• Nick Abramo

Part 3: Talking Story With The Fine Sports People Of The 'Boroughs'

Updated: Jun 5

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

-- James Joyce, "Finnegans Wake"


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Yo, yo, yo!!! I never thought I could use that line above anywhere -- ever, for any reason -- on the blank page of a story. Ahh, but I did it, and I immediately can't take credit, which, of course, goes to that master (or pretender) of the English language, Mr. James Joyce.


The line is the opener in Joyce's "Finnegans Wake," which is either a classic or a joke, depending on whom you are speaking with. My guess is that 99.3 percent of the people who pick up that 1939 novel will put it down within the first two minutes -- or less. That's because Joyce deliberately made it difficult to read.

And it can be a torturous experience for those who want information in easy bits (or bytes) and pieces.


Eh, I like a challenge, but admittedly, I have not been able to get through the whole thing and I only have a tiny grasp of what it's all about despite various times in my life when I actually read long parts of it. Some say that Joyce meant for the reader to feel like he or she is in a dream, which makes sense because, often, you only have a tiny grasp of what a dream was all about. Well, aside from my amazing accomplishment of actually getting that line down on cyberpaper for a reading audience, the reason I used it is because the picture Joyce paints with those words can also refer to my endeavors in returning (through cyberspace) to my beloved hometown of Marlboro, Mass., to write about days and sports occurrences of long ago. Like in Finnegans Wake for those who can get into the meat of it, for me, these stories I'm posting on BedrockSportsMarlboro.com are a circling back to where and whence I came:


... Assabet river run past the Rice Homestead, from swerve of Fort Meadow and Lake Williams to bend of Parmenter and Berlin Roads, brings us comfortably to a recirculation back to Longfellow's Wayside Inn, Chet's Diner and the boroughs.


I figure you get the drift of what I'm talking about ... or, like placing Finnegans Wake back on the shelf, you have clicked away from here. Literature experts agree that the structure of Finnegans Wake is a never-ending cycle, as illustrated by the fact that the closing line is an unfinished sentence and the opening line starts in the middle of one. Long ago, some genius first reader of the work figured out that -- of course -- you can put the opening and closing phrases of the book together to make one sentence and it reads thusly:


a way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.


And now that I've got you hooked on this here story (and, hopefully, also looking up Finnegans Wake on Wikipedia to get a closer look at that subject), we can move on to what's been happening lately in the world of sports in Mayberry RFD and environs. Eh, and for those who may not know, "Mayberry RFD" was a TV show, a spinoff of "The Andy Griffith Show." But many of us growing up in the 1970s and '80s use Mayberry to describe our city. So here we go with the long-awaited Part 3 of my ongoing series of notes and anecdotes that have collected in the ol' notebook after chit-chatting or texting or messaging with the fine sports people from my fine hometown and surrounding boroughs.


BILLY HEDIN, CARD COLLECTOR KINGPIN


I almost used "card collector extraordinare" in the subhead, but decided kingpin would be better for some reason to describe the guy I've known since at least junior high days.


Billy was one year behind me at Marlboro High School, Class of '79, and made a career in collectibles. The full story of his endeavors could probably be made into a book, but for now, we'll just go into a tiny fraction of it. I got to know Bill Hedin Sr., his dad, in 1981 as a rookie sports reporter at the Marlboro Enterprise. Mr. Hedin was a paste-up artist. In the mornings, we would talk sports. I also got to know Billy's brother, Danny "Papa" Hedin, who I remember being a pretty good Marlboro Senior Babe Ruth pitcher. He is now the GM at Marlboro Nissan.


