NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 22, 2014

What fun we had playing basketball

(Continued)

I was pretty deadly from the corners and had a free throw average in the low 90s. We had another deadly corner shooter on our team also.

Back then we started practice with 10 free throws and we ended practice with 10 more free throws. Our coach believed that we should make a high percentage of these “free shots.”

We were lucky kids back then because our parish leaders kept us off the streets. During winter months we had Sunday morning basketball, 10 to noon, and then afternoon games 1 to 4.

Spring and summer we were fortunate to have two outdoor courts to play on: one at the park, the other in the back of one of the local Irish schools. At the high school court, players from across the city came to challenge us “locals” to games. Back in these days, Worcester had a semi-pro team that played games on Sundays at the city landmark, Mechanics Hall.

Members of this team were: an original Celtics player, a member of Holy Cross’ NCAA champs, one player from Ohio State, one from Michigan State and two players from a small Texas school, Trinity Tech, the team that upset Adolph Rupp’s great Kentucky team.

Well, this team got together on Wednesday nights for practice at my school’s gym, as many members also belonged to the parish.

These were awesome athletes, as some of them also played semi-pro softball in the days of Rollie Wetzell and his Raybestos team from Connecticut.

The best event of this four-year period was when our coach invited me and my two high school buddies to join these Wednesday practices. Wednesday came and here we were, playing with the “big boys.”

Play started at 7 and never ended till 11, as it was always another game of 20 baskets (they had us three young ones), shower, dress and head down to Luke’s dinner for 15-cent hot dogs and chocolate milk. I would be lucky to get home by Thursday at 1 a.m.

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