Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bits and Pieces While Waiting for the Snow to Melt

Mush On Mackey


There’s just no other way to say it.

The charges are many.

Paying too much attention to March Madness?


Spending too much time watching 24 and American Idol?

Guilty on both counts.

Wondering who Jim Jeannotte and I should take with the second choice in our Roto fantasy baseball league?

(For the record, I think it's coming down to Bobby Abreau or Justin Morneau. Any thoughts?)

Shackle me, your honor.

Wondering if it is actually possible for the Red Sox to go 162-0?

Solitary confinement, jailer.

Not knowing who on Earth Lance Mackey is?

To the gallows.

Lance Mackey?

You bet your sweet Crimson Tide letter sweater, Lance Mackey.

Because while the rest of us were toughing out a frigid cold snap this month – at least frigid for us – Lance Mackey, son of a genuine Concord High Class of 1950 grad, sent his dogs a’mushing in Alaska’s freezer land.

That’s right. We’re nowhere near six degrees of separation on this one.

Imagine the winner of the 2007 Iditarod Sled Dog Race, The Last Great Race on Earth, had direct ties to Our Town.

And so very few of us had any idea.

Lance Mackey is the son of Richard Mackey who graduated from Concord High, and himself won the Iditarod in 1978 by the slimmest of margins – one second, or the nose of his lead dog.

And to round out this family’s love affair with the Great Race, Lance’s brother Rick has also won the race.

So it seemed only natural that one day Lance would travel the 1,150 miles over 10 to 17 days (depending on weather conditions, of course) from Anchorage in south central Alaska to Nome, on the western Bering Sea coast and join his father and brother upon the winner’s stand.

For us less hearty souls, think Kentucky Derby, World Series, or Super Bowl.

That’s how big the Iditarod is.

And instead of saying “who’s he?” we should be dancing in the streets.

Lance Mackey, now 36 years old, never lived in Concord. He was born and raised in Alaska and has won the other huge rain in that state……the Yukon Quest. Twice in fact, including this year a couple of weeks before the Iditarod, a feat thought unattainable by sled dog enthusiasts. On top of that, he’s the record holder in the Yukon Quest.

But it was the Iditarod that he really wanted to bag.

“I grew up around racing and the Iditarod. I was at the finish line in 1978 to watch my father win by one second and again in 1983 to see Rick win.”

Both Richard and Rick wore bib number 13 in their sixth attempt at winning the Iditarod.

Naturally Lance followed suit this year, donning number 13 in this his sixth attempt at the crown.

One description of the iditarod goes like this:

It’s unlike any other event in the world. A race over 1,150 miles of the most extreme and beautiful terrain known to man: across mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra, and windswept coastline.

And we thought it was rough taking the pooch for a walk earlier this month in the near zero weather.


Check out more on the Iditarod at the link below.

Shame, shame

Kevin Gray from the New Hampshire Union Leader did a wonderful front page article, complete with picture, on Lance Mackey.

Channel 9 did an equally wonderful news/sports feature including interviews with Mackey's relatives living in the Concord area.

The hometown Concord Monitor, the media outlet with the most to gain by the success of Dick Mackey's (CHS '50) son? Near as I can figure out, the ConMon coverage was limited to a couple of paragraphs sidebar clipped from the national wire when Mackey was in the lead heading into the final day.

Someone from the UNH hockey program hiccups in front ot T-Hall and the ConMon goes five columns and a picture. But we can't get anything on Lance Mackey winning the Iditarod?

How come?

Blog On, Luke

ConMon sports columnist, Ray Duckler, provided us recently with a fine article on the literary talents of UMass hoopster and Concord native Luke Bonner, son of David and Paula Bonner. Not included in the article were the links to read Luke's writing. Here are two sites for your reading pleasure......

Familiar Face

One of the Mackey story interviewees on Channel 9 was Rita Key McDonald who most of us White Park Guys (WPGs) remember as that cute little blonde who used to skate to the music at the White's Park pond all winter long with Phonsie Ceriello and was the girl friend - eventually wife - of Denny McDonald (he of the half dozen majestically mammoth home runs onto either Earnshaw's or Pingree's White Street front lawn every Sunset League season).

Rita is a cousin to the Mackeys.

Passing Lane

Thought I had died and gone to Guy Heaven this week. After a medical procedure, a care partner wheeled me into a recovery room and told me over the next hour I could pass gas as loud and as many times as I wanted. Because that's what she wanted me to do.

And while prepping for the procedure, I realized what many of you already knew: I am full of crap!

Tournament Leftovers

Over the years I have seen my fair share of Class L boys basketball championship games. Seldom have I had the need or urge to see a taped replay of the game.

Memorial-Central overtime when Mike Flanagan fouled out and Ron Beaurivage took over. Portsmouth-Nashua from 1965 at the Concord High gym. Trinity-Portsmouth when the Pioneers' Danny Duval canned two free throws for the championship when a Clipper player called a timeout when they were out of timeouts. And, naturally, all of the Concord High championships. Yes on all accounts.