Anyway, Billy recently helped me by sending photos of cards of Kenny Reynolds (Marlboro's own former major leaguer and former Panthers baseball head coach) for a story I wrote for the Community Advocate: Ken Reynolds Played Pro Baseball, But Found His True Passion In Teaching. Hedin also gave me a wealth of information pertaining to Reynolds and his brother Byron Reynolds as well as some of his own experiences in the card business. But first, here is a message from him in 2010, right after I joined Facebook: "In my 30-plus years in the card business, I met everyone from (Mickey) Mantle to (Bobby) Orr and everyone in between," he wrote. "My favorite story was at a show in Pittsburgh where Dock Ellis told me about his no-hitter while tripping on acid and speed. Dock passed away recently. He was a great and funny guy! I was at the Bruins Christmas party in the Alumni room the year before Ace Bailey died in the 9/11 tragedy. I was tight with Ace and still see (Ken) Hodge, (Gary) Doak, (Terry) O'Reilly, etc., on a regular basis. I played blackjack at Foxwoods with Pete Rose and played at the Tropicana in Vegas with Charles Barkley. I have a million stories and I should write a book!" Well, yes, you should right a book!!! Hedin also told me about many pieces of Kenny Reynolds sports memorabilia, including two from Reynolds himself described below, that he prominently displays in an antique, 10-foot display case that he says is 100-plus years old: >> "Original Lou Brock red sneakers that he gave to each teammate (including Reynolds) on the Cardinals the year he broke Cobb's (stolen base) record and before he manufactured and sold a version of these in show stores. They are red running shoes (very 70s!) that Brock hand numbered & signed then gave to each teammate! They have never been worn and are amazing!" >> "1976 Hawaiian Islander trophy bookends! Each player received a pair of (wood-carved) tiki bookends with a gold plaque commemorating the season. They are beautiful! When Kenny was with the Padres, he played in Hawaii! He was a member of perhaps the greatest PCL franchise in your area. The team of 1976 was amazing! Joe Pepitone, Diego Segui and Bobby Valentine were among his teammates."

Another part of Billy's collection: a 1880s Boston Bean Eaters (later, the Braves) solid gold pocket watch that he received from his parents (mom's name Philomena) for high school graduation. "It has a player at each spot where the numbers go on the dial and it chimed every hour," he added. Through the years, Hedin sold most of his card collection to help both of his daughters go to college, and he intends to sell more of it to help his eight grandchildren through college down the road. After reading my Kenny Reynolds story in the Community Advocate, Hedin reminded me about the contribution Kenny's older brother Byron Reynolds has made to Marlboro sports.


"He knows all about the history of the Marlboro Men's Softball League," Billy said. "He did all the stats and was a great player with Cullinan Ford and Case in 8. He's had a few reunions for players from the past."

Hedin and Jay Marinoni (my former Grace Circle neighbor) have collaborated in the card business on and off since the late 1970s. Both were mentioned in the second installment of this series: Part 2: Talking Story With The Fine Sports People Of The Boroughs.


And Jay recently let me know some cool thoughts he has about Hedin: "I call Billy the Magnificent One," Marinoni said. "He's forgotten more about cards and memorabilia than nine out of 10 people in the business will ever know. He doesn't want me to tell you all this stuff, but he is the man. He's got stories from here to downtown. When it comes to cards, he is the king." I still plan on doing a story on Mike Marinoni, Jay's brother, a fantastic baseball and hockey player for Marlboro High who was taken from us too soon, tragically, in a car accident in 1977.

GIVING A NOD TO ALL THE EARLY BUILDERS OF MARLBORO JUNIOR BASEBALL

Ned Coen, whose father Ed Coen was instrumental in starting the Marlboro Pony League, is also mentioned in that Part 2 story. He is Jay's cousin.


Seeing that story gave Jay the idea to give me a string of names of the many people whose huge sacrifices made the Marlboro Junior Baseball League what it was. And anybody who played in it remembers how special it was to play at the field behind Hildreth School.


