It was six years ago this September when a young 22 year-old assistant fitness director (who was in his last year at Northeastern) approached CRFC owner Ed Soul about starting up a basketball league. Edís first reaction was “Do I have to spend any money?” After the soon to be Commish convinced him that it would be good ($) for the gym, he got the green light and started advertising, primarily through the large pick-up following. The Commish, the wolverine, and myself put our heads together and put together a not so brief yet entertaining history of how we got to where we are today, wherever that is.
The Scene: The 2000 Fall A League
We only have one league and eight total teams. Itís tough to imagine, but we have no website. After the eight captains drafted their squads, the Commish had all players sign a waiver, primarily due to the scare that someone will break down with a case of claustrophobia since most people arenít use to playing full-court ball in a racquetball court. Before the fly reversibleís that we rock now, we wore a pinny that the league provided and you were happy just not to have to go skins. If we didnít have enough pinnies for the night, you got stuck with a drenched one that someone wore in the previous game (this is completely true by the way). Needless to say, everyone wanted the first game. We share the gym with the aerobics people (no game started before 8 PM, so yes, there were 10:15 PM games!) because the aerobics studio we have today used to be a bar/restaurant where staff/members could easily take their shot at other staff/members. Before the first game each Monday night, we have to lug all of the aerobic steps and equipment out of the court, into the hallway. The funny thing is that the same people, week in and week out, would only pretend to move equipment or simply refuse to move any equipment at allÖcoughÖKevin ScottÖcough Iím sorry I get caught up sometimes taking this trip down memory lane. As I was describing, two people kept score since we had the old school plastic numbers on a rolodex that you have to flip, while time was kept on a stopwatch up on the balcony. I took the stats down, back when everyone used to beg me for more assists (I was very uptight with assists back in the day), while the legendary icon, Joey McMaster, formally known as Diesel, worked the stop watch and scoreboard.
Before the first game of the year, the Commish has an ingenious and unheard of idea. Not only does he ask us to keep track of individual player stats, he wants to summarize the games played and to post them on the board outside the basketball court. Dieselís initial reaction was ìWhat?!?î then followed by ìWho is going to want to read about basketball games played by washed up athletes?î The answer, EVERYONE, as it turns out that people strangely love hearing about how good they are. The Commish, with help from Diesel, does the majority of the write ups before officially handing over duties to Diesel for CRFC BBallís 3rd season ñ Summer 2001. Mind you, Diesel was hired as a trainer here and was built like a house, but by looking at him, you wouldnít think that he could carry on a conversation, let alone count to 11 without removing his socks and shoes. However, after the Commish heard countless side splitting remarks yelled out by Diesel from the balcony, he had to put him to work doing the write ups. Diesel was a natural at entertaining the masses with his profound prose and hilarious wit, which included the coining of some of the greatest nicknames that stick today, i.e. Wolverine, Tical, Commish, Black Ice, Pretty BoyÖto mention a few of the many. Although me and the Wolverine had suspicions that someone was ghostwriting for Diesel, seeing as how it use to take a full week for write ups to be posted outside the basketball courts, you could tell just by talking to Diesel that it was all him. Can any of you imagine a world where write ups take a week??? It sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel or a world with out DVD players and iPods for all I know. However, without even knowing it, Diesel sets the standards for write-ups that the likes of myself, Filosa, Tibbs, Serge and the newest and hottest writer-upper, D-Mac, follow in order to keep the CRFC following informed and entertained. Not only did Diesel elevate the write ups to their highest form, he was the innovator that began the comical interviews (Diesel Talk).
I am 16 and folding towels like a champ in the laundry room of CRFC on the weekends, making an astounding $6.25/hr. But back then, it was only $10 to fill up my hunnie-wagon 88 Sentra. The Commish, the assistant fitness director and Sunday manager, discovered my natural talent when I sunk 8 consecutive dirty towels into a bin from 25 feet away. Soon he asked me to sign up for the league and I did. Being a strapping 130 pounds, I fall to the 4th round of the inaugural draft. In my first game, I get killed in the write ups, ìOíCal is a great defender, but let him shoot all day.î Back then, with everyone knowing each other, the Commish and Diesel would bury people for sub-par play in the write-ups. That comment stuck with me even to this day and I never forgot it, especially by winning the championship that 1st season. And yes, there was a time when I won bricks here, despite Kevin Scott dropping 40 points and 20 boards on me one game that season, primarily due to my youthful inexperience and prior to my steroid usage.
