The infamous quote "Well-behaved women seldom makes history" comes to the forefront of my mind when I conjure up a memory of Rosie Ruiz. The infamous Cuban-born women (who falsely crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 21, 1980 in what is remembered by some as one the worst moments in marathon history) came into my life unexpectedly and affected me in more ways than one.
First and foremost, she unwittingly became the inspiration for me to want to RUN the Boston Marathon. Secondly -- and perhaps in the eyes of history, the more important of the two -- my friend, John Faulkner, was one of the two Harvard University seniors to visually "catch" the ruse.
Like most college students on that infamous day (which coincidentally is Patriot's Day), my friends from Boston University and I gathered on lower Commonwealth Avenue along with food and the perfunctory keg or two of Wiedeman's beer as students spilled out into the streets of Boston to tailgate and enjoy a day off from classes. We situated ourselves just past the Dugout Bar on Commonwealth Avenue, a hangout frequented by students and professors alike. The temperature was unusually warm for mid April with the temperature rising into the high 60's. The location was ideal that we chose so we could readily high five and encourage the runners and partake in the marathon mystique.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my friend John and his fellow Harvard classmate, Sola Mahoney, decided to literally run from Harvard to Commonwealth Avenue. Both were a couple of months away from graduation at Harvard. ran over the Mass. Avenue bridge and by happenstance, chose to settle in near the CharlesGate, about one half block from Comm Ave. for a day of spectating.
The marathon held plenty of interest that day. Bill Rodgers, a native of Hartford, Conn., was looking to secure his fourth Boston Marathon win. He represented the Unites States at the 1976 Olympics only to be derailed by a foot injury and finished in a disappointing 44th place. He was well on his way to being deemed one of the greatest runners in marathon history.
But Billy Rodgers was not our only interest of the day. On the women's side, a Canadian runner named Jacqueline Gareau was considered one of the top runner's in the race and favored to win. Gareau had recently won the National Capital Marathon in Ottawa in a time of 2:47:58.
Rodgers did not disappoint as he was the first elite runner to run before us in our respective spots. In doing so he went on to win his fourth Boston Marathon.
All that was left was to see whether Gareau would win another marathon as well. From the south side of Comm. Ave approached the first woman. I clearly remember screaming with excitement and awe while I watched a woman go by who was not even sweating. The woman was Rosie Ruiz, a flash before my eyes who inspired me to loudly proclaim, "Someday I will run Boston!"
The Harvardites, meanwhile, were about 1/2 block from Comm. Ave. They had barely missed Rodgers running by.
"I saw a woman coming out of the crowd on the south side of Comm Ave and start running," Faulkner said in a phone interview. "I thought it was a hoax or someone running just for the fun of it. She did not run with an elite runner's style or form."
Mahoney had agreed with Faulkner that the women's runner they saw did not run with the form of a marathon winner.
Later that night back at Harvard, there were rumblings that there was a controversy brewing as to who had won on the women's side. The following morning John and his roommates read the front page of the Boston Globe and saw a picture of Rodgers and Ruiz declared as the winners of the race.
John immediately recognized Ruiz as the woman he saw emerge from the crowd. After much prompting from friends, he rather reluctantly called the Boston Globe sports department. He was put on hold, but said he could hear people talking in the background and saying something to the effect of, "if only someone would come forward." The call was unfortunately lost, but he called back again at the urging of his friend Tom Coz to report what he had seen.
From the moment John told the Globe he saw someone jump into the race, his place in history was sealed.
By early Wednesday morning, the word was out and two television trucks complete with satellite dishes were parked at Harvard. The news coverage was worldwide and the Today show came calling to hear from the Harvardites who spotted the false marathon winner. A fleeting glance up the northerly side of Comm Ave had changed the course of marathon history.
As for myself , the gig was up when I saw the news finally and there before the camera stood my friend, John Faulkner, and his Harvard buddy Sola Mahoney telling their story. Like millions, I felt duped. Gareau finally got to wear the victor's laurel seven days later, and in her running, she set a course record for Boston in a time of 2:34:28.
