Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Clean-up Crew

Fixing some, adding others, and just messing around with a few others:

Green Machine
A month or so before the start of the high school basketball season, a friend of mine who is quite knowledgeable of the Class L scene suggested that Manchester Central, despite graduating a ton of talent, would "still be pretty good."

Now we find out how accurate that comment is as the Little Green are undefeated through the end of January. Add in a three-game sweep in the Queen City Christmas Tournament, and you understand why the Little Green has sights on a Class L three-peat.

The Good Old Orange, Blue and Black
Local sports fan Brian Bendiks was a 16-year old on Long Island when the Dodgers and Giants fled NYC, and he is sure that the color combination of the New York Mets came together in hopes of rekindling some fan interest for the Mets, the new team in town. In fact, he remembers reading about it. He reminded me that the Polo Grounds (home field of the Giants) was in deplorable condition and that the average attendance figures for the Giants (6,000 per game) and the Dodgers (20,000 per game) was a far cry from today’s attendance.

While much younger, local sports media personality Mike Murphy, a staunch New York sports lover, chimed in saying my older son was correct, that the blue and orange indeed represents the melding of the Dodgers and Giants colors.

How did I ever miss that all these years? Maybe I was paying too much attention to Ed Kranepool, Choo-Choo Coleman, Elio Chacon, Ron Swoboda, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, a young, pickle-brine soaking Nolan Ryan (and the very attractive Ruth Ryan), and Wayne Garrett. (And for the record, that’s without looking at any reference material, which accounts for any misspellings!)

Not doubting Mr. Murphy, but those colors look an awful lot like Syracuse University colors to me.

To Err Is
Writing this blog is like the Flying Wallendas without a net.......there's no editor to correct my gaffes. To wit:

The name of the park off the old Dump Road is Terrill Park, not Terrell Park. Hope I didn't offend any Terrells. Thanks for the editing goes to eagle- eye Paul Dallaire.

Kind of neat thing happening at Rundlett Middle School (real hard not to type Junior High, but I managed). The basketball coach of the boys B team is Mark Paveglio. The coach of the girls B team is Bob Paveglio, father of Mark.

So Bob and Mark get to ride the bus together to away games, chat about game strategy before and after the games, kibitz at practices, and just hang around like buds.

Kind makes your heart skip a beat, doesn't it?

Way Back and (thankfully) Out of Here
There are a number of us who yelled “hurrah” when the Red Sox deep-sixed Jerry Trubiano from its radio broadcast team. Apparently, Boston Globe sports writer Nick Cafardo didn’t see things the same way. In one of his Sunday sports sections this month, Cafardo added the following in his Appropos of Nothing segment:

“5. I still can’t understand why the Red Sox let Jerry Trubiano go.”

My guess, Mr. Cafardo, is that being a sportswriter – even the Red Sox beat writer for a while – you don’t have the opportunity to listen to many Red Sox games on the radio. If you did, you would understand what the rest of us understand: Trubiano was horrible and will not be missed. Sorry. He’s probably a great guy. But thankfully I have listened to my last “Way back!” only to find out that the shortstop is camped under a pop fly. And I won’t miss the inane bantering between Trubiano and Joe Castiglione that either went nowhere or agitated Castiglione, who, by the way, is not one of my favorites either.

That’s what happens when you grow up listening to Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin, Ken Coleman, Bob Prince (Pittsburg), Jim Woods (Pittsburg), and Bob Murphy. Trubiano and Castiglione just don’t stack up.

New Trade Manny Idea
If you don’t read Bill Simmons ( at under the Page 2 section , you are missing out. One of his recurring features is his Mailbag edition. Some of his readers are just plain creative and his answers are equally entertaining. Such as this creative way of dealing with Manny Ramirez:

Mailbag: The Sox should just tell Manny he got traded to Boston. He won't know the difference.--Mike H, Noxen, N.H.

Sports Guy (Simmons): I love this idea. They could go all out with this: Call him up, tell him he's been traded to Boston, have him pack up all of his stuff, fly him in circles in the team jet for five hours, then drop him off in Cambridge and tell him he's on the West Coast. He might fall for it. By the time the season starts, it will be too late for him to complain. I really think this could work.