The Wolverine is a more mortal, a first round draft pick with an impeccable reputation for rebounding, despite only being 6 feet tall. Soon after watching him play a couple of games, comic book aficionado Diesel begins yelling out from the balcony after every tenacious rebound Matt gets over his bigger opponents, ìBeware of the Wolverine!î Diesel would always say, that on the court Matt was, ìPound for pound the strongest player out there,î just like wolverines in the wild. That was true until the Wolverine trapper, Kevin ìBunyonî Walsh, became the first and only person ever to completely shut down the Wolverine in a game. The Commish legitimately pulled Walsh off the squat machine and asked him to fill in for a game. You thought I forgot about that one Matty, didnít ya? You know Iím the CRFC elephant around here, I never forget and I got a huge trunk. But anyways, the nickname was born and Matt, just like Logan Weapon X, becomes forever known as the Wolverine.
The Commish is yet to be known as the alleged, legendary Sandbagger of the CRFC, mostly due to future drafts where he would conveniently end up with a 20 point scorer in the 4th round cough…Kyle HoffmanÖcough. Excuse my cold again. As I was saying, at times, the Commish does it all, playing, keeping stats, write ups, scoreboard, reffing, the list goes on. All of those things he does are to make sure the league gets off the ground and ensures everyone is happy.
The Early League Greats ñ Filosa, Poulos, Meldrim, Kevin OíNeil. Not to mention the always interesting, for lack of a better word, Traveling Jim Desilva, who wasnít much of a talent on the court as he was on the future website message boards. The OTJ as he became known as was the most colorful person to ever grace the CRFC walls. Desilvaís own legacy read: Only person to survive after continually agitating the Big Dawg, Tony Sears, responsible for coining Ripleyís nickname as the Iceberg, the only person to have everyone scream ìTravel!î as soon as he touched the rock [yet he never thought he took the extra step(s)], was Dirtyís biggest fan, author of several hilarious NEWS articles found on the website tabs including the Dirty and Poulos pick up showdown [seriously if you havenít read it, click the news tab, then ìPick Up Specialî], and just an unforgettable presence.
The Scene: 2001 Fall Draft
In order to capture his own brick, the Wolverine calls in his goons from Saugus to help him out. Without anyone else knowing exactly how good of a player Chris McMahon was when he entered the draft in the Fall of 01, Matt trades his top 3 picks (Kevan Comstock, Mark Marsico, and Kyle Hoffman) to Diesel for the player soon to be known as the Chise. Greg Poulos (Pretty Boy) hits what becomes known as the Poulos Prayer against Dieselís team in the Semiís, a æ court shot that wins the game. Diesel not only trades away the best player ever in CRFC history, but loses on a æ court shot in the playoffs, all in one season. The very next season, the Wolverine hits an overtime walk off, half court shot to win back to back championships, probably the most exciting back to back seasons we have ever had.
Over the next three years, the Commish sheds no expense improving the league. We get the Light Bright scoreboard after the first year and then the next one, we get our own reversables. We painted and refinished the court after a brainstorming session by the Commish and Wolverine at a Celtics game. In the Winter of 02-03, the Commish, in collaboration with Tim Hinkel, create the most popular website in Massachusetts, beating out OnLineBuddies.com and RateMyRack.com by a combined 557 hits in the year. We made the change to one scorekeeper right as Diesel bowed out of doing the write ups in Fall of 02, passing the torch to yours truly with some enormous shoes to fill. The small community of players that started playing in the league only grows as I start to enable that you absorb crack by reading the write ups from your computer screen, thus leading people to become CRFC addicts. Other early memorable moments include:
In the Fall of 2002, in a rare moment of frustration, Mike Kaup is inbounding the ball when he fires it off of Mike Roacheís back, after the two exchanged some pushing and shoving under the hoop. After getting hit by that ball at the 3 point line, Roache picks the ball up and drains the 3, leaving the ball to fall right back into Kaupís hands, who was still standing underneath the hoop.
In the Summer of 2002, the inaugural League Night Out, AKA ìLeague Drinking Nightî is instituted at the Sports Grill. Highlights include: Ian Macintosh passed out on the curb, Raj drinking white wine, Kevin Scott with his Garmoniei, McMahon smoking like a fiend, Kevin OíNeill punching the Golden Tee video game, nightcap in the combat zone followed by late night eats at Chow Chow City. Good times.
In the Summer of 2004, Feddy St Pierre (The Freak named after Jevon Kearse) breaks the single game scoring record by dropping an astounding 60 points in 36 minutes of play. Poulos still lays claim to the 32 minute game scoring record with 56 points. In the Championship game, DMac or Contact McClaren as he was referred to as, calls a controversial 5 second call against the Commish with his team down 1 with 30 seconds to play. They would go on to lose the game and DMac ensured that heíd never get a raise.