Right here, pretty much verbatim, are Jay's two phone messages on the subject:

"About the Marlboro Little League park behind Hildreth, do you know who actually put the lights in there, did the cement dugouts and built the stand and everything else? You know who that was? It was very, very many people. I got all the names. John Gamache did the lights, the Collaianni brothers did all the cement work, guys like Val Roy, Don Morgan, Joe Paul the barber volunteered their time and it goes on and on the guys that were involved in there and I'm trying to not leave people out.


"And who was president of the league the whole time, getting everybody organizing it together? Mario Marinoni (Jay's dad). Yeah, he was the one who (along with Gamache) built the lights. He was ahead of his time. He had towns like Framingham and different places calling. They were the first little league lights in Massachusetts that we knew about -- certainly in Central Massachusetts. People wanted to play under the lights and bring their all-star teams to play against Marlboro all-star teams.


"And don't forget George Baldelli. He donated the whole place. He was always over there. He was unbelievable as far as the whole thing goes. His son Steve Baldelli was a helluva athlete, a helluva pitcher. I mean, the kid probably won 10 games one year by himself, striking out 12 to 14 batters per game. Joe Mulvey a couple of years later was another one who would strike out 12 or 15. There were all kinds of great athletes back there. Baseball was the thing. There were no computers. We went and played baseball over at Jaworek School, or tackle football. It went on and on with all the sandlot stuff, unlike today."


MORE ON MARLBORO HIGH'S GIRLS ATHLETES BACK IN THE DAY


A few weeks ago, Bedrock Sports Marlboro ran a story about some former outstanding Marlboro High girls athletes from the 1970s: A Quick Look Back At Some Incredible 1970s Marlboro High Girls Athletes (And The 1978 Convention!!).

After publication, one of the sources for the story, coach Irene Mazmanian, sent some photos and more information on some of the coaches who were instrumental in leading the way back then. Here are the photos:

Some Marlboro women's athletic mentors. Standing, left to right, Irene Mazmanian, Bernie Moffa, Marge Farrell and Paula Hutch. Seated: Mary Kelleher. (Image credit: Irene Mazmanian).


Eileen Blackney running a race at an MHS track and field meet in the 1976-77 season. (Image credit: Irene Mazmanian).

The 1975-76 Marlboro High varsity girls basketball team. Patty Miller is wearing jersey No. 42. (Image credit: Irene Mazmanian).

The 1976-77 MHS girls track and field team. (Image credit: Irene Mazmanian).


The 1976-77 MHS girls varsity basketball team. Top row, left to right, Kim Detherage, Robin Lacouture, coach Irene Mazmanian, Debbie Litster and Lisa Freeman. Bottom row: Chris Risotti, Kathy Lepore, Patty Miller and Penny Miller. (Image credit: Irene Mazmanian).


MARLBORO'S SOCCER HISTORY IS A GLORIOUS ONE

Mike Burns, perhaps, is the biggest name to come out of Marlboro High soccer. He played for the U.S. Olympic team and had a long, successful career in Major League Soccer, including a stop with the New England Revolution.


His father and John Manton, I've been told, had a lot to do with the early success of Marlboro youth soccer.


And there are many other memorable names through the years who guided Marlboro High soccer to a prominent place in state circles.


I mention soccer now, kind of as a place holder because I plan to write more in-depth pieces on the state championship victories by the girls team under coach Doug Freeman and some of the top-notch boys squads in the 1970s and '80s. Joe Modugno, a fantastic center half in the mid-70s, reminded me within the past few years just how good Lenny Fulham was as a player on coach John Ludgate's early squads. Fulham is another one who we lost too early to a car accident. When I was a freshman at MHS, I remember the PA announcer talking about how great the soccer team was doing as well as the information on how to catch the bus to the districts, etc. Jorge Bolivar, an exchange student, was a top player then. Just off the top of my head, in the games I went to, I remember watching Rick Miller play goalie and Mark Tolan as a powerful left winger. Oh, there were so many more solid players, though, and we'll get their story out here at Bedrock Sports Marlboro soon enough. "Len Fulham was Marlboro's first All-State player, 46 years ago," Miller mentioned to me in a recent Facebook conversation.


