RANDOLPH, NJ- Virtually every little boy in America grows up hoping to one day get the chance to meet a superstar professional athlete. Throw in being filmed and ending up on TV highlight reels with arguably the greatest QB to ever play football, and you have a virtual dream come true.
For longtime Randolph resident and RHS graduate Gary Baumwoll, every little boys dream was his reality. On his 5th birthday, Baumwoll was attending a Miami Dolphins football game with his father when two NFL superstars, Dan Marino and Mark Clayton, walked over to the stands and handed him a football for his birthday. ( See video at end of story )
A video clip of the moment first aired in 1985 on the HBO show “Inside the NFL”, and later it ran on other highlight shows, subsequently ending up on Marino's retirement video.
For the Miami Dolphins 50th anniversary, the team is running a campaign “#sincemoment”, asking fans on social media write the team with their story explaining "I've been a Dolphins fan since this moment". The video clip of five year old Baumwoll was also used in their video promo for their #sincemoment campaign.
“The video was put on social media to celebrate the Dolphin's 50th anniversary and a friend from Florida tagged me on Facebook” Baumwoll explained. Baumwoll then wrote the Dolphins and told them he was "The boy in the video".
Baumwoll’s wife Heather, an RHS graduate and Randolph resident who also runs her Orthodontic practice in town, stated, “They were so excited to hear from Gary, as this was the premise of their entire campaign, so they flew us both down to Miami to interview him.”
“It was great Heather got to be there as well. We were both treated amazing by the Dolphins. They really went above and beyond and made it a first class experience. Heather is now a Dolphin fan,” Said Baumwoll.
Being that he was only five, Baumwoll didn’t have a whole lot to say on that first meeting with Marino and Clayton. He explained, “Dan Marino said Happy Birthday and I do not remember much more. I know my Dad spoke with Mark Clayton and thanked him for setting it up.”
Baumwoll grew up to play quarterback for Randolph High School (class of 98) and then went on to play wide receiver at Princeton. On his second meeting with the legendary QB and Wide Receiver, he clearly had much more in common to discuss, “We mainly discussed my football experiences in high school and college and what Heather and I were up to now.” Said Baumwoll.
When asked if the meeting all those years ago, and the video clip shown repeatedly on TV while he was growing up had any influence on his football choices, Baumwoll said, “Dan Marino was definitely my favorite player along with Mark Clayton. I think definitely, this experience contributed to me playing QB at Randolph and Wide Receiver at Princeton.
The 5th birthday meeting was set up by Baumwoll’s dad, who may or may not have realized at the time how much of an impactful 'father – son memory of a lifetime' it would become.
“My dad is such a huge part of my life and my success. He was my sports coach, life coach, motivator and best friend; and he made all those types of moments possible for me. I am trying to do the same things with my sons, as I treasure those memories with my dad.”