In the Fall of 2004, Kevin Scott finally gets his brick, shaking Edwin Harmonís curse of Kevin Scott.
Scene: Winter 2004
The A league was an instant success and continues to be today, however flash forward a couple years from the Fall 00, and the all time leading rebounder and scorer returns from his mid or as he says it was his ìquarterî-life crisis, consisting of playing squash and watching Skinamax, to approach the Commish about expanding into a another league. The Commish (who is now been promoted to Fitness Director of CRFC), after reaping the benefits of a successful and addictive 3 and a half years of CRFC basketball, now yielding Jon Gotti power, tells the Wolverine to roll with the idea and the B league is born. The Wolverine takes the reigns as B League Commissioner and his original plan is to have a league that is just as competitive, but with slightly less talent, so there is a place where the A league role players can shine and get some write up love. He does his best Josh impressions and does it all in the first league, stats, write ups, reffing, etc. Modeling himself after both the Commish and Diesel, Matt makes his mark on CRFC by establishing his very own style. However, as seasons pass, more and more players from the B leagues are gaining the proper respect at CRFC. The Early B Greats ñ Hanson, Godfrey, Bain, JayPro, Danielson, and the charismatic Prof, who was the squeakiest wheel when it came to expanding into a B league. Soon, the B league catches steam and recruitment ensues. With the help of Tom Duval, all members of the Kai and ALS past and present, Ian Whitney, Adam Kneeland, Jay Sar and many more, the league becomes just as competitive and entertaining as the A league, especially today.
Other memorable B moments include:
Winter 2004 ñ Jon Hanson wins inaugural championship with Solid Gold while the Professor Jonathan Mozenter brings clipboards to diagram plays in between timeouts.
Summer 2004 ñ Godfrey Chua becomes first player to win a title in both the CRFC A and B leagues.
Fall 2004 ñ The B league launches itself into A League comparisons with an all-star squad of John Mazzone, Andy Danielson, JayPro, Mike Manning, and Mark Raymond. This talent level spurned the division between B1 and B2.
Scene: The current year, 2006
Winter ñ 1st Annual 3 on 3 tournament in the memory of Andy Danielson to honor his life. Andyís family was in attendance and $3,000 was raised for the Special Olympics.
Summer ñ 1st ever 5 on 5 league established at the Boys and Girls Club in Charlestown, not to mention the successful inaugural Womenís League.
Weíve come along way since our one trick pony days. All in all, there have been some great basketball players and even greater personalities that have graced the CRFC cage. The math speaks for itself. When we started CRFC basketball, we had 1 league and 60 players and now we have 7 leagues and over 350 players, and with full stats, interviews, bloggers, awards, 3 on 3 tourneys and league nights out. Itís no secret why CRFC basketball has exploded. You can play basketball almost anywhere, but there is just something about the CRFC community that makes this basketball so addictive. New pockets of friends are always emerging, too. Although I would love to take all the credit, but seeing as how I am one not to make gross overstatements, this article is meant to give props where they are due and let everyone know that there is a legacy of diligent staff to provide everything you need and want from a basketball league. For those that never had the unspeakable pleasure of knowing him, Diesel would be proud (if we could find him) to see how successful the leagues have become. Iím starting to think Iím going to hear from Jimmy Hoffa before I hear from Diesel. The Commish continues to log in long hours to make sure that every person in the league gets their pennies worth, even if it means grabbing people from the Pine St Inn to sub in, in exchange for a ham sandwich, just to make sure that games are played. The Wolverineís personality, hard work, and dedication always keeps the masses satisfied, even when his refereeing doesnít. Almost driven insane by taking CRFC on as a client seeing as how we all manage to send him about a dozen e-mails daily to make sure everything on the website is not only accurate but perfect, Tim Hinkel takes pride in making sure CRFCís face stays spotless on the website. Jarred Perrine and Mike Manningís work behind the camcorder and camera lens have provided a certain level of nostalgia for those who love to re-live the past. Tibbs, D-Mac, and the Sergen all fit the mold of being competent at their jobs while maintaining that certain level of personality that has become expected from the cornerstones of CRFC. But the most important thing in this league is you, the players. You guys make these leagues successful with your excellent sportsmanship, tremendous competition, and unique personalities. No where else can a player scream at the ref on the court, only to laugh their ass off with the ref after the game or at a league night out. As always, we as a staff welcome any feedback to continue to make the leagues enjoyable, competitive, unique and fun for anyone and everyone who wants to be involved.