Fast forward to the year 2000 which was the 20th anniversary of the Ruiz caper. There was excitement in the air as rumors flew that Rosie Ruiz was coming to run Boston. It was my third consecutive Boston Marathon, and although Ruiz had been nothing but a fraud on the day I spotted her way back when, the sight of her running still served as an inspiration to me. She is the reason I stayed true to my word and came back to run Boston not once but three times.
As Bill Rodgers once said," the body does not want you to do this."
I say " Go for it."
In 1987 Adrian Dantley chased after a loose ball at the same time as his teammate Vinnie Johnson, resulting in the worst non helmet head-to-head collision I have ever witnessed in sports. It was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics. The old Garden was a sultry 80 degrees, the “bad boy” Pistons were pushing Larry Bird and company to the brink of elimination.
With 8 seconds left in the third quarter, Johnson lost the ball and chased it hard. Dantley came in from the opposite direction. The result was a full force head on collision that changed the face of the game. Dantley was down and out for a good 5 minutes. The Piston’s top scorer was done for the night and off to Mass General Hospital with a concussion. Vinnie Johnson spent the rest of the game on the bench with an ice pack on his head.
Bird said after the game that the incident “helped us out tremendously. It really hurt them.”
The Celtics were on their way to the NBA Finals versus the Lakers, and would lose the series four games to two.
All these years later, Dantley is a retired Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist. He lives with his family in the same house he bought in 1990. After a long and successful pro career with several teams, Dantley did not have to worry about money upon retirement.
What the former star did not have was health benefits.
Dantley now works as a school crossing guard in Silver Spring, Maryland for $14,685.50 a year. The salary includes medical benefits.
“A lot of people talk about the benefits, but I’m basically doing it for the kids,” Dantley told CNN. “You know, the NBA, even though you make a lot of money, they don’t pay for your health premiums. I told my wife, I don’t care how much money people think I have, I’m not gonna spend $17,000.00 on health insurance.”
Now the same guy that guarded some of the best players in the NBA, is guarding children as they cross the street.
“I’m at two intersections that’s pretty dangerous,” he said. “Two kids almost got hit twice. I almost got hit once at the beginning of September. I was a rookie and all the crossing guards were kind of kidding me a little bit.”
The 6’5” Dantley, now 58 years old, says he enjoys giving the kids high fives and encouragement.
“It’s pretty fun, especially with the little ones,” Dantley told WTOP.com.
Dantley, who grew up in the Silver Springs area said that he also was looking for something to do.
It’s win-win. Get the kids safely across the street, and save 17 grand on health insurance. The medical insurance is something Dantley will really need if he gets hurt on the job.
“I think it’s more dangerous out here than me playing one on one or me taking a hard foul from an NBA player.”
The hardest blow Dantley took as a player did not come from an opposing player, but his team mate, Vinnie Johnson. Long time Celtics and Pistons fans will remember the head on collision as a series changer.
The little school kids he’s helping now to cross the street will need a history lesson.
The best figure skaters on the planet are in London, Ontario competing for the World Championship. It is the competition that will determine how many American skaters will make the Olympic Team next year. This is the type of event where the next Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi or Michelle Kwan steps into the spotlight and becomes the next best thing on silver blades.
Can you say Gracie Gold?
I have to admit, that could be the best skating name ever. The question is, will anyone even remember it a year from now?
Gracie Gold is the current United States national silver medalist. My Olympic pair partner, Bill Fauver, calls her a “hot shot.” The Boston Globe's John Powers agrees she has potential to enrapture the skating audience in way that Katerina Witt did back in the day. (Read: men will watch too.)
That is, if the skating audience comes back.
We are witnessing a different kind of spiral in American figure skating: a downward spiral. The recent struggles of USA figure skating are as perplexing to me as the sport’s judging system, which may be the root of the problem.
It all started when a French judge and Russian judge made a deal at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. It went down something like this:
“I will give your pair team my vote for the gold if your delegation returns the favor for my country’s dance team.”
That was followed by a little ‘footsie’ under the judging table, and the rest is history.
