Keeping Score: Recount
Recently I wrote that Bob Benoit founded the Mass. State Police boxing team, inspired by his days as a four-round fighter who traded punches for $50 a match in smoke-filled joints around southeastern Mass. and Providence.
Retired sheriff Fred Macdonald saw the item and called his old pal from the police force, and Benoit tracked me down to set the record straight. “I was a main event fighter not just a four-rounder,” he protested. “Fred called me three times that day giving me grief.”
He referred me to boxrec.com, the go-to site for boxing records. There I learned his career had begun in 1966 when he was 20-years-old and he knocked out Dave Horne at the Four Seasons Arena in Walpole. He continued to fight four- and six-rounders until 1968, when he won a 10-round unanimous decision over Stewart Gray in Nova Scotia.
All told, Benoit fought 15 ten-rounders and one 12-rounder. Twice he fought for the New England light heavyweight title, losing both times to Eddie Owens at the Memorial Auditorium in Worcester.
For his contributions and ongoing devotion to the sport he was inducted into the Mass. Boxing Hall of Fame by Ring 4, the state’s sole boxing organization. Other inductees include former state auditor Joe DiNucci and the late Tommy McNeeley, a New England heavyweight champion from Arlington who was KO’d by Floyd Patterson at the Maple Leaf Gardens in 1961.
Benoit said his most memorable fight was a ten-rounder against Argentinian Jose Roberto Chirino at Embassy Hall in North Bergen, New Jersey in 1971. “I dropped him twice in the second round and held on to get the decision. Six weeks later he fought Nino Benvenuti and had him down in the third and seventh rounds. At the time, (Benevenuti) was the No. 1 middleweight contender.”
Benoit retired from boxing in 1974. He’d fought 275 rounds with a record of 37-8 with 12 knockouts. Now he wants to get Macdonald back in the ring. “In Bermuda Freddy fought a guy 20 years younger than him and went the distance. He was tenacious. I’d like to arrange an exhibition between him and (retired Worcester sheriff) Mike Flynn. He’s 83. We could pack the house.”
Northfield’s Ray Zukowski forwarded my review of Ben Bradlee Jr.’s book about Ted Williams to friends in Seattle. Susan and Tom Young are avid baseball fans with strong ties to the Northeast. He taught at the Berkshire School in Sheffield where the baseball field is named in his honor, and her parents had a camp in New Brunswick close to where Williams fly fished on the Miramichi River.
“My parents were members of a fishing club on the Miramichi and the club’s property was right across the river from Ted’s. Every morning, my mother would be fishing and see Ted. Not having a clue who he was she’d wave and call good morning to him, unaware of any protocol against being noisy while fly fishing on the Miramichi.
“One day, a big car drove up to my parents’ camp, out got Ted and wanted to know where the lady was who kept calling ‘Good morning’ and waving to him everyday. He was quite polite, but Mum did learn a fishing lesson.”
Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin didn’t go to one knee and fist pump after putting the puck past U.S. goalie Jessie Vetter in overtime. Instead she simply raised her stick and accepted her teammates’ congratulations.
Maybe she read Bobby Orr’s book. “I was never really big on celebrating goals,” Orr writes. “I know most guys like to celebrate after scoring, but I always found it disrespectful. It’s not the way I played the game.”
While we’re on it, women’s hockey is in trouble at the Olympics. Softball was dropped after the 2008 Olympics and now hockey needs to be more competitive. Canada beat Slovakia 18-0; the U.S. skunked Russia 13-0. In the semifinals Canada outshot Switzerland 48-22 and the U.S. outshot Sweden, 70-9.
“There is a discrepancy there, everyone agrees with that,” warned IOC president Jacques Rogge. “We cannot continue without improvement.”
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the Kentucky Derby two months hence. In Las Vegas the futures book lists Shared Belief, Honor Code and Cairo Prince as lukewarm 8-to-1 co-favorites.
Last week, Intense Holiday won the Risen Star Stakes under Mike Smith at the Louisiana Fairgrounds at 5-to-1, and Wildcat Red won the Fountain of Youth by a nose at Gulfstream Park under Luis Saez at 9-to-2.
Today two undefeated colts will duel in the mile-and-sixteenth Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, In Trouble under Joe Rocco Jr., and Samraat under Jose Ortiz.
The Run for the Roses is nine weeks from today but fret not, our man with the golden horseshoe John Dobrydnio is zeroing in on the winner.
UMass needed a quarterback so they got a guy named Frohnapfel, as in, Just call me Blake. Frohnapfel’s a transfer from Marshall where he was a backup to Conference USA player of the year Rakeem Cato. “Obviously it was the playing time,” he told the Huntington (W. Va.) Herald-Dispatch. “Cato has a year left and he’s played fantastic the last two years.”
Frohnapfel’s the most ballyhooed of the seven quarterbacks on the spring roster. At Marshall he completed 35 of 45 passes for 386 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Squibbers: The Keene Swamp Bats have landed three players from the University of Virginia including freshman pitcher Jack Roberts, a two-time high school All American from Richmond. The Cavaliers were ranked tops in the country before losing their last two games... Former Red Sox play-by-play announcer Jerry Trupiano is filling in on Sirius-XM’s baseball channel, most recently with former GM Jim Duquette on Power Alley.... At last month’s Golden Gloves finals, Turners Falls’ Kevin Koldis was called to ringside to accept a plaque because his company Porter and Chester Institute is one of the event’s main sponsors..... NFL analyst Pat Kirwan asked Reggie Bush the moment he knew he was good. “My first Pop Warner game,” said Bush. “I scored eight touchdowns.”.... Three weeks from today the baseball season begins at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia where the Dodgers will play the Diamondbacks. Ticket prices inside the 48,000-seat stadium range from $89 to $499. The first pitch is 7 p.m. their time, 4 a.m. Eastern time and 1 a.m. on the West Coast, 7,497 miles from Sydney. “I can’t think of one reason to be excited about it,” said Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke.
It was sad to read of the recent passing of Frontier Regional School sports figures Myron Rokoszak and Marshall Aronstam. Both left lasting legacies on the school’s landscape. Aronstam was a ubiquitous presence at Frontier’s athletic events and was never afraid to convey his fierce loyalty to the school.
Rokoszak was a teacher, coach and administrator. On the gridiron he carried the same rugged demeanor as when he was a standout lineman at Amherst College. Those who crossed him heard about it, including myself. When Ware High School coach Jim Talarico accused him of running up the score the previous week, Rokoszak was there to meet him at the bus when the team pulled into town.
The year he coached Frontier to the Super Bowl he told his players, “This is just gravy.”
Pausing for effect he added, “But I like gravy.”
Louie Bresciano passed away this week, leaving us with yet another good natured character gone from the local sporting scene. Not many remember him playing goalie when the Collins-Moylan Arena first opened. There he was stopping shots and hollering for more against the likes of Juice Moore, Rabbit Graves, Doug Stotz, Bob Weiss and John and Jerry Kells. He lost the gear but never the spirit and his friends have one less comrade with whom to reminisce.
Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.