Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Looking at sports letters sent to Santa
NORTH POLE — It wasn't James Bond difficult, but getting to look at letters to Santa Claus was not easy.
He had a whole desk full of letters from our sports folks. I don't know how Santa will come through or what might be coming in the year, but the list is long and varied.
Dear Santa: Thank you for the Taconic baseball banquet Friday night, and thanks for the exquisite state championship rings. Now, can you get us our turf football/soccer/lacrosse stadium and can you provide us with a new, and workable, scoreboard for Wahconah Park? Sincerely, sports fans in Pittsfield.
The best part of Friday's banquet, and thanks for the invite, was seeing the players wearing their rings. For those of us who are comic book geeks, it looked like a Green Lantern convention. For those of you not familiar, read the book.
And to the UNICO folks, a job very well done.
Here's hoping Santa comes through on both items. The easier one will be the workable scoreboard at the old ballpark on Wahconah Street. It will obviously help.
Dear Santa: As much as we all enjoy playing for Western Massachusetts and state football championships, games for Berkshire teams at Gillette Stadium have been, at least, on the scoreboard, a bit of a downer. Can our high school teams catch a break when they play on the Kraft Family's home turf, and bring a state title back to The Berkshires?
Thank you. Sincerely, high school football coaches.
OK, so Berkshire County — and by extension Pioneer Valley — football teams are still winless at Gillette in state championships. What's it going to take?
I'm not sure of the answer, but I'm not sure it matters a lot. The players seem to love going to the Razor, and the outcome appears to be secondary to being there.
Dear Santa: How about a 6-foot-10 player with some mad ball skills and perhaps a four-start rating? Best wishes, UMass men's basketball coach Matt McCall.
Dear Santa: Can we get a coach who can build a program? All the best, UMass basketball fans.
The fans got their gift early. McCall's Minutemen, after Friday's win over Maine, stood at 7-6, and were 7-1 in the friendly confines of the Mullins Center.
McCall is doing it with a 16-player roster and only 11 actual players. One, Jaylen Brantley, was ruled out because of a medical condition and four other scholarship players are sitting out due to transfer rules.
The future appears bright thanks to a small, but talented recruiting class that includes four-star forward Samba Diallo.
And maybe Christmas came early for UMass fans when Pat Kelsey bailed on his being hired as head coach. He is still at Winthrop, and Winthrop's best win came against Furman. Compare that with McCall's best wins against Providence and Georgia.
So Happy Holidays, UMass fans.
Dear Santa: Can you make sure that this year's recruiting class has the same impact as last year's? Sincerely, Williams football coach Mark Raymond.
Bobby Maimaron, T.J. Rothmann, Jarrett Wesner, Frank Stola, Justin Burke, Pat Watson. Those are just a few of the first-years that Raymond and his staff helped coach up and get the Ephs back on the plus side of .500. A year after going 0-8, the Ephs finished up 6-3.
So, if the incoming class is as good as last year's, it might not be long before Williams is contending with Trinity, Amherst and Wesleyan for NESCAC titles.
Dear Santa: I see where Harvard and Yale are playing at Fenway Park in 2018. Since the football field will probably be up before that game, can you convince Amherst College to move the Williams-Amherst game to Fenway the week before? Sincerely, A Berkshire Eagle sportswriter.
Because of construction at Harvard Stadium, "The Game" will be played at the lyric bandbox on Yawkey Way, so why not "The Biggest Little Game in America?" Moving Williams-Amherst for a year had been talked about off-and-on for more than a decade. But since the football field will be there, there is no better time than 2018.
And to one and all, a very Merry Christmas.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, and 413-496-6253.
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