Suddenly we had two pair teams sharing the top tier of the Olympic podium in a “do-over” medal ceremony that took place days after the event.
It was a happy day for the Canadian pair team who traded their silver for gold. It was also the end of the 6.0 as we knew it.
I spent 15 years of my life in an ice rink, competed at the highest level of figure skating and to this day have not figured out the scoring system.
Falling on an attempted quadruple jump now earns a skater more points than a perfectly executed triple flip. It doesn’t make sense.
The fallout from the change in the scoring system meant the end of the repeat champion. Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan, Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano won multiple U.S. titles. This doesn’t happen anymore.
Still, scoring issues don’t fully explain why American skaters are not getting it done on the international stage. The U.S. dance team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White have an excellent chance of winning a world title this weekend. Other than that, the U.S pair teams and men skaters are out of the running after the short program. The favorites to win the ladies title are South Korea’s Kim Yu-Na, Japan’s Mao Asado, and Italy’s Carolina Kostner. U.S. National champion Ashley Wagner, who placed fourth at last year’s World Championships, could make some noise.
And although Gracie Gold has the perfect skating name, she is a long shot to win a medal which reflects her name this weekend in London, Ontario.
Things will have to change in a hurry for American skaters with the Sochi Winter Games less than a year away.
I covered the BU hockey team for The Daily Free Press at BU for nearly three years, but since graduating BU last May, I’ve only seen Jack Parker outside of a press conference once. It was at this year's Beanpot luncheon, and he had just finished an interview with NESN. He turned around and saw me, shook my hand and asked for an update on my life post-college. After chatting about life for a bit, I interviewed him quickly for my pre-Beanpot feature. We then got in line for food, and Parker promptly spilled half the gravy on his plate all over the TD Garden Legends Room rug.
It was ironic to see a mess made on that rug by a man who has his name up on the wall in that Legends room alongside many Boston sports greats. He is a man who has guided Boston University to 894 wins, three national championships and an inhuman amount of Beanpot titles. He is a man who has coached 23 Olympians and countless NHL greats. He is a man who has coached 40 different Terrier teams through times of national triumph that filled up trophy cases and also times of shame, when even the national media took note of the team's irresponsible, and in some cases illegal, behavior.
Jack Parker is the man I used to watch when I was a child in the stands of Walter Brown Arena steam on the bench as he tossed every obscenity he could think of at the referees on the ice (or occasionally at his own players when they were in the penalty box). He is the man I then watched do the exact same thing 15 years later when I was a student reporter in the Agganis Arena press box.
You see, my relationship with BU hockey is quite complicated. For the first 19 years of my life, I was a BU hockey fan. My family’s BU season tickets track all the way back to my grandfather. I grew up with winter weekend nights consisting of T Anthony’s pizza before the game, two periods of hockey in the cement bleachers of Walter Brown and then the third period of hockey in my pajamas in the club room at the rink.
Then, as a sophomore at BU, I began covering BU hockey as a writer for The Daily Free Press. My relationship with BU hockey necessarily changed as I transitioned from fan to impartial reporter.
Through it all, there has been Jack Parker. He has coached BU for 40 seasons now, 17 years longer than I’ve been alive. As a child, he used to amaze me with how red his face could turn. Amazement turned to awe during my first year at BU. I could hardly say “congratulations” when I took a photo with him at the national championship victory parade that spring.
Then I was a sophomore interviewing him for the first time, and I was intimidated as could be. I remember waiting in the upstairs office at Agganis Arena to interview him for a feature I was writing on then-Terrier and current-Ottawa Senator Eric Gryba. On the sideboard next to me were the seven trophies BU hockey won the year before in addition to Matt Gilroy’s Hobey Baker Award and Parker’s most recent Spencer Penrose Memorial Trophy (College Hockey Coach of the Year – he’s won three times). The coffee table in front of me displayed two binders full of the hockey cards of all the players he had coached that went on to play in the NHL.
