The Bucks County Playhouse is launching its season with a newly produced production of "Tommy and Me" starring Gordon Clapp playing now through June 17.

"Tommy and Me" is the story of a 10-year-old boy named Ray Didenger who grows up idolizing Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Tommy McDonald who played for the team from 1957 until 1964. That relationship inspired Ray to become an NFL writer, radio and TV analyst which eventually gets him into the NFL Hall of Fame as part of the writer's honor roll and he would make the pitch to get Tommy in as well.

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When he's not writing, Ray works on Sportsradio 94 WIP, NBC Sports Philly, and NFL Films. He's also one hell of a great guy and he called into my New Jersey 101.5.

Tell us the story of "Tommy and Me"

"I was a 10-year-old kid. And a huge Eagles fan. And my parents were big fans as well. And we used to go to Eagles training camp every summer. That was Dad's summer vacation and we would drive up to training camp which was then at Hershey."

"We would spend our two weeks there and go to every practice and Tommy McDonald was my favorite player."

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"I was just a typical 10-year-old kid standing outside the locker room door of my autograph book, waiting for him to come out. And, you know, training camp back then was a whole different sort of setup."

"Now there are all kinds of fences and barricades and security guards and all that. So back then, there was none of that. Hardly anybody went to training camp, hardly anybody went to practice. So if you're a 10-year-old kid with an autographed book, you can literally stand at the locker room door and wait for your favorite guy to come out."

"So that's what I did. And Tommy came out and I asked for his autograph. And he was really nice. And then we struck up a conversation and that conversation became a friendship. And it continued, and it continued on for 40 years and wound up in the Hall of Fame."

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What was it about Tommy McDonald as opposed to the other stars on the team?

"Tommy looked like us. You know, Tommy looked like the kids in the schoolyard at recess. yet he was out there playing with the big boys and helping the Eagles win a championship. So as a kid, you just related to him on a much more personal level. I sure did."

Did that relationship lead you into your career covering the Eagles and pro football?

"It really did. The way Tommy treated me and the way he befriended me, he really kind of brought me into the world of pro football. And he made me feel that it was real to me. And I really felt like I kind of know this business, I kind of feel like I belong in this business, and it kind of gave me the confidence to pursue it."

Gordon Clapp who won an Emmy for his portrayal of Detective Greg Medavoy in NYPD Blue not only stars as Tommy but grew up a huge fan of McDonald

"That had nothing to do with offering him the part." says Didinger "They were trying to figure out who they wanted to play Tommy."

"First of all, if you're looking for an actor to play Tommy McDonald, you have to start with the fact that he has to be small. You know, you can't you can't you can't hire somebody that's six feet to to play Tommy McDonald."

"You need to find somebody who's five, eight, or thereabouts. And there aren't that many actors that are that small. So they knew that Gordon Clapp was was was a very fine actor. Obviously, 12 seasons of NYPD Blue won an Emmy Award for that."

"He was nominated for a Tony for "Glengarry Glen Ross". He's been very successful in movies, on TV, and on the stage. So they said, you know, Gordon Clapp, he's the right size, you know, we'll send him the script. And we'll see what he says he's really busy."

"He was at that point, touring the country doing a one-man Robert Frost show. So they sent him the script. And like, the next day, he called him back and said, I want to do this."

"I didn't realize why. But then when he joined us to start rehearsals, he said to me, he said, I was a huge Tommy McDonald fan. I'm not from Philly, and he said, I wasn't really an Eagles fan. He said, But you know, I was the littlest kid in my neighborhood and I wanted to play football with the big guys. And when I watched football on TV, the guy that I idolized was Tommy McDonald, because he was doing the same thing."

"So, he and I came to this story in much the same way, as you know, doing a piece about our childhood hero, it just so happened, it was the same hero."

"Tommy and Me" shows a side of Ray Didenger that his fans are not used to seeing

"A lot of it comes through to the character that I create, who is the 10-year-old me. You know, there were there are two of me wandering around on that stage, There's the adult me, and then there's the 10-year-old me", and the two kind of walk through this story together."

"What's kind of funny about it, and what really gets some of the biggest laughs in the play is the 10-year-old Ray, giving a lot of talk back to the big guy, because, you know, the older Ray is kind of where I am now, which is the objective reporter, the serious sober journalist, you know, no cheering in the press box, keep everything on, that's the objective."

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The 10-year-old Ray is walking alongside me and he can't he doesn't get this at all. You know, what do you mean, you're going to go to the Eagles game at Franklin Field and you're not going to cheer? I mean, that doesn't make any sense."

"So that whole, the, idealist rooting 10-year-old boy, walking alongside the sober, somber, straight arrow, 40-year-old journalist, and the difference between the two of them, even though they're the same person, the difference between the two of them, and the, conflict between the two of them is really is. It's really, one of the funnier little subplots of the play. And I can tell you that the 10-year-old may get the biggest laughs."

This is the perfect play for fathers and sons to bond over and with Father's Day coming up, it could make a great gift. For tickets to see "Tommy and Me" click here

NFL pros from New Jersey

There are more than 60 active pros with NJ roots.

More than 10 players who made it to the NFL conference championship games this year have NJ ties — and four active NFL quarterbacks were born in the Garden State.

Some of them may even be on your fantasy football team.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

You can now listen to Steve Trevelise — On Demand! Discover more about New Jersey’s personalities and what makes the Garden State interesting. Download the Steve Trevelise show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.

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