Jim Veacock
His long right arm would shoot out from behind the old fashioned bubble chest protector. It would take a mini-pump before heading straight up as the man bellowed, "Steee-riiiiiiike." You could hear him all over the White's Park field, along White and Beacon Streets, and partway up Charles Street.

Jim Veacock umpired more of our games than anyone else. You may have argued with him on occasion or not liked his strike zone from time to time, but you always knew he was doing his best.......and you could guarantee that he knew the rules so if something funky happened, he'd make it right.

For me he was more than just an umpire. In my sophomore year of college I decided to take up umpiring as a means of making some money. Veacock was right there ready to help me learn the intricacies of positioning, strike zones, command of the game, and most of all, the rules. We'd work games together and talk baseball rules between innings and on the ride to and from the games.

He shared his knowledge and experiences with us because he wanted us to succeed, to carry the Concord umpiring torch on when he decided to get done.

Armed with my own supply of Knotty Problems baseball rules puzzlers first supplied to me by Walter Smith, I'd pick Veacock's brain for answers to the trickier questions. And he'd give me some from his own personal experiences. For a kid who loved the inside part of baseball, these meetings with Veacock were a pure joy.

Like other talented people in Our Town - the Old Scout, Ruel Colby comes quickly to mind - Jim Veacock likely could have taken his chest protector, his old mask soldered together in a dozen or more spots, and his balls/strikes indicator and umpired at much higher levels. Instead he chose to stay in Concord and our town's history is that much richer for it.

He moved away from Concord a number of years ago, after retiring from the Post Office. He spent his later years in Florida, reportedly umpiring games well into his 70s.

Now the local newspaper brings us the news that Jim Veacock, Umpire, has passed away at the age of 90.

Rest in peace, Jim.

Paul Dupont
His name didn't appear in bright lights, his ego such that it didn't need stroking for his great and wonderful deeds performed in the world of Concord education. Nor did he ever need to chase his just rewards for teaming with his buddy Tom Thurston to keep Camp Fatima and Camp Bernadette afloat when both camps teetered on the brink of closing.

As directors of the two camps, they could have chucked it and let the camps close. But instead Dupont and Thurston put together video tapes (or was it slide shows?) and ventured off to Long Island and New Jersey in search of kids who would benefit from a summer or two or three in New Hampshire's wonderland.

The success of the two camps can't be measured in any quantitative means. But the love kids who attended the camps developed for each other has lasted much longer than a summer stay. Indeed, the bonds these kids developed have stayed with them forever.

And Paul Dupont was the common denominator for all of these kids.

When the tragedy of September 11, 2001, struck, I happened to be passing Paul's School Street house around noontime. Earlier in the day, a friend of mine had told me that many of the kids who attended Fatima over the years had jobs in and around the Twin Towers and that Paul Dupont had kept in touch with them over the years.

As I turned onto North Spring Street, Paul was coming down his back stairs. I pulled over and we talked. He was stunned - naturally - by the tragedy of the morning, and tears were welling in his eyes as he was thinking aloud of all the great campers - well educated, full of promise -who had moved on in life and taken jobs in New York City.

He had kept in touch with so many of the kids that his mind was racing, wondering which ones were in NYC that day, which ones had escaped the destruction, and sadly which ones were not as fortunate.

Kids - now adults - many of whom escaped the tragedy that day were at Paul's funeral last fall, bonding with friends from years gone by, honoring a person who made a difference in their lives.

Paul Dupont had that effect on the lives of many people in Our Town and beyond.

Betty Hoadley has written a eulogy for Paul that will appear in an upcoming newsletter for the Concord teaching community. She has graciously allowed me to print her thoughts.

"If a filled church for a memorial mass is a testament to a life well lived, then Paul Dupont must have had a life especially well lived.

On Saturday, October 21, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Dupont, an educator with 37 years of service to the Concord School District. He had been a teacher at Walker School, Broken Ground School and Rundlett Middle School. He had the unique distinction of having served as assistant principal at the middle school as well as serving as principal at the Garrison , Walker and Conant schools earlier in his career.