Jack Parker is known for being tough on players and reporters alike. One of my co-writers at The Daily Free Press once clocked a Parker interview at 19 seconds. One dumb question and my feature was doomed.
But when I walked into Parker’s office that first time, he put me completely at ease. His office wasn’t what I expected. There were framed posters of sailboats resting on the floor against the wall; although Parker had been in that office since 2005, he still had not hung the pictures. A framed jersey he was presented with at his 800th career win also rested on the floor, not the wall. I sat on the couch. He sat in an armchair across from me, crossed his legs, smiled and said, “What d’you got for me?”
The interview and feature went well. He never shut me down or made me feel as if I’d asked a stupid question, and he carefully explained intricacies of Gryba’s defensive game to me as if I were a hockey strategist and not a student reporter. Parker even launched into one of his favorite rants that day, a spiel about how Canadian Major Junior hockey’s recruiting policies are unethical and are destroying college hockey. It’s always a good interview when you can get Parker going on a rant.
I’ve interviewed Parker countless times since that day. For the nearly three years I covered the team, I met with Parker semi-privately every Thursday afternoon to discuss the week’s events and upcoming weekend slate of games. As with all relationships between a beat reporter and a coach, conversations didn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes, after a difficult loss or trying week, he was snippy and barely acknowledged my presence. Other times, instead of answering a question, he’d respond by simply rephrasing my question into a sentence and saying it back to me.
But most of the time, Parker was surprisingly helpful and pleasant. I learned some of the cliches Parker likes to throw around at least a few times per year (“That was a great college hockey game”, “They’re egomaniacs with an inferiority complex”, “I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night”, etc.), discovered his love of referencing anything about the Celtics or Bill Russell, and cursed Bill Belichick for inspiring Parker to be as vague as possible about any injuries (“It’s a body injury. That’s all I know.”). Quite a few times, I asked Parker to speak up once he inevitably started mumbling at a pitch too low for my voice recorder to pick up, or I’d ask him to repeat himself after he coughed his way through a sentence.
I learned to appreciate, instead of dread, the wry look on his face and the twirl of a laser pointer that always preceded some interesting way for him to skirt a tough question, but I also appreciated his consistently candid honesty when things turned serious.
It wasn't always strictly BU business with Parker. When Jack Jablonski, a Minnesota high school player, was paralyzed last winter from the chest down, I was the one to inform Parker that Jablonski’s spine was severed, thus making Jablonski’s paralysis irreversible without a miracle. Parker’s face turned dark the second I told him. He gasped and said quietly, possibly to himself, “That’s worse than Travis [Roy, a former BU player who is a quadriplegic].” His eyes welled up and he needed a minute before he was able to continue speaking.
I had an extended conversation with him last year about the Joe Paterno scandal and his disgust with the way sports can overshadow morals. I’ve spoken with Parker about his views on the Catholic church (he dislikes the way Cardinal Bernard Law lives like a prince in the wake of the Boston archdiocese sex abuse scandal). We’ve talked about the struggle of one of his close friends with autism and how that inspired him to get his entire team involved in Autism Speaks.
Last season was especially difficult at BU for Parker, the players, the athletics department and, yes, the reporters covering the team. When former BU player Corey Trivino was arrested on charges related to sexual assault, Parker called me for an interview (it was winter break and he was not in the office). I could hear the strain and frustration in his voice as he explained how for years, he attempted to convince Trivino he had a substance abuse issue and needed help. I listened as Parker described his first move upon hearing of Trivino’s arrest in the early hours of the morning. Even though Trivino was clearly out of line, Parker’s instinct was to protect his player; he immediately found Trivino a lawyer so he would be represented in court properly the next day and then phoned Trivino’s parents as they drove down from Toronto.
I will never forget Parker telling me he knew something bad would eventually happen with Trivino and how he had only prayed Trivino never hurt anyone else. I will never forget the feeling of how much Parker seemed to regret that he had not been able to do more ahead of time.
