conference at Camp David led by President Carter. Nov. 18: Jim Jones's followers commit mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.


MUSIC OF THE MOMENT: Saturday Night Fever soundtrack


Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk


  • In line for a return trip to Metrodome
  • Bucs want this 'guest' to leave
  • Excitement fading fast for Bucs fans
  • The World Cup vs. brother Bill
  • Three brothers, one love
  • Webster to get his 1st start
  • McKay has his eyes on realignment
  • Best and worst: Game 6
  • Bucs chat
  • The thinking man's punter
  • NFL games
  • Saints pleased with Howard
  • Lightning

  • Opener shows power play shortcoming
  • 'Textbook play' creates a lead, albeit short-lived
  • NHL briefs
  • Some Panthers offer to help pay for a Cup
  • Slap shots
  • Reports say Lightning went looking for Sens wing Roy
  • College football

  • Grossman, Gators throttle LSU
  • Wide right 3
  • A team win but a QB's emergence
  • Bulls not ready for big boys
  • College football this week on TV
  • Upsets set up Rose Bowl confusion
  • Bulls forced to shuffle starters
  • USF sideliners
  • FSU sideliners
  • Defense lets Seminoles down
  • FSU quotebook
  • UM quotebook
  • Field goal miss only part of FSU's offensive failure
  • Shockey speaks up, silences FSU
  • Gaffney emergence continues
  • UF sideliners
  • UF defense tackles its biggest problem
  • Devil Rays

  • Rothschild not only thing wrong with Rays
  • Players find life after Rays in post-season action
  • Rays prepare for new look, altering name
  • Playoffs/baseball

  • St. Louis advances easily
  • A's stave off elimination
  • Young A's have fun while winning
  • Baseball briefs
  • Sports etc.

  • Sports briefs
  • Highs and lows
  • The fall mullet run will be 'smoking'
  • Divers must display larger warning flags
  • Captain's corner
  • Pack mentality carries Lecanto girls to victory
  • Auto racing briefs
  • Powerful Olympic Heights rallies to win Berkeley title
  • NBA briefs
  • Northside's Mathews regaining killer instinct
  • AFA's Biffar outruns county foe

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts