Keeping Score: Farewell to a class act in the newsroom

Friday, September 22, 2017

Good morning!

Diane Poirier put in her last day at The Recorder on Friday. It doesn’t do justice to simply say that she’ll be missed, and words like reliable and dependable don’t begin to do her justice.

Poirier served both sides of the aisle, helping customers get back copies or write wedding announcements, and being the first line of defense in the newsroom whenever a disgruntled person appeared on the doorstep.

Whatever a caller’s mood or need, she always answered with the same eight words: “Good morning, Recorder. How may I help you?”

If a colleague was sick or had moved, she had the mailing address; if a staffer needed an old article it was on the desk before noon.

Without sounding like Professor Higgins, let me say I’ll miss her smile, her wit and her laugh that lifted the haze off a foggy morning.

Deerfield’s Scott Kingsbury is in Big Ten country, where he co-owns Minuteman Tickets. Kingsbury graduated from Frontier Regional School in 2000 and enrolled at Ashland University, which is near Columbus, Ohio. Among the school’s alumni are NASCAR driver Tim Richmond and Robin Meade of HLN’s “Morning Express.”

“I majored in sports communication and minored in sports administration,” he said in a telephone interview. “I got about halfway through and thought, ‘I don’t know about this.’

“We were renting a two-bedroom apartment and needed money to pay the rent, so I started buying and selling college tickets to my college buddies, well actually my college buddies’ parents.”

In 2013, he teamed up with Matt Baxendell and founded Minuteman Tickets. “We buy ‘em from the teams and online sites just like everybody else,” he said. “Anybody can sell, the real proprietary rights are what’s inside my head.”

He compared it to trading on Wall Street, knowing when and when not to buy. “It’s like the stock market. When Ohio State lost to Oklahoma the demand dropped… the risks and projections of this business are an adrenaline rush.”

Kingsbury returned to Deerfield this weekend to visit “Pops” and his brother Josh who’s part-owner in a Greenfield-based solar energy and maintenance company called PV Squared. “It’s always good to get back to western Mass., and being an entrepreneur means I’m never far from the office.”

The latest controversy brewing in the MLB involves Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke’s refusal to sign an autograph for Minnesota Twins pitcher Pat Neshek.

Neshek is seeking to get a full set of autographed cards for his son, and Greinke, he says is, “The only (guy) in baseball who’s told me no.”

Former Colorado outfielder Ryan Spilborghs sided with Greinke. “A rich baseball player’s kid doesn’t need that autograph,” he said on Sirius-XM’s morning show The Leadoff Spot. “I never got my kid an autograph on his behalf. I’d make him go up and ask himself. He met Derek Jeter in the player’s parking lot and was too nervous, so he still doesn’t have Jeter’s autograph.”

Co-host Steve Phillips, a one-time general manager of the New York Mets, said Rickey Henderson was another who wouldn’t sign autographs. “He’d say, ‘Rickey doesn’t sign on Mondays, Rickey doesn’t sign on Tuesdays, Rickey doesn’t sign on Wednesdays… He didn’t want people making money off his name, but he would take his picture with you.”

Jake LaMotta tanked his 1947 light-heavyweight bout against Billy Fox for a shot at the middleweight crown, according to  Richard Goldstein’s obituary in Thursday’s New York Times. LaMotta had been suspected of fixing the fight after late mob money came in on Fox and LaMotta was TKO’d in the fourth round. A year-and-a-half later, he won the middleweight crown, beating Marcel Cerdan with a tenth round TKO. … AP reported that former heavyweight David Bey was killed in a construction accident in Camden, N.J. on Wednesday. In 1986, Bey was TKO’d by Larry Holmes in an IBF title fight at the Riviera in Las Vegas. He began his career on the the U.S. Army Boxing Team and was nicknamed “Hand Grenade.” 

Tennis fan Chris Russo was miffed that Billy Jean King wouldn’t appear on his Sirius-XM show last week. Russo ranted, “How many sports talkshow hosts want to talk to Billy Jean King on a Friday? The answer is zero, yet I couldn’t get six minutes with her so to hell with it. I’m not going to wax poetic about Billy Jean.”

The 2-year-old girl who was struck by a line drive at Yankee Stadium this week reminded me of my own close call in the Bronx.

In 2003, tickets to a game in the old ballpark were affordable and I was sitting four rows back near the third base dugout. Late in the game, a right-handed batter swung and cracked a line drive that was coming straight at me. The ball glanced off a girl’s forehead and smacked into the cheek of the fan two seats away from me.

The poor guy didn’t have a chance. The game continued while the EMTs helped him out of his seat.

SQUIBBERS: UConn hosts East Carolina on Sunday. Tickets start at $20 and all fans will get a free Randy Edsall bobblehead. … South Florida and Illinois combined for 31 penalties on Saturday, but on Thursday the Bulls and Temple combined for just four. The Bulls were too busy scoring points, hammering the Owls, 43-7, at Raymond James Stadium. It was a rude awakening for Temple after its 29-21 win against UMass. … The Bruins drew crowds of 16,781 and 16,309 this week to the TD Garden for preseason hockey, pretty good for a team that nobody’s supposed to care about. … Baseball America reported that Tim Tebow generated $1.6 million in extra ticket, parking and concession revenue for the Mets this summer. The former Heisman Trophy winner signed a $10,000 minor league contract and batted .226 with eight home runs. … The Yankees hit 46 home runs off O’s pitching this season, the most by one team versus another since the start of the expansion era. …  Want Red Sox playoff tickets? Ace Ticket is charging $100 for an ALDS bleacher seat and $338 for the ALCS. … The Nationals are commanding the highest World Series ticket prices on StubHub. A reserved outfield seat for the first game at Nationals Park is listed at $1,149, but first they have to get there. …  The Lions still haven’t had a 100-yard rusher in a game since Reggie Bush did it 54 kickoffs ago in 2013. … NFL.com reports that injured Cardinals running back David Johnson accounted for 34.4 percent of Arizona’s offense last year, the most by any player in the NFL. … Former NFL team doctor David Chao called Joe Thomas’s 10,000 consecutive snaps harder to accomplish than Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak. “Forget injuries or a broken chinstrap, he never came off the field for anything.” …   Jim Bob Cooter (Detroit offensive coordinator) has to be one of Garry Brown’s favorite sports names. … Rafael Devers’ 13 errors portend a shaky playoff debut for the Red Sox rookie third baseman. … In hindsight, it fits that the Red Sox, who’ve played 18 extra inning games this season, ended spring training with a 4-4 tie against Washington. … Marty Kaiser didn’t take any grief when he was behind the plate. When Baltimore’s Eddie Murray protested a called third strike, Kaiser glared at him and said, “We ain’t talked in 15 years. Don’t start now.”

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.