Two nights before the Boston Marathon, Greenfield native Joe Martino was Bill Rodgers’ guest at the Mayor’s Reception at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. “It was such a festive night, incredible how things can change so quickly,” said Martino, referring to the Patriot’s Day bombing.
Rodgers and Martino have known each other since 1986 when mutual friend and running mate Tom Fleming introduced them. An outstanding runner in his own right, Martino was in fast company. Fleming won the New York City Marathon twice and Rodgers won the Boston Marathon four times.
“We became close friends and running partners, and I even moved into the carriage house on Bill’s property,” he said.
Martino is currently executive director of the Bayside YMCA in Barrington, R.I. Until 1984 he’d been the health and wellness director at the Greenfield YMCA. His only Boston Marathon was in 1971 when he finished in three-hours flat. “I was 18-years-old and in great shape. I’d trained to finish in 2:35 but it was hot and I went out too fast. After that I always skipped Boston because of the (now defunct) Greenfield Y 10K Classic. It was always the one race I wanted to win.”
“I also ran into Tommy Leonard that night,” added Martino, referring to the famed Boston bartender, runner and storyteller who founded the Falmouth Road Race. “It was his 80th Birthday and he kept talking about his high school friend and competitor Pete Conway.”
That would be Greenfield’s own Pete Conway, the retired GHS track coach.
A seismic shift is happening with sports radio in Boston, where executives at WEEI (heard locally on 105.5 FM) are hiding the recently released Arbitron winter ratings. The Sports Hub (98.5 FM) was first among all Boston radio stations in the men’s 25-54 demographic with a 9.0 share. WEEI nosedived into sixth place with a 5.2 share.
Asked to quantify the ratings measurement, Mike Thomas of CBS Radio Boston that owns The Sports Hub answered, “A nine share is really high. Anytime you’re in upper single digits or double digits, that is a significant amount of listening.”
Thomas moved to Boston from San Diego and helped engineer the switch from rock to all-sports that officially happened on Aug. 13, 2009. “Our design was to do things differently (from WEEI). We kept our rock morning show to give the format a rock feel, up tempo with an edge.”
Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb, whose morning bits include interviews with drunken fans exiting Fenway Park and TD Garden, co-host the morning drive show. “They had no experience with sports. They were a rock show but they’ve been able to mix sports with guy talk. The overall entertainment that those guys bring every day has been fantastic.”
Other weekday hosts include former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, veteran sportscaster Andy Gresh, Boston Globe columnist Tony Massarotti and former Boston Herald columnist Michael Felger, now an anchorman for Comcast SportsNet New England.
“Overall we’ve been surprised how quickly Boston sports fans have come to this station and how loyal they are,” said Thomas.
The Sports Hub’s signal fades west of Orange, but the Felger & Massarotti Show is simulcast by Comcast from 2 to 6 p.m. “We certainly hope we can change that,” Thomas said of the listening radius. “We’ve had requests to expand the brand beyond the Boston market but we’d have to create a radio network and I can’t put a timetable on when that will happen.”
Recorder stats guru Mark Durant reports that GHS baseball coach Tom Suchanek’s career record stands at 562-284, and across the river in Turners Falls softball coach Gary Mullins’ record is 561-131. Moreover, adds Durant, Mullins’ teams have won 27 straight Western Mass. playoff games, the last blemish being against archrival Greenfield and former coach Donna Woodcock in 2003.
It’s no surprise that both the Wave and Indians are unbeaten this season.
The Bruins honored Deerfield’s Mark Spencer last Sunday for his role in helping to capture marathon bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Spencer is a Mass. State Trooper who was piloting the airplane that spotted Tsarnaev hiding in a boat. During the ceremony, Jaromir Jagr pulled of his No. 68 jersey and handed it to Spencer. “It’s pretty overwhelming,” said Spencer. “We couldn’t even walk through the upstairs without people stopping and thanking us.”
“Just wanted to let you know that I wasn’t at the Boston Marathon,” emails Greenfield native Beth Davenport who now lives in Santa Fe. “I was six time zones away, in Hawaii, running the North Shore Marathon in Haleiwa to complete round two of running a marathon in every state.”
The face value for a front row seat behind the Yankees’ dugout for Tuesday night’s game against the last place Astros is $1,356.90. Yes, that’s correct, four figures to watch a baseball game. “They should be an embarrassed,” said Red Sox fan Butch Plifka, who owns Kulick’s Plaza in Winchester.
Kulick was being polite. As the guy delivering my oil said, “How the bleep can they bleeping do that?!”
Fat cats and CEOs, that’s how.
Given that the Red Sox as a team are batting .250, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to dump Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. At this writing the two castoffs were batting .382 and .319 respectively for the Dodgers. The third key player in the trade Josh Beckett is 0-3 at this writing and has allowed six home runs in 25 innings.
Beckett is making $15.75 million this season so that’s worked to Boston’s advantage, but otherwise the salary dump hasn’t helped on the field. It was likely done to offset anticipated losses at the box office, where attendance is down 54,914 from last season. There’s no way to gain ground on those numbers because every game last year was a sellout. Ergo, there’s no place to go but down.
Squibbers: Sorry to read of the passing of Bob Reid, a quiet, classy gentleman who found time to stroll the aisles and exchange greetings with the customers inside his family-owned Wilson’s Department Store. ... They’re revving ‘em up at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., where a gallon of gas needed for high performance engines costs $11.25 for 112 octane and $10.25 for 98. “Both the pump tanks hold 10,000 gallons and they’re here constantly,” a track employee said of the usage. ... Tickets for the first round of the Bruins playoffs range from $95.50 to $401.50. VIP suites are renting for $5,400. ... Resident horse racing aficionado John Dobrydnio will be here next week to give his Kentucky Derby pick. The race will feature a full field of three-year-olds, 20 horses leaving the starting gate, but the Tomato King of Colrain Road thrives on pressure. Right John?
Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.