Friday, December 23, 2005

They Said It:

"Mike Moffett is having his knee operation the old Marine way: no anesthetic, sewn up with a dull fishhook and an old shoestring between pushup sets." - Doug Ricard's characterization of his Over 35 League basketball teammate's recent knee surgery.

Moffett, the chair of the Sports Management program at New Hampshire Technical Institute and a weekly columnist, wrote of his surgery in his Weirs Times column. Take a peek:

“This is my first year in the last 30 years not ‘interacting’ with coaches. I have hung up my whistle. I can remember the ‘golden’ years of cutting my teeth (and thickening my skin) while doing three games a night at the Community Center. I had a very good run and have a bunch of fond and not so fond memories that began at the Center.” – Wes Cook on his retirement from basketball officiating.

Comment: Back in the days when I had the honor of running the Men’s Basketball League, we used only board certified referees to work the games, something that is nearly impossible now with 57 teams playing 28 games a week. Wes was one of a stable of guys – Chick Smith, Arthur Jackson, Jim Burney, Randy Daniels, Leon Kenison, among others – who honed their game at Green Street. What I liked most about Cook’s game was that he’d make any call, any place and if I was hiring high school officials, he’d be near the top of my list. Back in the day, the home school did the hiring and Wes didn’t care who was playing or who was paying. He’d make the call. Bronze that whistle, Wesley, and hang it somewhere for all to see……JDS

“I took Brian and Tony on a trip of a lifetime in October. We took in the ND-BYU game on October 22. What an experience!!! Not only did we get inside the Golden Dome and got to see all the Heisman trophies, but I got friendly with one of the assistant supervisors of ushers during the game and he took us down on the field after the game and took our pictures in front of the famous tunnel. (And yes I did grab a handful of turf, which is now in a baggie in my home office).” – Mike Sartorelli on his trip to the home of Touchdown Jesus.

“I played with T-Card until my knees couldn't take the pounding anymore at age 37. What is his secret?” - Dave Anderson on how Doug Ricard can still be going in the Men’s League at age 59.

The piece on Copulating for Williamsport drew an unusual number of responses, to wit:

“Sign me up and let me know when the tryouts begin!” – signed: Eager Beaver, from one of my (female) cousins after reading the piece on Copulating for Williamsport

“Loved the idea for spawning a Championship Little League Team! I fit the criteria for the switch hitter idea, but alas my ovaries have wilted!” – a female reader.

“Really enjoyed your Williamsport idea. I always could go nine so I'm going to step up and say with new medical advances I'm UP for a double header!!” – a former Concord resident who pays a lot of attention to baseball….from this post, perhaps a little too much.

“No oral exams for Williamsport?” – from one of my regular readers.

“By the way I`ve been to the Little League World Series for the past five years and it is a great experience. My sons, Cam (14) and Connor (11), love it there. If you are a baseball junkie like me its pure baseball heaven.” – David Angus on his real experiences at Williamsport.

“Your ‘take’ on producing a Little League ‘winner’ got me to thinking. If only I were a short fifty years younger, I'd be writing to say - ‘count me in’!” – from a dear friend.

“Feinstein praises Ray Lewis for being involved in the lives of his six children - even though they have four mothers, none of whom he is married to.” – from a friend suggesting that John Feinstein’s recent book about the Baltimore Ravens lacks a little cred.

So you think the popularity of Legion baseball has taken a dip in Concord in the past 10 years? Here’s a question I found in my email basket from a prominent sportswriter in New Hampshire who was preparing for a piece on Jed Hoyer a couple of weeks before his appointment as co-GM of the Red Sox:

“Jed played for Concord Post 21? Is that the correct name of the team? Do they still have a team?”

No discredit to the sportswriter…he’s great. But what does that say about the Legion program? Come on, guys, let’s get this thing back on track.

“Jeff: Thanks so much for the article (on Joe Shields). As you know I was the batboy on that Legion team. At a very young age I knew he was special, but didn't quite understand why then. I just knew he was my buddy and hero that wonderful summer. He played the game very Varitek- like in stature and he was physically tough as nails. Just another little piece of Concord that shaped who I was, and I’m damn proud of it. He taught me to eat lemons that summer. He'd cut a piece off, in the dog days of summer, and would say, ‘eat this so you won't be so thirsty.’ I couldn't smile all summer because I was puckered all the time. Wonder if he was bustin my chops??” – Mike McGrath on the passing of Joe Shields.

And here’s a few ways of knowing you’re from New Hampshire:

You consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 36 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping it will swim by.

You’re proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Mt. Washington is the coldest spot in the nation.

Your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May (except in Concord where Arnie re-opens to sell some Christmas trees.).

Someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance, and they don't work there.

“Vacation” means going somewhere south of New York.

You measure distance in hours.

You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

You have switched from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again.

You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching.

You install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked.