Dupont has been characterized as a “straight shooter,” one who “called a spade, a spade,” and one who clearly let you know how he felt about a matter. Though not trained as a school guidance counselor, he gladly took on that role with Concord school students and with his campers (and staff) at his long time summer work at Camp Fatima. Young people listened to Paul and trusted him. Many of his students were appreciative of the way he explained mathematics, emphasizing the logic and relevance of the skills he was teaching.

Paul Dupont was a people person with adults as well. Staff members liked to work with him and for him. His stability, his interest in every staff person and his ever-present smile resulted in good school morale. As one secretary at Rundlett put it, “He was a joy to work for.”

Dupont’s interest and involvement with Concord athletics was both varied and continuous. He served as the first CHS varsity men’s hockey team coach at a time when the games were played at White Park. His wife, Bev, remembers him returning home at midnight on winter evenings after spending some cold hours spraying the rink to make a new and perfect surface. He was active in the Concord Youth Hockey program for many years. And in more recent years, he served as ticket seller and ticket taker at CHS games and matches. Why he even joined the “mall walkers” group after he retired from the school district! Looking around at his funeral, one could see representatives of all these groups, and others as well.

Paul and Bev Dupont raised five children, all of whom went to Concord schools. The next generation includes 14 grandchildren. It is a close and supportive family with their adult children having many memories of a typical Concord childhood made better still by summers spent at the church camp in Gilmanton. Though Paul was a professional educator and a faithful community volunteer, he balanced that with being a devoted and attentive father.
Concord is fortunate to have so many men and women citizens like Paul Dupont who care so much about this community, care about its young people and actually make differences in their lives. He exemplified a unique blend of educator and volunteer. We thank him for all of that. And, along with his family, we mourn his having left us." - Betty Hoadley

Rest in peace, Paul. Your deeds are done and your memory will carry on.

Jeff Smith

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Band of Brothers (The Lovejoy Boys) by Bobby York

Bobby York, from the South End Yorks and Rollins Park, writes for the Greenfield, Mass. Recorder, and found a topic that should be near and dear to the hearts of many of us Concord natives.

Carl Lovejoy, from the South End Lovejoys and Rollins Park, has spent most of his life since early teens in and around the private school scene. A graduate of St. Paul's School and Colby College, Carl has three boys, all of whom have starred in athletics at Deerfield Academy.

Yorkie does a great job bringing us up to date with the travels of the Brothers Lovejoy. Enjoy......Jeff

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Little Holiday Cheer

Catcher of the Decade

For you younger folks, this might be hard to understand or even believe, but it is true. Back in the day – that being the 50s and 60s for me – the powerhouse college baseball team of the Northeast region wasn’t UMaine. Wasn’t Boston College. Wasn’t UConn. Wasn’t Providence. No, those schools all became regional and national powers a bit later on.

(While I have a hard time understanding why UNH dropped its baseball team, I’m dumbfounded as to why Providence College dropped its program.)

The Beast of the East was none other than Springfield College. Yup, the school that is now a Division III program was a Division I power. Complete with legendary coach and players being drafted in the professional ranks annually.

No, I haven’t been sniffing the Tide box from Mr. Foy’s store. Haven’t even been chewing on some stale baseball card gum left over from Sammy Dahood’s market. And I haven’t munched on some old mint julep candies at Dan’s Market.

(Concord Quiz 1: Please! If anyone can tell me where Dan’s Market was in Concord, I’d be thrilled. Concord National LL used to have a team called Dan’s Market in the 50s and no one around these parts can tell me where it was…..but I digress.)

Springfield College, coached by the legendary Archie Allen, was a power. So strong, in fact, that it went to the College World Series in Omaha a couple of times. Yes, the very same College World Series that is now on ESPN in the spring every year. And one trip to the College World Series included the late Walter Smith, a catcher for Springfield, who went on to a lengthy career as the executive secretary of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association.

(Concord Quiz 2: Name Walter and Robin Smith’s five kids. Extra points if you put them in the proper order by age.)

So why does Springfield College come up in this holiday season?

Because they just selected their all-time team of the decades and James Sutton Watson (CHS ’64, Springfield ’68, ’70) –Promaker to his buds at White’s Park – was selected as the catcher on the Team of the 60s.

