There it stood in its midnight blue splendor, a beacon in a parking lot full of Dodge Caravans, Ford Explorers and Toyota Highlanders.
Hector Luevano, the Kansas City Stars Squirt A team manager, opened the rear hatch to his week-old custom 12-seater Chevy van with a cargo hold that looked like it could handle the gear for an entire team, including two goalies.
Illuminating the 12-foot-long hull was a 23-inch flat screen TV with a picture so clear I swear I could see a splinter on Woody's nose as the movie "Toy Story" played.
We'd heard about the van, but now we were in its presence.
A din of "oohs" and "ahhs" could be heard as we took it all in.
Hector was beaming like a proud father, showing the team moms and dads his new conversion van, with wood trim accents and plush tan interior.
Well, he is a proud father. Just a few days before taking delivery on the van, Hector and his wife, Sharyn, had their seventh child, a son.
"Must be a Catholic van," one dad said.
Despite a 500-mile trip to Dallas for a Thanksgiving tournament with seven kids and a stinky hockey bag, the van still had that wondrous new car smell.
We were jealous. Suddenly, our SUVs no longer measured up to the Luevanos' ultimate cruising vessel.
"How many miles to the gallon?" I later asked Hector, ready to judge the 22 miles per gallon my Honda Pilot gets on the highway.
"About 15," Hector said, kicking some phantom rocks with his shoe. "I'd fill up every time we stopped and each time I needed a quarter or a half tank and it rang up $30."
The few of us in our circle agreed that the comfort and that glorious TV that induces catatonic silence from the tiny passengers in the back were more than worth the trade in manufacturer's suggested mpg. Nothing beats a quiet ride when you are still 300 miles from Chicago and your supply of coffee has just run out.
Later that evening, I saw Hector collect a massive gift basket full of popcorn and at least a dozen sports movie DVDs that he won in a drawing during a tournament dinner at the hotel.
"You're the only one of us who could get that thing in your vehicle without having to leave a kid behind," I said to Hector as he balanced the basket on top of a baby stroller.
"Yeah," he smiled, as he did when he first opened the rear hatch on the van for us all to see.
Some guys have all the luck.