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Until last Patriot’s Day, there was a sense of detachment; that the evil was far enough away not to worry for family and friends. But this time I had people calling me, asking me if I was all right. This time the death and chaos was less than 90 miles from my doorstep, in our state and in a city where many of us have traveled, to the ball game or the aquarium or the museum, a simple day trip.
This time when I saw the “breaking news” on television I didn’t turn up the volume but turned it off and tuned into WBZ Radio in Boston, the station my father listened to on car rides to Fenway Park or up to the White Mountains. This time a local station was reporting a bombing heard round the world.
For years during my early adulthood I’d celebrate spring by driving to the Hub on Patriot’s Day and watching the Red Sox at 11 a.m., followed by a leisurely stroll down to Kenmore Square to see the marathon runners slogging on toward the finish line.
The perpetrators of Monday’s bombings have been caught, cornered and killed yet the motives remain murky. Meanwhile more soldiers will die far from our shores and others will be injured, all of which puts an exclamation point on next weekend’s Ice Stars for Wounded Warriors at the Mullins Center.
Turners Falls’ Kerry Togneri organized the event because seven years ago in Iraq, an improvised explosive device had injured her son Ryan. This was her way of honoring him and others, including Deerfield’s Greg Belanger who was killed by an IED during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and Gill’s Chris Demars who was injured two years ago by a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
The two-day event includes a men’s hockey tournament starting Friday, a parade around campus on Saturday afternoon and a figure skating show that night.
Demars will be the parade’s grand marshal, leading a procession that will include 2013 Rhode Island Miss USA Cara Lustig, 2012 Miss Massachusetts Taylor Kinzler, and paralympian Rob Jones, US Marine retired.
Oksana Masters, a 24-year-old Ukrainian-born paralympian, pulled out of the event on Friday citing scheduling changes. Masters was born with multiple birth defects, including both legs that were amputated. Her deformities, she said, were caused by radiation from a nearby nuclear power plant. “In my village, they actually had frequent leaks, the radiation would just leak out.”
She was orphaned in the Ukraine and subsequently adopted by an American speech therapist named Gay Masters of Louisville, Ky. Despite her handicaps, she took up rowing and last year became the first-ever U.S. athlete to medal in mixed doubles sculls at the London Paralympics. Also last year she accepted ESPN’s request to pose naked for its annual body issue.
“When I had my legs amputated it was hard for me to be positive and feel pretty,” she explained. “Many people don’t know that someone with a disability can be strong and beautiful and successful as an athlete.”
The ice show will feature Olympians Todd Eldredge and Mirai Nagasu and the net proceeds will help American soldiers who’ve been wounded in action. The two previous events have raised a combined $16,000.
Tickets are $12 and $7 and can be purchased at the Mullins Center box office from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free for children of military personnel aged 13 and under. Parking is free.
Two members of the national champion Yale hockey team are Deerfield Academy grads. Senior Antoine Laganiere of Quebec scored 68 points in 58 games for the Big Green. Laganiere had a goal in Yale’s 3-2 OT win against UMass-Lowell in the semifinal and notched an assist in the Bulldogs’ 4-0 win against Quinnipiac in the final.
The 6-foot-5, 214-pound Laganiere agreed to terms with the Anaheim Ducks on a two-year entry-level contract on Tuesday.
Sophomore Alex Ward of Burlington, Vt., played three seasons at Deerfield and had 54 points in 68 games. Ward saw limited action this season and didn’t dress for the championship game.
Football broadcaster Pat Summerall, who died this week, played 11 years in the NFL and kicked 100 field goals.
“You knew it was a big game on the schedule whenever Pat Summerall and John Madden showed up,” said former Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon.
Though Summerall’s given name was George Allen Summerall, his nickname — Pat — was derived as an acronym for “point after touchdown.”
The Tampa Bay Rays are the worst-hitting team in the majors with a .217 average through Thursday. While getting swept three straight by the Red Sox last weekend they scored three runs and hit a collective .139. It’s rare to see a team so close to the Mendoza Line, a term named after infielder Mario Mendoza who batted below .200 in five of his nine major league seasons.
The Seattle Mariners have had MLB’s lowest batting average for three straight years, and their .233 average in 2011 is the lowest of any team this century. To prevent this season from becoming a lost cause, the Rays will need to call up top prospect Wil Myers who was acquired during the off-season from the Royals. Myers is batting .317 with the Durham Bulls and can replace either Shelly Duncan (.214) or Sam Fuld (.080) in the outfield.
Squibbers: Hate the Yankees all you want, but to honor Boston on Tuesday they had a moment of silence during the game followed by a rendition of “Sweet Caroline.” ... It’s not like Carlos Quentin wasn’t used to it. When Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke drilled him on April 11, it was the 116th time he’d been hit by a pitch. The Indians’ Jason Giambi leads among active players with 175 HBPs, followed by Alex Rodriguez (167) and Derek Jeter (163). ... Asked if players keep track of their stats, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford replied to a reporter, “We kinda have to because it’s on a huge scoreboard right in front of us.” ... Red Sox attendance at Fenway is down 26,124 through the first six games compared to last year. The turnstiles aren’t spinning as quickly in the Bronx either, where attendance is off by 19,364 through the first seven games. ... Four years ago Vlad Guererro was making $15 million playing for the Angels; this year he’ll be making confederate money playing for the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. ... Those aforementioned Tampa Bay Rays must be feeling like Vance Law, who once said of his cold bat, “When you’re in a slump it’s almost as if you look out at the field and it’s one big glove.”
Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.