But I'd also love to see the Salem-Trinity final from this past St. Patrick's Day. That was fun from the opening toss to Stephen Savage's rainbow three at the buzzer for the Salem win.

No Manchester Central in the finals this year which seems strange. Looking for a three-peat, the Little Green were knocked off in the semis by an upstart Trinity team. Goes to show you how darn difficult it is to win three Class L championships in a row.

It has only been done twice, only once in the last 50 years (Concord High during Matt Bonner's last three seasons). Merrimack had a shot a couple of years ago and Central seemed destined for a three-peat this year.

While Central may not have been in the finals, there sure was a Central flavor on the floor. Trinity head coach David Keefe played on championship teams at Central in the 80s as well as serving as an assistant coach at Central before moving up the hill to Trinity last season. And one of his assistants - Mike Fitzpatrick - played with Keefe in high school, served as an assistant at Central, and then was the Little Green head coach for a number of years.

Note to Portsmouth High: Trinity, with an enrollment of 500 students, nearly won the Class L boys basketball championship this year with a team full of Manchester kids, few of whom will ever see a scholarship offer when the graduate from high school.

Notice I said few. They do have a freshman, who remarkably played on the JV team until the last three weeks of the season, who performed like few freshmen ever have on the UNH floor. Jordan Laguerre posted double figures in each of the three games including a 24 point output.

How should we refer to Portsmouth High now that they have dropped to Class I? Here are the choices: "Portsmouth," Portsmouth* (ala Roger Maris), or The Team Formerly Known as Portsmouth?

Call me anal. Every year I look at the NHIAA basketball program and scan through the page showing the champions by year with the scores. Sort of a mini-memory lane trip.

My stroll this year was altered: instead of the years being listed vertically in chronological order, as they have been for perhaps 50 years, they were still listed in two columns, but the years were listed horizontally.

Almost made me dizzy trying to follow along.

Anyone with some input with the NHIAA? See if you can get the listing back to a chronological, vertical format.

Early prognostication, for what it's worth: Trinity and Central will meet in the finals next year.

A chance meeting

A buddy of mine from the Seacoast shared this (true) story with me about a trip to spring training in Florida that he took many years ago.

A Portsmouth High grad, my buddy John accompanied a UNH three-sport star and his wife and kids to spring training shortly after graduating from college. The UNH football-hockey-baseball star was heading to Vero Beach for spring training with the Dodgers.

Naturally John didn't spend all of his time around the batting cage. Instead he managed to find time to loll around the pool.

While there one day, he noticed this very lovely blonde soaking up the rays. A short time later (and being no fool), John managed to walk by this beauty and their eyes made contact.

She looked familiar. Oddly, she thought the same.

"Is your name John?" she ventured.

He acknowledged that indeed it was. (I'm betting he would have said yes even if his name was Horace.)

"Are you from Portsmouth by any chance?" she offered.

Man, this was beginning to get tingly as he said once again that she was correct.

"Well, hi, I'm Cindy (last name). I went to school with you as a freshman and sophomore at Portsmouth High."

My buddy John looked at this lovely young lady and decided that she may have gone to Portsmouth High, but she sure as hell didn't look like that back then.

He stopped to chat. Come to find out, her father was stationed at Pease and after her sophomore year at Portsmouth High her father was transferred to Michigan where she finished high school and then went to Michigan State.

At Michigan State, she not only blossomed into the beauty before his very eyes, but she met her husband to be.

Now she was at Vero Beach for spring training with her hubby who just happened to be playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

My buddy John was salivating over Cindy GARVEY!

Of course, you baseball fans or fans of the rag mags at the checkout counter at the grocery stores all know that much has been written about the marriage of Steve and Cindy Garvey over the years. And she has become somewhat of a celebrity herself.

But that all came after John's chance meeting poolside in the Florida sun.

New Guy in Town

Check out the link below and see which Dartmouth College hockey player has signed an amateur tryout contract with the AHL team.

And according to his uncle Eddie, he may be playing in the playoffs against the Manchester Monarchs.

Kudos (ibid, opcit version)

I should just cut and paste this one, it seems to happen every year. Congrats go out to CWPG (for you beginners that's an acronym for Certified White's Park Guy), Allen Lessells who copped the New Hampshire Sportswriter of the Year once again.

And like two follows one, Jim Jeannotte has also won the New Hampshire Sportscaster of the Year Award, although in fairness he's actually sharing the award this year.


If you follow the college basketball scene closely, you might have noticed a familiar name in the Division II ranks. Will Monica, the 6-5" junior from the college of Saint Rose, filled the nets with 29 points including a buzzer beating three pointer in the semifinals of his conference championship to lift his squad into the finals against undefeated Bentley. Will, the younger son of Paul Monica and Betty Boyle Monica, two well known Concord natives, started all 32 games for Saint Rose this season.

Think spring.