Miller, who was in the Class of 1976, and the Panthers won the Central Mass. championship in the fall of 1975, then beat Belmont in the state semifinals at Hudson's Morgan Bowl before losing in the state final.

Two Marlboro soccer captains, Len Fulham and Dom D'Allesio. (Image credit: Rick Miller).

Dom D'Allesio, Brian Bane and Fulham were the captains that season. A year earlier, in the fall of '74 (with Bolivar on the team) the Panthers won the Midland League but lost in the first round of states.


Mickey Grasso Was An MHS Girls Sports Pioneer


All that aforementioned stuff about MHS girls sports goes WAY back, but the days when Mickey Grasso played goes WAY, WAY back.


Mickey is the wife of the late Ralph Grasso -- the former Marlboro Enterprise-Hudson Sun sportswriter who was also an instrumental coach and sports leader in the community -- and the mother of six boys who all played sports in the city -- David, Michael, Jay, Ralph, Joey and Chris. "My mom was a point guard initially and could not advance the ball beyond half court," Joey Grasso told Bedrock Sports in a recent Facebook conversation. "When her coaches realized she was potentially a good shooter, she was moved to front court. She scored a lot of points."


Derek Aramburu And Joey Grasso Carry Reynolds' Teachings With Them

Former Marlboro High pitcher Derek Aramburu (Class of 1984), who played in the College World Series for the University of Maine, and former catcher Joey Grasso (Class of 1982), who went on to play for Wesleyan, were two of my sources for that recent Community Advocate article about Kenny Reynolds that was referred to way back in the beginning of this story. I wanted to add some more of their recollections of Reynolds, their former coach, and that fantastic time for MHS baseball in the 1980s


"Be respectful of yourself, your opponents, your teammates and the game," Aramburu said. "That's what coach stood for and I took that from him. I've carried that through life and that's how I live now. I didn't live that way back then, when I was as brash and cocky as the next guy who could throw a baseball."


And from Grasso: "I can count on one hand the number of people I run into today that I continue to call “Coach”. Kenny Reynolds is one of them. I played for some great Marlboro coaches whose managerial styles were markedly different ffrom Coach Reynolds. For example, I had more encounters inside my helmet with Leon “Huck” Hannigan than I did on the football field. In hoops, you could always tell what Jim “Hawk” Powers had to

eat as he was not afraid to get in your face if you blew a layup or turned the ball over. My own father, Ralph Grasso Sr., often called me out.

"I was blessed to play for Coach Reynolds and the city of Marlboro was beyond lucky to have such a good, honest, humble man guiding those young minds." Grasso and Aramburu talked about some of their teammates from back in the day, too.


"Coach was a lefty and he took a guy like Mike Mulvey in and made him look like Sandy Koufax," Grasso said. "With a 68-mph fastball and a screwball he developed, "Mully" was unhittable and posted a 5-0 record with an ERA hovering around 2.00." And from Aramburu: "In 1983, coach had Mulvey, me and Rick Tourville, all lefties, starting on the mound." Aramburu rattled off just some of the other names he remembered from his time on the baseball team: Steve McStay, Scott Bemis, Billy Polymeros, Jeff DiBuono, Mike Reynolds, Jeff Jordan, Joe Battaglino, John Rabidou, Shawn Tessier, Kevin Adam, Dave Kelleher, Sal Turieo, Miguel Camacho.


FORTUNATE TO GET THE INTERVIEW WITH KENNY REYNOLDS


Before interviewing Reynolds about a month ago, a few people told me he might not want to be the subject of an article because he's so quiet and humble.


