In life, sport or personal success there is absolutely no way that any person or entity makes it on his own. In this sport that is especially true. It is to those that have helped me and with this in mind that this page is dedicated. All to often we go through life or in this case, sport, with a goal of becoming one of the better players at what we do. It is very easy to get full of ourselves. However there are many that over the years must contribute to help make us good at what we do. To those that have helped me along the way
I thank you!
Mrs Deb Torres - First and foremost for having the patience to deal with my passion. Pigeon racing is not as much a sport as it is a lifestyle. Evidenced by how many family decisions are influenced by what we do. Yes I said lifestyle and it is not an easy one. Think about it, many family decisions from vacations to holidays, parties, even where we live all influenced by our passion for pigeons. In 1979 I had the great fortune to marry the best hen I ever met. A super mom, a great wife and the best life's partner anyone could ever hope for. Thank You for your endless tolerance. I am a lucky guy!
Al Runne - One of my primary mentors in the sport. This was the loft to beat on any given day. I often refer to Al as one of the best all natural pigeon men that I have ever known. He was not easy to get to know. Personally a no nonsense guy and even argumentative at times. However, he could because he was that good. It took years to learn just a small portion of what he tried to pass on to me. I refer to what I learned from Al as "Runne's Rules". He was instrumental in helping me build my family both with pigeons and with advice. Runne's loft even years after his passing is still legendary in our area.
Joe Hubschman - Pigeon theft was a common occurance in NYC. Without knowing him, I helped him retrieve his stolen racing birds. We met, when I retrieved his birds, and he started me on the road to pigeon racing. His gratitude was unending he bred me a team and even gave me a fairly new clock. He coached me and sponsored my membership to the Bronx Club. We became good friends.
Brad Laverne and Chic Brooks In 1994 my loft suffered a great loss that came in the form of a major fire. Depressed for the loss, I was on the fence of quitting or rebuilding. It was then that I got a call from a man that I had never met but knew well of. Brad Laverne, a giant in the sport, called and said that he and his partner Chic Brooks of Hapyco lofts wanted me to stay in the sport and offered me some birds from their well respected Hapyco lofts if I chose to rebuild. I was surprised and amazed that they even knew who I was. My decision to rebuild was definitely influenced by my many conversations with Brad. It is easy to call yourself a sportsman. Brad and Chic demonstrated how to be one. I called and a week later the birds arrived. Success came quickly. Several won races and one of those is a key family member of today's family. These two gentlemen were truly instrumental in keeping me in the sport that I enjoy so much. Some call themselves sportsmen Chick Brooks and Brad Laverne truly are. Brad has since passed on, the pigeon sport has lost a true ambassador of good will, common sense and intelligence.
Larry Davis One of my oldest and dearest friends. Before Racing birds I was a fancy pigeon keeper. I still love the fancies. I first met Larry growing up in New York City. He was about 12 years old. Larry was running down the street, wearing pajamas and a jacket and was chasing a group of older kids, that had stolen the few birds he kept on the roof of his tenement building. My partner and I knew of Larry from the neighborhood . Impressed with his spunk and apparent love of the birds, I stopped him and told him to forget the thieves and come up to our roof and become part of our loft. It was the beginning of a great friendship more like a son than a friend. Later, living in Middleburg Florida with wife Maryann and daughter Joannie, we agreed that he would keep my older foundation birds in a milder climate. When the fire destroyed my lofts it was Larry that was able to assist in rebuilding my true family back to its original form. Having kept my originals in great shape and breeding them the way I wanted them bred. We swung the eggs to younger pumpers and saved the family. There is no doubt in my mind that without his help the original Torres family would have been lost.
Pete Ciolino There are some selfless people that do what seems to be a seemingly insignificant act Pete is such a person. Prior to the 1994 loft fire Pete purchased at auction 3 of my birds. Shortly after the fire he walked into my yard and delivered back to me the three birds and said "you need these more than I do." More importantly all 3 had already bred him winners including a 500 mi. winner. Furthermore he would not take a dime for them! Two of those 3 birds were Aladdin and DE 48 and are the foundation of the LOLITA'S. How many of us would do such a thing, I wonder? A few years later Pete left the sport due to health reasons, that is our loss I assure you.
Mr Albert Better known as old man CUBA of The Bronx. When I first started in this sport it was difficult to meet and to interact with the top tier experienced people of the club. As an inexperienced racer there was much to learn and few willing to teach you. Secrets were protected not shared. Old Man Cuba was a good handler and a sportsman that knew, you have to encourage and nurture the young and inexperienced if you want them to stay in the sport. He often said "if you want a seedling to grow to be a strong plant or tree you must help it get get a good start." I never forgot this and I try to emulate his kindness and his concern for the beginner. Without the beginner there is no future.
The Birds I have been very fortunate to have come across some super pigeons in my quest. When someone comes up to me after a good race and calls me champ. I know that it is that little ball of feathers and flesh that are the true champs. It is they that do the work. It is their spirit, determination and character that makes us all look good. It is also the birds that when you think you have all the answers, they make you humble. It is the birds that create the mystery that keep us all going back to the drawing-board and thus makes our sport so interesting.
On another note I grew up in a semi-tough neighborhood in New York City. Many of my friends got in trouble some in jail and a few are even dead. My Fancies kept me busy on the rooftops and out of trouble all day long. Many of my childhood friends that are still around have one thing in common. They all kept pigeons. I credit fancy pigeons for helping to keep me and my freinds out of trouble and teaching us all respect and responsibility for animals in general as well as good sportsmanship. Pigeons have also been and continue to be the source of many valued friendships in my life.