You carry jumpers in your car and your girlfriend/wife knows how to use them.

You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

You find 10 degrees "a little chilly."

Giving Them the Bird

Remember Concord's Eddie Annal and his high flying friend Sam the Eagle? Here's another piece on how Eddie and Sam are wowing the local Cincinnati folks.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Running in the Street

Megan McGrath Runs the NYC Marathon

We receive gifts all year long. Some may be in the form of a couple of words...others may be a couple of paragraphs letting us know of something good in one's life. From time to time, people send us items that are important and heart warming. Here is a first person account of the New York City Marathon in November from Megan McGrath, the daughter of Mike McGrath, a native of Concord who has lived in Florida for decades now. Megan was running her second marathon and did so as a fund-raiser. Read on… can almost feel the crowd lining the streets of New York……:

Hello all -

I hope this email finds you all well..... with family and friends - possibly cooking up a large feast for Turkey Day. Sitting here on Thanksgiving Eve surrounded with a few of my loved ones I was thinking of you all.... as I am truly thankful to have you all in my life and thankful for the support you have all provided in some way throughout my training and/or running of the NYC Marathon.

I have to tell you all that you have to do it... maybe not run it, but you gotta go and see it-experience the energy. The day was nothing less than amazing. The streets were swelling as over 2 million spectators came out to cheer on the 37,000 competitors from around the world. The entire city seemed to be busting at the seams with crowds cheering for those of us that had decided to take on the 26.2 mile challenge.

At 6 am on the marathon morning Chris escorted me to the NYC Public Library leaving me with a big hug, kiss, and a fiery little pep talk. I caught a bus over to Staten Island - where I waited ANXIOUSLY in a grassy field with thousands of other people for a 10:00 start. It may have been my second marathon, but I was just as nervous. This time the weather was nice - opposite of the Disney Marathon that brought a chilly 35 degree start. Who would have thought that NYC November 6th would have us running in weather that rivals South Florida's balmy 70's. I was thankful.

When we were finally corralled into the starting areas Black Hawk helicopters hovered overhead while fire barges spouted red, white, and blue water. A cannon fired from Ft. Wadsworth signaled that it was time to get the show on the road.... and that road was straight up hill over the Verzzano-Narrows Bridge. The first 10 miles flew by.... I remember certain images but I felt so much energy from the crowd.... it felt as though I was on a treadmill set about five beats faster than I could run. I felt as though I was being sucked down the streets of NY and the louder the cheers were the faster my legs would take me. I was trying to force myself to slow down... as too fast in the beginning usually correlates to too painful at the end!! In my efforts of taking it slow I managed to high-five children all along the race course, pet a few super cute dogs, and wave to some of the firemen and police that lined the streets. One of the many bands that was performing along the race course incorporated my name into their song as I ran by (I had written my name in large letters and taped it to the top of my number bib).

We continued to wind our way through all five boroughs and over a few bridges....and FINALLY at mile 17 I got to see Christian, my Dad, and Katie. I cannot even begin to thank them enough for trekking up to NYC only to hope to catch a glimpse of me in the crowds. They have a picture of me with my mouth wide open in shock that I actually saw them. It was so crowded I had all but given up on seeing them so I was pumped for the next few miles... and then Central Park deflated me. I had done very little "hill training" while in Florida... to be more exact, none. Between the bridges and the rolling hills in the Park I was struggling. The last few miles weren't really fun at all. I was swearing to myself that as soon as I finished I was going to sign and seal some sort of contract where I agreed to NEVER run a marathon again - EVER.

Well, I finally finished after 4 hours and 11 minutes, which averages to about a 9 1/2 minute mile. I was too tired to do much of anything celebratory as I cross the finish line.... other than whimper and let out a sigh of relief. My legs were ready for mutiny and I wanted nothing more to find my family because I needed a hug. Finding them was another marathon altogether. It took over an hour for us to all meet up..... those 2 million spectators and the 37,000 runners made it difficult.

The following day Chris and I were lucky enough to get to shake hands with both winners (Paul Tergat (KEN) finished the marathon in 2:09:30 and Jelena Prokopcuka (LAT) finished in 2:24:41) at Tavern On The Green, which is where the finish line had been the day before. Needless to say that was closest I would ever be to those two phenomenal athletes at a finish line. I was in awe of their athleticism... but happy to see that Mr. Tergat had the familiar day after marathon gait - even the elite get sore!!!

Thanks to so many of you a total of $2,840 was raised and donated to the NY Road Runners Special Charity Programs. That is something that people that you and I will never even know will be thankful for - which makes giving it that more meaningful.

I would say that the crowd there that day helped me get through that race; however, it was all of you that helped me get there and that is priceless. I thank you all for your support, your donations, and for believing in me.

I hope that you all have a Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy the time with your family and friends - I will be thinking of all of you.

Kindest regards,