Congrats, Jimmy Cat Pro. Humble as you are, that’s a great honor.

Might even put you in the running for White’s Park Man of the Year.

(Congrats can be sent to:

What Goes Around, Comes Around

You all know that Jason Smith, he of the fabled Merrimack Valley basketball teams of the late 80s and early 90s, is the highly successful men’s basketball coach at Brewster Academy.

What you may not know is that his assistant coach is long-time New Hampshire high school hoops mentor Al Simoes, who just happened to coach at Merrimack Valley in the late 80s when Scott Drapeau and Company were just beginning their surge to stardom.

Now he sits beside Jason on the Brewster bench watching a collection of Division I talent romp up and down the floor.

(And if you’re into star-gazing of the college basketball coaching variety, then you need to stop by the Smith Center -no relation, Jason claims - on the school’s Wolfeboro campus. Not at every New Hampshire high school gym could you sidle up to, oh say, Steve Alford, bedecked in his black and gold Iowa University early-winter jacket and just quietly watch 40 minutes of basketball.)

A Shiny Head, a Nickname Forever

Once upon a time, many years ago, the young men (boys) of Our Town wore their hair considerably shorter and far less styled then today. In fact, folks like George the Barber (Washington Street) made a career of providing the North End kids with haircuts called fuzz ball, crew, and whiffle.

So when classmate Jimmy Golden had his hair cut real short when he was a student at Rundlett Junior High, one didn’t expect much to happen.

But it did. One of the guidance counselors at Rundlett was flat out bald. So bald that kids called him Chrome-Dome…..out of earshot, of course, unless you wanted a forced vacation at home or with the truant officer.

Somehow the low shearing of Jimmy Golden’s hair spawned a new nickname for him, one that has stuck to this very day: Tucker, aptly named after Mr. Tucker from RJHS .

I’m betting my next bottle of Jic Jac that there are a significant number of our classmates who have no idea that Tucker Golden’s real first name is James.

So how come this comes up now? Because Edward L. Tucker, the RJHS guidance counselor with the bald head, passed away recently.

And Jimmy Golden is still Tucker to all of us.

Mr. Tucker's obit:

Last One Standing

You’ve heard me expound on how blessed Our Town was with the number of large familys who had all boys….in fact all athletic boys. The Callahans, the Knees, the Ceriellos, and the Kallecheys all wore out the ballfields and the ice rinks in Concord playing nearly ever sport available to them in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

So it is that my condolenses go out to old pal George Kallechey and his relatives on the passing of his uncle Harry Kallechey, the last Kallechey brother standing of that generation.

The Brothers Callahan, Ceriello and Kallechey are all now passed on leaving three of the four Knee brothers (Ron, Bobby and Doug) to carry the torch.

Not Fashionably Late for This One

Always got a kick out of reading a newspaper report about one of the kids I coached in Little League or in basketball as they made their way up through the high school athletic systems. Also loved the feeling of going to the Will Call window to pick up your special tickets to the games.

So I can't even imagine what it was like recently for Bill Haubrich, The Current (as opposed to The Elder or the Younger), when found out that his national athletic director conference this year was in Anaheim. Naturally he quickly checked the NBA schedule to see who the Lakers or Clippers were playing and much to his delight, the Lakers were scheduled to play the Spurs, with former CHS star Matt Bonner.

That meant Bill could see his former player play.

In person.

In Los Angeles.

At the Staples Centers as a guest of Bon-Bon.


Of course dining with Bonner the night before the game and meeting some of the celebs on game night (so wouldn't you like to meet Eva Longoria?) also made for an enjoyable time on the West Coast.

Itchy Boom

Our vet tech at Doggie Daycare (honestly, I wouldn't lie to you) explained to us that there is a procedure to take care of our dog doing the heinie scootch (her term, not mine - literal human translation: scratching your ass). It's called "squeezing your anal glands."

Stop right now: Betcha can't even put the thoughts you're having into a coherent sentence, can you?

Deal or No Deal

No reason to count the ballots. The National Human Resources Person of the Year award goes to the person in charge of hiring the 26 case carrying young laides on Deal or No Deal. Job well done, my friend. One would have to be blind to think Howie Mandel is the main attraction on that show.

