Keeping Score: An old photo hits home

  • Greenfield native Bob Merriam is the only student-athlete in Dartmouth College history to letter in three sports (soccer, hockey and lacrosse) all four years he was enrolled at the Ivy League school in Hanover, N.H. Photo courtesy of Arcadia Publishing and History Press

Friday, September 08, 2017

Good morning!

At the Dartmouth Bookstore in Hanover, N.H., recently, I doubled back to check out a book titled “Dartmouth College Hockey: Northern Ice”, by David Shribman and Jack DeGange (Arcadia Publishing, $19.99).

The slim-bound sports volume was published in 2005 to celebrate the school’s centennial season of hockey. The Big Green’s two all-time leading scorers, Bill Riley (’46) and Gretchen Ulion (’94), are featured on the cover.

I thumbed past 1920s photos of the team practicing on the Connecticut River and playing against Columbia on Occom Pond, to when Worcester native Eddie Jeremiah returned to his alma mater in 1937. A journeyman NHL player (he had one assist in 15 games), Jeremiah combined a love for his school and his passion for the sport into a three-decade campus love affair.

“He married the two, taking (the team) to arenas across the continent, leading them to Ivy League championships, guiding them to NCAA tournaments (and) contributing them to Olympic teams,” wrote DeGange, who was Dartmouth’s Sports Information Director.

A cog in Jeremiah’s success during the mid-1940s was a diminutive skater from Greenfield named Bob Merriam. The editors show him skating toward the camera wearing his Dartmouth jersey and holding his stick in both hands. The caption reads: “A steady wing on outstanding teams from 1946 to ‘48, Bob Merriam declined an invitation to the 1948 Olympic Games. His brother, Lou (better known as Junie), was a member of the Class of 1939’s “Grand Old Men” contingent that compiled a (three-year) record of 35-8.”

A photo of the 1947-48 team that lost to Michigan in the NCAA championship game shows Merriam seated in the front row, gloves on knees, expressionless.

Merriam is the only athlete to have lettered in three sports (soccer, hockey and lacrosse) all four years at Dartmouth. Word of his achievements filtered from class to class at Deerfield Academy, where headmaster Frank Boyden relied on him to coach, teach and instill discipline. Nicknamed “Frowner” by the students, I envisioned his on-ice ferocity whenever I was summoned to his office and had to withstand his withering glare.

I tried out for his hockey team and was one of the early cuts. During one particular drill, I’d missed a cone or lost control of the puck or did something that irritated him. He skated over and whacked me hard across the shin pads with his stick. It scared the hell out of me, but more important it scared the hell out of everyone else on the team.

We both left Deerfield about the same time, I with a degree and a yearbook, and he for administrative positions at Stoneleigh-Burnham School and Greenfield Community College.

His real love was old books, and he opened a used bookstore in Conway where he lived with his wife Mary,.

My first writing job was with the Valley Advocate, and being young and insecure I doubted my ability. One day at work I received a letter in the mail from him. He had read my article about the Red Sox playing for the pennant in 1975. I lost the letter but remember his last three words: “I was impressed.”

It made my day and gave me confidence to keep writing.

Merriam died in 2014 at age 90 and is buried on Laurel Hill Cemetery above the railroad tracks overlooking the town and the school where he taught and coached for 22 years.

WFAN’s Craig Carton got the knock on the door that all crooks dread when the Feds arrested him at 3:45 a.m. on Tuesday for what’s popularly called racketeering.

Carton was suspended and likely won’t return to the city’s top-rated morning show that he’d co-hosted with Boomer Esiason since 2007. According to the NY Daily News, Carton’s $250,000 annual salary wasn’t nearly enough to cover his gambling debts. 

Consequently he started an online business with co-defendant Michael Wright, flipping sports and concert tickets on the secondary market. When business soured they used a Ponzi scheme to stay afloat, and by the time the jig was up they had swindled investors out of $5.6 million. 

SQUIBBERS: Discussing the Red Sox sign-stealing scandal on Thursday, three-time Cy Young winner Jim Palmer told O’s broadcaster Gary Thorne, “They skirted the rules, they know it and they should lose the No. 1 draft choice for it.” Nobody hates sign-stealing more than a pitcher, and it’s possible one of Boston’s own spilled the beans. … Chiefs’ rookie running back Kareem Hunt— who had 246 total yards against the Patriots on Thursday — played for Toledo and gained 291 yards on 46 carries in the Rockets’ back-to-back wins against UMass in 2014-15. … Bruins single-game tickets went on sale Thursday. A balcony seat to see the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 2 is  $75. A seat nine rows up at center ice is $229. … Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. were a combined 0-for-21 during the 19-inning marathon that Boston won, 3-2, at 1:11 on Wednesday morning. Eight Blue Jays’ hitters were a combined 0-for-26. The game included nine walks, 35 strikeouts and 544 pitches, not exactly a thrill-a-minute. …. NESN has become the Today Show of MLB broadcasts. On Monday, a B-list celebrity named Maria Menounos talked and talked and talked during Jose Bautista’s blast into the centerfield bleachers and his subsequent home run trot around the bases. Menounas was excited about her “living healthy” vending stand on Yawkey Way. … The Hartford Yard Goats sold out 61 games of their inaugural season at Dunkin Donuts Park. The fans came for the cheap seats, cheap parking and the chance to see big leaguers like Starlin Castro and Matt Barnes on rehab assignment. …  With Jerry Remy continuing to recover from cancer treatments, it’s been junior announcer day in the NESN broadcast booth. Players don’t usually translate into competent analysts, as witnessed by Mike Timlin, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jonny Gomes, et al. Bring back Jerry “Way Back” Trupiano, who lives in Franklin and is itching for another chance behind the microphone at Fenway Park.  … Chris Sale needs to run the table to reach 20 wins, and Rick Porcello needs to drop the table to reach 20 losses. … Quote of the week from Florida Senator Marco Rubio: “There is no such thing as a great mobile home in a hurricane.”… Indeed, what’s happening down south makes me grateful that all we need to worry about is windswept snowy Nor’easters on our doorstep.

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.