Keeping Score: Rhode’s scholar grabs tie

Friday, June 30, 2017

Good morning!

Paul White (a pseudonym) and his Ocean State caddy chronies were rooting for Daniel Berger to win last week’s Travelers Championship in Cromwell. A Boston College grad, White got out of the investment business during the ’08 recession and became a full-time caddy.

He works at Shelter Harbor on the Rhode Island shore in summer and drives to South Florida to work at the Dye Preserve in the winter. “I caddy with Berger’s younger brother, Johnny, who can hit it down the chute,” said the 45-year-old White. “We don’t really work for these clubs, we’re independent contractors, but we take pride in our affiliations.”

Although most members are courteous and generous, White recalls the insufferable blowhard — a visiting college athletic commissioner — who “handed me his pitching wedge like it was a dirty handkerchief.”

Golf’s top echelon is a close-knit group and a year ago Matt Doyle pulled some strings to help Berger get a membership at Shelter Harbor. Doyle’s the head pro at Misquamicut and a New England PGA Section champ. “These guys all know each other and getting a PGA guy into a club is good for business,” said White.

A former PGA Rookie of the Year, Berger used his Shelter Harbor membership to practice on the northern greens before teeing off at the Travelers. He carded three birdies on the last four holes to push Jordan Spieth into a sudden-death playoff, but Spieth is fast becoming the new Tiger Woods. The ten-time PGA Tour winner drained a 60-footer out of a greenside bunker to win the $1.2 million top prize.

Rhode Island has a rich tradition with the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett, and the first U.S. Amateur, which was played in 1894 at the Newport Country Club. It’s home to pros like Brad Faxon, Billy Andrade, Dana and Brett Quigley. 

“Now we have a new young gun to root for,” said White. “Berger’s one of our own.”

The site of the former Hinsdale (N.H.) Race Track is now just a plot of unsold property next to Walmart. It opened for harness racing in 1959, and one of its first PR directors was a retired National League umpire named Bill Jackowski.

Jackowski was behind the plate when Bill Mazeroski hit the home run that beat the Yankees in 1960. While the Bucs celebrated, Jackowski walked off with Maz’s batting helmet.

That was before anyone cared about such things. Sports Illustrated even mentioned it in Jackowski’s obituary. 

He was born in North Walpole, N.H., and is buried with his wife Endla on the other side of the river at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Westminster, Vt.

Jackowski was one of my first interviews, and he was rough on me. When I asked if he ever blew any calls he leaned over his desk and yelled, “Never! Not here! Not in the heart!”

He waved me off like I’d taken a called strike three. “You’re no different than any of ’em,” he said, presumably meaning sportswriters.

Welcome to the big leagues, kid.

Former Brattleboro Reformer sports editor Garry Harrington has written a book published by the Appalachian Mountain Club. I worked with Garry in publicity at Hinsdale. He was an intense, restless soul but we got along and he helped me with the track’s new computer system. “You were trying to re-invent the wheel,” he said of my botched attempt to lay out the newsletter.

A few months ago at the Four Leaf, I picked up a copy of The Commons of Brattleboro and saw Randolph T. Holhut’s review of Harrington’s book: “Chasing Summits: In Pursuit of High Places and an Unconventional Life.”

“Climbing Mt. Monadnock 60 times in 2000 whetted his appetite for more mountains,” wrote Holhut.

Harrington lived out of his van and worked part-time at UPS to earn enough money to climb mountains from New England to Mexico. According to Amazon.com, “He’s one of a handful to have summitted all 66 of the accepted 14,000-footers in the Lower 48.”

“The ones who are crazy are working 9-to-5 jobs and never enjoying life,” said Harrington.

Typical Garry. What wasn’t typical was the smile on his face.

UMass hockey recruit Cale Makar was taken fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche in last week’s NHL draft. Makar’s a sidewinding defenseman who will put fans in the seats at the Mullins Center, but he won’t be around to see the program hang its first championship banner.

“No one wants to wait around for a true rebuild,” said a longtime insider. “They want the one-to-two year plans like Providence and Lowell, but this rebuild is still several years away.”

Dick Quinn’s latest dispatch from Billsville: “Just so you know, Joe DiMaggio once hit a home run on the Williamstown Little League Field off John Barrett, the future mayor of North Adams.”

Actress Doris Day had a summer home in the Berkshires and Joltin’ Joe was up for a visit. “He stopped to see some of the game and they called time and asked Joe if he wanted to take a cut. He hit it over the trees in left field.”

BASEBALL NOTES: Former Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw is up to 16 home runs and 56 RBI for the first place Brewers. GM Dave Dombrowski would like to have a re-do on that trade for injured reliever Tyler Thornburg. … The Muddy Chicken has had 226 chances at second base without an error this season. … Indians reliever Nick Goody speculated on the MLB Channel what catcher Roberto Perez told Trevor Bauer when Rangers’ power-hitter Nomar Mazara stepped into bat on Wednesday: “Let’s just spin this guy into the ground.” Bauer threw five straight curveballs and Mazara grounded out.

NFL wideout Michael Floyd used the “iced tea” defense after he tested positive for alcohol. Floyd is under house arrest for a DUI and said he’d drank several bottles of kombucha at home while watching television.

The nutrition facts on the back of kombucha state it has “naturally occurring alcohol” but doesn’t say how much.

It fizzles after it’s opened and tastes like rotten dandelion juice, but Floyd must’ve liked something about it. The judge cut him a break and sentenced him to one night in jail.

SQUIBBERS: IFC should buy the TV rights to the David Ortiz roast. Profanities prompted NESN to cancel the telecast, but it would fit well in an episode of “Brockmire.” … The Valley Blue Sox of Holyoke and Keene Swamp Bats of the New England Collegiate Wooden Bat League are second and third in attendance averaging 1,607 and 1,538 fans a game. North Adams is sixth in the 13-team league, averaging 502 a game. … Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria wrote in The Players Herald (founded by Derek Jeter) that Chris Sale is the toughest pitcher he’s ever faced in the AL East. Longoria is 2-for-27 (.074) against Sale with no homers, two RBIs and 11 punchouts. …  The Wall Street Journal reported that Ashrita Furman of Queens broke his own Guiness World Record last month by walking 71.53 meters with a powered lawnmower on his chin. …  Turners Falls’ Stash Koscinski isn’t letting his broken hip get in the way of a well-trimmed yard. “I’m finding ways to do things. I can weed-whack with my walker.” … Matt Moore was 17-4 with the Rays in 2013 and is 3-8 with the Giants this season. Defending Cy Young winner Rick Porcello is 4-10. Home runs are going out at a record pace. If you can’t juice the players, THEN juice the baseballs.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached by email at sports@recorder.com.