And in case you're wondering: 17-10-3 in that order and I'd be a happy camper for a long time. On the other hand, Mrs. Off My Wall wants a replacement for No. 13. Says she is ugly. Funny, but I haven't made it up that far yet.

Name Change

Despite the accusations of being too 03301-centric, I must confess that I have no idea which Terrell family was honored by having a park named after him/her/them off the old dump road bordering the Merrimack River a block up from Exit 13.

But I do know that after the recent ConMon revelations of homosexual activity in the park, I'd be asking the City - no, make that DEMANDING the City - to remove my name from anything to do with that park.

Escaping the Wrath

So how come no one's bringing up J. D. Drew's lack of base running ability? Did you forget already?

Late last summer we almost doubled over in laughter watching SportsCenter as Met catcher Paul LoDuca tagged out the slow-footed Jeff Kent and Drew on the very same play at the plate with Drew arriving at home only seconds after the piano-bearing Kent was tagged out.

Of course, I went right to the Dodgers media guide to see if Wendall (Wave 'Em Home) Kim was coaching third for the Dodgers.

He wasn't.

Prove It!

I pay attention to major league baseball. Always have. So much so that when my oldest son told me that somewhere on the Internet he found that the color of the New York Mets baseball hats (black, blue and orange) honors the New York Giants (black and orange) and Brooklyn Dodgers (blue) leaving New York prior to the 1958 season, I gulped.

Never have I ever heard such a thing. Not then when the Dodgers and Giants left for the West Coast and not since.

So unless someone can prove to me otherwise, I'm siticking with my contention that some recent marketing or public relations person for the Mets thought it would be a neat thing to say.

But I don't believe it for a minute. It is just happenstance.

Fantasy Baseball

Towards the end of the regular major league baseball season, my wife and I were shopping at the Home Depot in Concord at about closing time. We were in the back of the store near the lumber racks when I picked up a long dowel and took a hitter's pose.

The kid working the area saw me and smiled, acknowledging that there's no bad time for a ball game. I agreed, naturally, and told him this was the first season in a long time that I was not following the Red Sox deep into the season and into the playoffs.

The kid, not yet 20 years old, said he too was bummed out by the Sox, but even more so because his fantsty team had just been knocked out of their playoffs.

Mrs. OMW, who has great disdain for my fantasy baseball involvements ("No different than grown women playing with Barbie dolls!"), all but vomited and immediately headed for the front of the store knowing that I'd be tied up in conversation for at least ten minutes discussing players, statistics, and future plans in Make Believe Baseball as she call it.

He’d Be Better Off Not Listening

Let me get this straight. Dice-K comes to America and can’t speak a word of English. He signs a mega contract and then listens to hordes of media types asking him questions in a language he can’t understand. Think about it: Bob Ryan talks at the speed of light. Glenn Ordway talks loudly over everyone. Tony Massoratti squeaks like he’s inhaled helium. Sean McAdams talks so low and slow that you think he might stop dead in his tracks in mid-sentence. Pete Sheppard talks like he still has last Sunday’s dinner stored in his esophagus. And Hazel Mae has been so styled up that she doesn’t look Asian anymore.

Then Dice-K goes into the Red Sox clubhouse and sees this guy with a perfectly bald head (Francona) who looks like he should be an emperor in a neighboring country. Then a huge black man (Ortiz) with wrap around sunglasses who sparkles from all the bling. And another big black man (Manny) with a funky hair-do sitting in the corner coloring in his latest color book. And a good-sized white guy (Schilling) with a mullet who seems to be unable to talk unless a camera is staring him in the face.

And think about this: All of Dice-K’s English lessons will be thrown out the window if Clemens shows up in June because nothing he says makes much sense.

Just be thankful that Pedro and Ricky Henderson aren’t with the Sox anymore.

Yup, welcome to Boston, Dice-K. You’ll just love it here if you can understand anything that anyone says.

Happy holidays to you all. May the new year be one filled with joy.

And just think: Every day that goes by means it's one day closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.

Joy to all.

Jeff Smith