So, when he agreed to do the interview and also when it was done, I made sure to give him my sincere thanks. Marlboro folk are proud of their heroes, even if they are reluctant. And I have a bunch of leftover notes that didn't make it into the print story that I can, fortunately, put here. "They were a real good bunch of kids to be involved with," Reynolds told me about his time coaching the Panthers. "The first year we were mainly teaching them how to play together. That first year, we had a losing record, 8-10 and I tried to teach them nothing was wrong with making a mistake, but to own up to it instead of blaming somebody else."

Little things, he said, turned out big on the road to Midland League championships.


"We would do situational drills every day -- what to do in case of an overthrow, when to take an extra base, things that help to win close games," said Reynolds, who became a Project Adventure teacher at MHS, a place where the students are empowered to come up with problems to solutions on their own.


Reynolds retired in 2010. He had two stints as the Panthers baseball coach, from 1981 to '87 before switching to softball and then back to baseball. Along the way, he coached son Mike and daughter Tami.


Mike Reynolds, a shortstop for the Panthers in the mid-1980s, went on to play four years at Georgia Tech.


About his time in the majors and for an offensively challenged Philadelphia Phillies in 1972, Reynolds said, "I got hit around as much as anybody else. We were terrible. Steve Carlton (Hall of Famer) was really good. He won half of our games, 28 that year. He was a great competitor. He went out there and expected to win."

Reynolds, I was surprised to learn, used to live in Hawaii.


"My father was in the service and when his time was up in Hawaii, we moved to Marlboro," he said. "I was going to be a freshman and my brother Byron was going to be a sophomore."

For those familiar with Hawaii, the Reynolds family lived near Pearl Harbor at Radford Terrace.


Reynolds played in the PAL and Babe Ruth leagues in Hawaii.


"Our Babe Ruth team (ages 13-15) won the championship and went to nationals," he said. "I also played football in PAL with a bunch of Hawaiians and Samoans, some really good football teams."


At Marlboro High, Reynolds played football (halfback, safety), baseball and also basketball.


"In football our senior year (fall of '63), we won the state (Class C) championship," he added.


That team, coached by Frank Kronoff also had Paul "Mousey" Lombardo at quarterback, Paul Phaneuf at halfback, and Russ Flagg at center.


"And Ron Supernaut was the fullback," Reynolds added. "He was small, but the opponents couldn't find him behind the big line." Byron Reynolds was the quarterback his senior (fall of '62) year and was a shortstop in baseball.


Kenny Reynolds played center field when he wasn't pitching and he caught a couple of innings one game.


"We were beating a team pretty good and toward the last inning coach let me go in and catch," he said. "I had caught some in Little League when my brother was pitching and I always liked catching, but I was left-handed. But this time when Lombardo was pitching I went in and caught him right-handed."


A photo of Paul "Mousey" Lombardo playing softball in later years. (Image credit: Billy Hedin's Facebook page).


Which brings up another super interesting fact about the man: He could throw with either hand.


"In Legion baseball, sometimes I would play infield right-handed and even outfield right-handed sometimes," he said. And another story for the books: In the 1980s, Kenny Reynolds and former MHS science teacher, athlete and Reynolds' baseball assistant coach Bill Rigney worked together at a package store in Northboro.


I remember going in there back then and thinking that Kenny kind of looked out of place. And, it turns out, I was right.


"Because I don't drink," Reynolds said last month. "And I didn't know the names of the (alcoholic beverages). If someone asked for something, I would say, 'Where is it? Do you see it?,' and then I would help them get it. I remember checking everybody's IDs. But other than that, I had no idea what I was doing."


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Epilogue: Gotta tie it all together and bring ya' back to the long, boring introduction, right?


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a way a lone a last a loved a long the ---

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ALSO At BedrockSportsMarlboro.com: >> Part 1: Talking Story With Many Of The Ol' Sports People In The 'Boroughs'

>> Marlboro's John Winske Is A Kentucky Derby Winning Horse Owner And A Hoot And Half

>> High Tops And No Socks: An Ode To The Doctor ---


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