Keeping Score: GSB honors a Marked man

Published: 9/18/2020 4:38:30 PM
Modified: 9/18/2020 4:38:19 PM

Good morning!
Greenfield Savings Bank took out a full page ad in the Recorder last week to thank Mark Russo for his years of service. Whoever wrote the text did a remarkable job describing the kid we called “Roose,” who grew up on the bluff behind Richardson’s Candy Kitchen and played stickball behind the Old Deerfield Grammar School.

We hung out in the summer, double dated at the Park Villa in Turners Falls and roomed together working survey in northern New Hampshire. He was lifting weights and getting in shape for football. Deerfield Academy coach Jim Smith was sending him letters saying, “The difference between champ and chump is u.”

He took it to heart. One night I was rousted out of a sound sleep by him yelling “Get him! Get him! Get him!”

He won an award for being Deerfield’s best lineman and most dedicated player. He graduated from Amherst College and got into the banking business. His motor has always run slowly – both motors. One morning I was rushing to get to work and darned if he didn’t pull out on me and drive 40 miles per hour up Route 5 with both hands on the wheel.

Mark’s the tortoise who beat the hare, a loyal friend and reliable worker. He said he plans to do home repairs and maybe some traveling, which for him would be a trip to Hatfield.

Enjoy the journey, Roose. In or out of the office your life has been a job well done.

NOTES FROM THE GRIDIRON: WFAN’s Joe Benigno is a diehard Jets fan and on Monday he excoriated 2019 first-round draft pick Quinnen Williams: “Only the Jets draft guys from Alabama that can’t play.”. … Speaking of the Jets, third string quarterback James Morgan helped FIU beat UMass last year, 44-0. A Bowling Green transfer, Morgan threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns in that win. … The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin had these nuggets from Week 1: Joe Burrow was the 13th straight No. 1 pick to lose his NFL debut, Chiefs rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU was the only player to rush for over 100 yards, and Cam Newton’s 15 carries was a Patriot record for quarterbacks. … Last year in Tampa Bay’s season opener, Jameis Winston completed 20 of 36 passes for 194 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. This year Tom Brady completed 23 of 36 for 239 yards, two TDs and two picks. Not much difference, and both teams lost. … The Atlanta Falcons are 24-25 since the night they blew a 28-3 lead and lost to the Pats in Super Bowl LI.  … The Steelers had three sacks against the Giants to extend their consecutive game streak to 58. … In case you missed it, every Patriot player stood for the national anthem, no arms locked or kneeling. Maybe that’s why a half dozen opted not to play, Bill Belichick gave them the choice of either standing together as a team or staying home.

DIAMOND NOTES: The Red Sox are on pace to finish with the lowest win percentage since 1932 when the Carmines finished with the worst record in team history, 43-111 (.292). … NESN’s Dennis Eckersley flipped when he saw pitching coach Dave Bush talking to Tanner Houck in the dugout on Monday in Miami. “Get away from me!” barked the 1992 Cy Young winner and MVP. “I’ve got a three-inning shutout going. I got this relaxed thing down, I’m trying to paint, so take a hike!” … Houck’s five shutout innings were reminiscent of Dave Morehead’s debut in 1963 when he threw a complete game five-hitter and beat Washington, 3-0.

Madison Baumgarner gave up eight runs on 13 hits in 5⅓ innings against the Angels on Wednesday. The 2014 World Series MVP is 0-4 with an 8.53 ERA. The D-backs are paying him $79 million through 2025. … Another pitcher who crashed and burned is Alex Cobb who parlayed a 48-35 record at Tampa Bay into a four year, $57 million deal with the O’s. Cobb is 6-21 in Baltimore. … Alex Verdugo reminds me of Wade Boggs, a table setter who has twice as many runs scored (32) as RBIs (14). Meanwhile the guy they traded away for him, Markus “Mookie” Betts, leads the NL with 15 home runs. … John Sterling’s call after Kyle Hagashioka’s third home run on Wednesday: “Hagashioka, the home run stroka!” … Bronson Arroyo was a guest on NESN via Zoom on Tuesday. When the production truck flashed a photo of Alex Rodriguez knocking the ball out of his glove during the 2004 ALCS he said, “I’ve signed that picture thousands of times, so Alex has made me a couple of bucks.”

