Keeping Score: Belanger event two weeks hence

Published: 8/9/2019 9:02:43 PM
Modified: 8/9/2019 9:02:31 PM

Good morning!
Sixteen years ago this month, Deerfield native Greg Belanger was killed in Iraq. The 24-year-old sergeant was a cook in the Army and was stationed in Al Hillah, a large city south of Baghdad. On August 27, 2003, he was sent on a mission to help set up a camp for incoming soldiers. The convoy was attacked, and Belanger was killed.

He left his mother Kathy, sister Allison, brother Jeff, father Ed, and a fiancee whom he had planned to wed in the spring and one day open a restaurant in Colorado.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Defense casualty website, Belanger was the 281st of 4,481 military deaths from the launch of the Iraq invasion on March 30, 2003, through 2016. He’s buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery near the house where he was raised on Old Wapping Road in Deerfield.

The family hasn’t forgotten, nor has the community. The 16th annual Sgt. Gregory A. Belanger fundraiser will be on August 24 at Camp Apex.

Friends can bring cash for scholarships and gift cards for the homeless vets who live at the VA Medical Center in Leeds. The Belanger family provides the food, raffles and games for the kids.

“Over the last 16 years, we’ve given over $30,000 for educational support,” said Greg’s sister Allison. “Other causes include the Run to Home Base, Mass. Fallen Heroes, Touch Of Home and veterans mental health organizations. We’ve filled homeless vets Christmas stockings, and spent $3,500 for the town’s new flags.”

A lot of good has come of the terrible tragedy. For more information call Kathy at 413-774-7300 or Allison online at

Boston College running back AJ Dillon is 35-1 to win the Heisman Trophy, but it’s an even longer shot he’ll be able to stay healthy an entire season. The Eagles lost three of six games while Dillon sat out after twisting his ankle against Temple last season.

Despite missing half the season, he gained 1,108 yards and scored 10 touchdowns, nearly as many as all the other running backs combined.

BC’s brutal schedule begins three weeks from today when the team hosts Virginia Tech at 3:30 p.m. Other home games are against Kansas, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Florida State. Their road games are at Rutgers, Louisville, Clemson, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt.

As a respite, BC gets two bye weeks, after the second of which they play at Notre Dame. As defensive coach Jim Reid jokingly put it, “We get a bye, and a bye-bye.”

In the fifth inning of Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Yankees, Baltimore’s Jace Peterson pinch hit for Chris Davis. The two-time MLB home run champ walked back to the dugout so that a .182 hitter could go ground out for him.

Fading sluggers don’t like to be shown up by first-year managers, and the cameras caught Davis getting into a shoving match with Brandon Hyde.

Something similar happened in Boston on July 20, 1988, when Joe Morgan sent Spike Owen to pinch hit for three-time home run champ Jim Rice. The game logs show Rice was in a 12-for-29 (.410) streak, but Morgan wanted to move the runner and Rice hadn’t laid down a sacrifice bunt in eight years.

When Rice returned to the dugout from the on-deck circle, he grabbed Morgan and reportedly yelled at him, “That’s bull****, Skip!” to which Morgan retorted, “I manage this nine!”

Rice was suspended for three games, but at this writing Davis had yet to be fined for his indiscretion. Davis is signed through 2022 and making $23 million a year.

UMass hockey coach Greg Carvel confirms that local author Carl Vigeland is chronicling a book about the hockey team. “Carl has been toying around with writing something about UMass hockey but nothing concrete at this point,” texted Carvel.

The book would likely parallel Marty Dobrow’s “Going Bigtime: The Spectacular Rise of UMass Basketball” that was published by Summerset Press in 1996.

Red Sox fans have Jerry Remy and Dennis Eckersley to keep them entertained on NESN. A week ago Rem Dawg teased Eck about the time they posed for a Playgirl spread called “The Men of Boston.”

“That was worth how much, $500?” asked Remy.

“Not much,” answered the Eck. “I didn’t want to expose myself.”

Play-by-play voice Dave O’Brien interrupted to give the count on Xander Bogaerts.

Two T-shirts spotted at Saratoga, the first worn by a teacher that said, “I’m silently correcting your grammar.” The other T-shirt was likely worn by a fisherman. It showed a colorful salmon across the chest and said, “Keep your mouth shut and you won’t get caught.”

ESPN constantly finds stats to fit the moment and dresses them up as a momentous occasions. The latest rollout was during Sunday night’s Red Sox-Yankees broadcast. The previous day, Gleyber Torres had stroked two home runs off pitchers Brian Johnson and Josh Taylor. “They came at the age of 22 years, 233 days old,” said Matt Vasgersian. “In AL history, only Joe DiMaggio got to seven career multi-home run games younger.”

“Hmmmm… ” said Alex Rodriguez, who spoke for all of us.

SQUIBBERS: During the Tampa Bay series the Red Sox promoted a family five pack — tickets, hot dogs, soda, etc. for $99, but after they were swept by the Yankees and the Royals came to town, the deal was discounted to $53. … Speculating what would have happened if the Red Sox had traded Andrew Benintendi before his bobblehead night, Shelburne native and intrepid Rays cameraman Skip Smith wrote: “When the Rays demoted Jason Tyner before his widely promoted bobblehead day, they gave away all 10,000 of his bobbleheads to area schoolkids.” … A three-year-old colt named Extreme Force is out of a dam named Yawkey Way. Off at 6-to-1 a week ago, he was “squeezed at the break” and finished fifth, sort of like how the Red Sox couldn’t get out of the gate. … Hall of Fame inductee Gil Brandt remembered taking Amherst College tight end Jean Fugett in the 13th round of the 1972 draft. “He was 19 years old, the youngest guy at that time to come in and play in the National Football League,” Brandt told Sirius-XM’s Chris Russo. … Gotta love those noontime November kickoffs against Liberty and BYU at McGuirk Stadium this season. Have coffee, watch the game and get home before dark. … Tampa Bay became the first team to win eight games in a season at Fenway Park since the Orioles did it in 1966. Now that’s a stunner. … “The Tigers are trying to be nice and keep Kirk Gibson in the radio booth,” writes Tigers fan Crosby Hunt. “He has Parkinson’s and is sometimes painfully slow and sometimes unintelligible. It is sad.” … Yankees’ TV voice Michael Kay wasn’t permitted to talk, clear his throat or belch for three weeks after surgery to remove a throat polyp, according to the NY Post’s Andrew Marchand. … On this week in 1952, Mad Magazine made its debut. What — me worry? … Happy 50th birthday to Mark Durant. It seems like yesterday he was a high school kid interning for sports editor Gary Sanderson.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.

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