I unfortunately had an all-too-similar conversation with Parker just 10 weeks later when former Terrier Max Nicastro was arrested on charges of attempted rape. This time, there was desperation in Parker’s voice as he vowed, just hours after Nicastro’s arrest, to investigate his own team. He wanted to personally figure out why his players were getting into such serious trouble and determine how to get rid of any type of negative culture from his team. BU’s investigation into the hockey program was held separately of and in addition to Parker’s; the coach was not going to be satisfied with only someone else’s report on his team. It is, after all, his team.
And despite all the difficult moments last season, there were bright moments over the years with Parker that I will never forget. Parker would frequently ask about my classes and life away from the hockey rink. Last season, when I was a senior and the team was making a national tournament run, he decided to give me career advice.
“I always tell my players to play hockey for as long as they’ll pay you because you don’t want to work in the real world until you absolutely have to,” Parker said. Then he grinned. “So, play hockey for as long as they’ll pay you.”
I’ve never played hockey, so that advice was not the most valuable I’ve received, but it made me smile during a time when the unknown of the future was so daunting.
Then there was a time when I ran into Parker at T Anthony’s. He was so genuinely excited to see me that he shook me as he exclaimed, “It’s so great to see you outside of the rink!” I had yet to have my coffee that morning, and I’m pretty sure I just grunted back at him.
Last April, I went to a senior appreciation event at BU with my friends. Parker was also in attendance. As soon as he saw me, he sped over to my table and had me introduce him to my friends and roommates before asking them all about their lives and joining in our debate over the then-state of the Red Sox. He auctioned off a pair of his season tickets and ironically, I won them. He grinned when he saw they were mine and told me there was something special about his seats. He said he expected me to report back to him after the game as to how it went and if I figured out what makes his seats special (the seats are on the third baseline and have a counter in front of them so you have a place to put your food and drink).
I am so grateful not just for those Red Sox tickets, but also for having gotten the chance to know Parker over the past few years. He has been interviewed by hundreds of reporters over the years, and there are so many people who know him better and have known him for much longer than me. In a few years, who knows if he will still remember me. But I know for the rest of my life, I will remember him not only as the face of BU hockey, but as one of the highlights of my college experience and one of the best coaches with whom I have worked.
And, well, maybe I’ll also remember him as the man who, at 68 years old, can’t carry a plate of gravy without spilling it.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco has finally reached a deal with the Baltimore Ravens for a reported $120 million for six years, making him the highest paid athlete in NFL history. Details on the huge deal have been released this week. According to CBS Sports, Flacco will receive $52 million in guaranteed money. Further details of the deal:
- Averaging $20.1 million over the life of the deal, which is slightly more than Drew Brees ($20 million).
- Averaging $62 million over the first three years, which is $1 million more than Brees in the first three years of his deal.
- Flacco's salary-cap number is $7 million, which is $12 million lower than the cap hit from the exclusive franchise tag. That means the Ravens have more money to spend on keeping their own free agents like safety Ed Reed and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger.
- Based on the $120.6 million deal, he will make an average of $168,908 each day of the regular season for the next six years.
There’s been a lot of questioning on whether or not the Super Bowl champ deserves what he got. So what does Flacco have to say about it?
"I think I bring to the table what I bring to the table," Flacco said. "The fact that we won the Super Bowl just comes with that. If we didn't win the Super Bowl this year, I still think I'm worth the same. It may not be seen that way, but that's the bottom line. I think I give this team the best chance to win moving forward, whether we won or lost."
Good for you Flacco, speaking up and letting people know what you're worth!
Serena gets stopped at Honda Classic
[prahys-lis] Show IPA
1. having a value beyond all price; invaluable: a priceless artwork.
Priceless is also the look of shock on tennis star Serena Williams face when she is stopped from attempting to photograph Tiger Woods while taking a shot at the Honda Classic. Take a look…
Williams was a good sport about the situation and joked about it over Twitter.
Silberman’s NFL Combine trip ends prematurely
It’s been a week since Lauren Silberman, a 28-year-old soccer player from New York City, made history by being the first woman to have an NFL tryout as a placekicker at this past weekend’s Regional Scouting Combine in Florhan Park, NJ.