HERE’S TO THE LOSERS: Shortly after the last race of Saratoga’s summer meet on Sept. 7, NYRA anchor Greg Wolf looked at colleague Andy Serling and said, “The game is tough, isn’t it?”

Serling had four horses in the last leg of the lucrative Pick 6 and they finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. “Fitting end to the way my meet has gone,” he sighed.

As Danny Thomas once said, “A racetrack is the only place where windows clean people.”

Losing at the windows isn’t as bad as training those losers. Randi Persaud started 35 horses this meet and none finished better than fourth; Hall of Famer Nick Zito had zero wins from the 21 horses he saddled. 

Meanwhile the rich got richer. Trainer Todd Pletcher led with 31 wins, Chad Brown was second with 26 and Christoph Clement and Michael Maker both tied for third with 20 trips to the winner’s circle.

As for the riders, brothers Jose and Irad Ortiz Jr. tied for first with 57 wins each. Joel Rosario was third with 47 and Luis Saez came out of his COVID sick bed to win 42 races.

JOHN MAKES THE CALL: John Imbriale waited in the wings for three decades to be named NYRA’s fulltime race-caller. Imbriale was Tom Durkin’s backup, and when Durkin retired Larry Collmus stepped into the catbird seat.

NYRA didn’t renew Collmus’s contract and that paved the way for Imbriale. A Big Apple native and St. John’s grad, Imbriale got in the business in 1979 when he won a contest to call a race at Aqueduct.

Belmont Park’s fall meet started this week and analyst Richard Migliore can resume telling viewers how horses got their names. “Johnnypump’s a fire hydrant, anyone who grew up in New York City knows that,” he said of a 2-year-old.

“Johnnypump is also a piece of artwork,” added sidekick Jonathan Kinchen.

Johnnypump is still a maiden seeking his first win. He’s due. Andy Serling will tell you if he has a chance.

The powers that be at 345 Park Avenue are sweating the ratings game. The Tom Brady factor helped boost Sunday’s Bucs-Saints game by eight percent over last year, but the Titans-Broncos, Giants-Steelers, Rams-Cowboys, and Texans-Chiefs games were all down double digits. Why the ratings plunge? NY Post columnist Phil Mushnick suggested that social activism works both ways.

Congrats to Greenfield native Artie Belanger, whose daughter Erica was wed to Chris Grillo last week. Artie was a track and hoops standout at GHS, and Erica ran track at Deerfield Academy and Syracuse. The wedding was a small COVID-19 compliant ceremony near the family’s summer home on the Green River in Colrain.

SQUIBBERS: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on pumped-in crowd music: “I could care less. They could crank it up and play Funky Cold Medina, Beyonce, Marvin Gaye, Travis Tritt, I don’t really care, I just wanna play ball.” … Spotted: John Daly at a St. Louis Cardinals game last week, or rather Long John’s cutout among the cardboard celebs at Busch Stadium. … If Donald Trump bought Crumpin-Fox, would he call it Crumpin-Trump, or Trumpin-Fox? … Fran Lemay emailed several “changes” to last week’s column about the Greenfield Lions football team. “George Hayer was a Superior Court Judge, Jake Matuszko was an electrician and Jim Fox was on the sidelines with his pen and pad covering the games for the Recorder.” … After news broke that Steve Cohen was buying the Mets, a cop called Boomer & Gio to say he worked security at Cohen’s Christmas party. “Three of us were assigned to guard his paintings.” … In his first two games, Houston Baptist QB Bailey Zappe has thrown for 1,047 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Alas both were losses, including 35-33 to Texas Tech when the two-point conversion attempt failed in the final minutes. … In the Sept. issue of Vanity Fair, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is asked to name his favorite profession. “Writing,” he answered. “It’s hard for sports fans to understand that a well-turned phrase is as satisfying as a slam dunk.”

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 at

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