Jaywalking: Local link
Greenfield has a local connection to the World Series, and it has nothing to do with the fact that the majority of its residents are Red Sox fans.
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Shane Robinson is the son of Greenfield native Dan Robinson, who comes from a long line of Greenfield families.
This story started last week when sports editor Gary Sanderson was contacted by John Siano, a former teacher at Frontier Regional School, who might as well have been looking at the Shane Robinson family tree with all the knowledge he had about the family. Siano then sent along a detailed letter via snail mail, outlining four generations of the family and the connection they have to the area. Turns out Siano is married to Jean (Britton) Siano, who just so happens to be Shane’s great aunt. So here’s the connection, starting four generations back with Shane’s great-grandfather.
James (Jim) Britton was a well-known Greenfield man. He grew up in the area and became an architect, helping design buildings such as Greenfield High School, numerous buildings on the campus of UMass, and countless houses around the area, according to Siano. Britton was also very big into sports during his life, and there was one team he had a particular fondness for.
“He was an avid Red Sox fan,” Siano said. “I had the treat of watching him score a number of baseball games. He was so meticulous about it. It was so interesting to watch him keep a book.”
Britton had four daughters — Janice, Joyce, Marcia and Jean (John Siano’s wife) — and Marcia happened to marry a man by the name of Brant Robinson, who was a Greenfield native himself. Siano said that Brant (who is Shane’s grandfather) played many a ballgame on the fields in Greenfield, but he remembers Brant vividly playing at Newton Street School. When they were kids, they were being taught by the likes of capable Ump Nichols, Stan Benjamin and others around town, so Brant’s knowledge of the game had deep roots here.
Brant and Marcia gave birth to a son by the name of Dan, who was born in Greenfield. Brant and Marcia would eventually move their family to Florida, snapping the link to the area. Dan grew up and later married the woman who gave birth to Shane, now playing in the World Series.
Shane Robinson was born Oct. 30, 1984 in Tampa Bay, and it’s possible that he has never been to Greenfield. Shane was a multi-talented athlete who was an All-American at Florida State, where he was recruited to play baseball and football. He wound up choosing baseball after he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft by the Cardinals. After spending a couple of seasons in the minor leagues, Robinson was promoted to the Majors in 2009. He also played for Team USA.
Now Robinson is competing against his great-grandfather’s favorite team for the right to call himself a World Series champion. As of this writing, the Sox lead the series 3-2 headed home to Fenway Park in Boston. Robinson, who is primarily a backup, has put together a nice little postseason for himself. Coming into Monday night’s game, he had 13 postseason plate appearances with five hits for a .385 batting average. To put that in perspective, Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew has 47 postseason plate appearances and four hits. Robinson was 2-for-5 against the Red Sox entering Monday’s game, with a Fenway Park double and a run scored in Sunday night’s game.
Asked who he thought Britton would be rooting for were he alive, Siano said the late architect would likely be doing the same thing as he and Jean. “I think he would root for the Red Sox to win but he would want his great-grandson to do well,” Siano said.
So keep an eye out for No. 43 in the remaining Series games.
Maybe it’s a good time to mention a couple of former area football players who have moved on to play at the collegiate level. Former Mahar Regional School running back Isaiah Jones is in his sophomore season at the University of Maine after red-shirting his freshman season. (For those who don’t know, a “red shirt” has to sit out his freshman season but it doesn’t count against his eligibility, because collegiate athletes have five consecutive seasons to play four. Though Jones is in his third year at Maine, he is only considered a sophomore and has two more years of varsity eligibility). Jones has seen spot duty in four games for the Black Bears, rushing seven times for 84 yards, including a season-long run of 41 yards. He has caught one pass for 10 yards, although that was a big one that produced his second career college touchdown. Jones is also the second-leading kick-returner on the team, with six returns for 133 yards. Maine is 7-1 on the season and hosts Stony Brook on Saturday. ... Zach Bartak is a freshman at St. Anselm College and has seen action in five of the team’s eight games thus far. The former Greenfield High School quarterback converted to wide reciever and has caught seven passes for 54 yards. St. Anselm is 0-8 on the season. I’ve had frequent updates regarding both of the former Mahar players on the Westfield State football team in running back Brian Beauchemin and linebacker Nick Adams but will quickly throw this in here. Beauchemin is the second leading rusher on the team with 69 carries for 372 and three touchdowns in his senior season. Adams, also a senior, leads the defense with two interceptions this season, and he took both back to the house for a pair of touchdowns. He has 14 solo tackles and 19 assists on the year. Former Turners Falls running back Ryan Wilder is a freshman on the team but has not seen any action this season.
Finally, if newly appointed Hopkins Academy boys’ basketball coach Angelo Thomas is as good at coaching as he is at scavenger hunts, then look out for the Golden Hawks.
Less than one week after I ran a story about Thomas being named the coach at Hopkins, I stumbled upon him at Co-Rec Softball All-Star Dan Prasol’s Halloween gathering Saturday night, and it included a scavenger hunt around the area. As luck would have it, fiance Heather and I wound up paired up with Thomas and his wife Tiffany. With Tiffany at the wheel, we took off on the hunt and the four of us proved to be a dominant force. Thank you to the woman at CVS in Greenfield who Thomas convinced to let us wrap in toilet paper to complete the task of wrapping up a complete stranger like a mummy, and also a big thanks to the family near Hillcrest Street School in Turners Falls with the large Halloween display in the front yard that lit up the display just for us so that we could complete the task of getting a picture with the inflatable Frankenstein.
It all added up to a win for the four of us. Oh, I almost forgot. What exactly was the new head coach’s costume of choice you ask? Thomas dressed up as a 6-foot-9 Waldo from Where’s Waldo fame. His outfit did come with the thick, black-rimmed glasses as well. And here’s a vote for him wearing the get-up for his first varsity game.
Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.