Unfortunately, Silberman’s tryout was cut short after aggravating a right quad injury. The injury caused Silberman to call it quits after only her second kick off attempt.
According to ESPN, her first kick off attempt, at the 35-yard line went 19 yards and her second went only 13 yards. With one more kick off and five field goal attempts, Silberman tried to convince officials to let her continue but after a discussion, her day eas ended. Although, she wasn’t able to continue in her journey toward the NFL, we have to give her props for attempting to go out there and compete with the guys. Hopefully this is just the beginning, can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.
Delonte West to the D-League
It’s been a long rocky road for former Celtic Delonte West. After being released by the Dallas Mavericks and receiving no interest by other NBA teams, West has changed his mind about playing for the NBA’s D-League. According to Yahoo Sports, NBA teams have been uneasy about taking a change on West who is known for his “behavioral issues” and battling bi-polar disorder.
Playoffs are only two months away and playing in the league may be the only way he might work his way back into the NBA. It was announced in February that West will play for the Texas Legends; however, West never arrived. With the realization that this might be his last chance to get back on an NBA team, West has apparently reconsidered a place in the D-League. If he plays well with the team the possibility of him picking up a 10 day contract with the NBA before the season ends is a lot more plausible.
Video of the Week:
It’s taken pop culture by storm for the entire month of February and it’s become the next “Gangnam Style”. Harlem Shake videos are popping up everywhere you look. The crazy fad has been re-created by businesses, celebrities and now the University of Kentucky.
As an athlete and sports personality I feel blessed every time I’m asked to do a charity event that involves physical activity. There is something about getting the blood pumping and the endorphins going that makes the effort all the more exhilarating and rewarding.
Thursday’s ICycle event was right in my wheelhouse.
The financial district of Boston is one of the least likely places to stage a cycling event. Fortunately, for all the participants the bikes were stationary, although the cause we
were riding for is a rapidly growing issue.
Homelessness is everywhere.
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia challenged the Boston media along with the rest of the public to hop on a bike to benefit “HomeStart” an organization focused on ending and preventing homelessness in the Greater Boston area.
“I wish I could join these media cyclists for the ICycle, but I will be in spring training,” Saltalamacchia said. “The event is sure to be a crowd pleaser as our media friends are giving their time and sweat equity for a cause. Giving back to the community means a lot to me and I appreciate the cyclists efforts.”
Riding a bike for an hour next to WCVB TV’s Bob Halloran, and NESN’s Tom Caron made the trek easy. There was plenty of sports banter and jokes to keep us laughing and moving.
“Hey TC,” I said. “I heard Manny is going to Taiwan to play with the Rhinos. Talk about an elephant in the room.”
“They should start making the movie now,” Caron deadpanned.
We all had a good time for a very serious cause.
“While we want people to have fun at ICycle, we also hope they understand the important message behind it,” said Linda Wood-Boyle, Executive Director of HomeStart. “The ICycle event is just one way we can simulate a fraction of the many challenges those struggling with homelessness must face.”
When I arrived at International Place for my 10:30am time slot, I realized the event was taking place outside on the street corner. For whatever reason, I thought we would be set up in the lobby of the building. I worried that I wore the wrong jacket to keep warm, along with not having a hat or gloves.
I warmed up just fine during the cycle, but it made me wonder about those who live and sleep on the streets without a coat, or hat, or gloves. It made me think of what I take for granted.
When my cycle session was over, I was asked by an event organizer to answer a question on camera. The question was, “What does home mean to you?”
My answer required very little thought and came straight from the heart.
Like we all learned from the Wizard of Oz, ‘There’s no place like home.’ It’s where the love is, and where we feel safe and secure. Now that I have two kids in college, I can’t wait for them to come home for the holidays, and I know that they feel the same. It’s the place where the light is always on. It’s where we laugh and cry, grow up and grow older. It’s “home.”
I feel so lucky to have a place to call home, but there are far too many who can’t say the same. The good news is, there are ways we can change that, right here in our own backyard.
For more information on HomeStart, please visit www.homestartinc.org .