Keeping Score: Five College Movers and shakers

Published: 7/30/2021 5:59:55 PM
Modified: 7/30/2021 5:59:59 PM

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Sports teams crave fans who stay to the bitter end, the lonely few who holler “C’mon we can do it!” while everyone else is headed to the exits.

Pat MacWilliams became that sort of fan after he moved to Amherst from Tacoma Park, Maryland, in 1997. “I had no interest in basketball at all until I moved here and started listening to Jack Leaman on the radio,” said the 35-year-old MacWilliams. “I still don’t like basketball that much, just UMass basketball.”

Leaman coached UMass basketball from 1966-79. After he retired, he umpired high school softball, went to the Hinsdale dog track and was a color commentator until his death in 2004.

“Pretty much ever since I started liking them, they’ve gotten worse,” said MacWilliams, “but as time went on I got more connected and met some great people who’ve become my best friends. Jason Germain from South Hadley, Matt Komer who was a student assistant to Calipari, and the list goes on and on.”

MacWilliams owns Five College Movers and is a longtime UMass radio sponsor. “I love UMass sports probably too much, and I’ve given a lot of money to them, mostly basketball. I don’t like the sport but love UMass basketball. Go figure, right?” 

MacWilliams took it a step further on July 1 when athletes were allowed to make money off their name, image and likeness (NIL). “We’ve signed three players. Noah Fernandes, I like the style he plays, he’s gritty and I think he’ll be all A-10, Sam Breen, her father was the toughest negotiator of all of them, and Bobby Trivigno — I love the way he’s such a pain on the ice. We spoke to their parents and advisers. All of them were astute and knowledgeable.”

The trio signed exclusivity agreements for between $500 and $1,000, and could earn anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000. “Each deal is unique. We didn’t want to say, here’s $10K and we don’t know what we’re doing.”

MacWilliams has begun to formulate a plan. “They’ll do individually tailored podcasts, radio reads and community appearances. We want to bring out the passion of UMass sports. Otherwise, it’ll seem fake and it won’t work.”

Winning games would also help, which is probably why MacWilliams will wait till next year to sign football players.

Speaking of which, the over/under win total at DraftKings for Minutemen football this season is 1½. Gamblers have the option of betting $152 to make $100 that UMass wins at least two games, or $100 to make $120 it doesn’t. Risk the extra cash and bet the over, the Minutemen will get the two wins against Maine and URI.

Give Red Sox GM Chaim Bloom his due, it took him less than two years to build a World Series contender. Alex Verdugo’s clutch hits and enthusiasm are reminiscent of Shane Victorino’s heroics in 2014, and Kike Hernandez didn’t come with the West Coast laissez-faire attitude that some fans feared. Quite the opposite, he hates to lose and the same goes for Hunter Renfroe, whom Bloom signed in December for one year and $3.1 million.

The jury’s still out on Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, Franchy Cordero and Christian Arroyo, while Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana appear headed for the waiver wire.

Pat Kelsey, who left UMass AD Ryan Bamford standing at the altar three years ago, is now at the College of Charleston where he’s replaced current BC coach Earl Grant.

According to WMBF-TV of Myrtle Beach, Kelsey signed a five year deal worth $3 million, starting at $550,000 this year with $50,000 bumps in each subsequent season.

Memo to Greenfield’s Steve Sweeney: Thanks for dropping off “Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series that Changed Baseball” by Luke Epplin.

The book is about the 1948 Cleveland Indians, notably pitchers Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, outfielder Larry Doby and owner Bill Veeck.

Epplin writes that Paige was raised in a “tumbledown” district of Mobile and worked as a porter for the Louisville & National Railroad. One busy day he boasted to his fellow porters, “I carried so many satchels that all you could see was satchels. You couldn’t see no Leroy at all.”

His co-workers laughed and gave Paige the perfect nickname for a legendary career.

BASEBALL NOTES: Can you say boring? Yankees and Red Sox hitters combined to strike out 107 times during their recent four-game series. During a September series in 1978, they combined for 42 strikeouts in four games, according to game logs on baseball-reference.com. In the words of sports host Richard Neer: “I love baseball, but it’s tempting my patience.” … The Rays have a Harvard man, right-hander Sean Poppen who pitched for Crimson coach Bill Decker. “The son of a gun did a heck of a job for us,” Decker told the Virginian Pilot. Decker is a Deerfield native and his father was the principal at Frontier Regional. … Seventeen years ago today, 30-year-old Theo Epstein traded five-time All Star Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs. … “That’s messed up isn’t it?” muttered Dennis Eckersley to NESN’s Dave O’Brien about Cleveland’s new nickname the Guardians.  … ESPN’s Buster Olney said during Sunday Night Baseball that Anthony Rizzo would wind up with the Red Sox. “Anthony Rizzo checks every box,” said Olney. The Yankees must’ve believed him, because on Thursday they traded for the slugging first baseman much like they traded for Jose Canseco in 2000. Canseco is quoted saying that manager Joe Torre told him he wouldn’t be starting, and they got him only to keep him from Boston. Rizzo was drafted by the Red Sox in 2007 and traded to the Padres as part of the ill-fated Adrian Gonzalez deal. Nine months later Theo Epstein was with the Cubs and his first move was to steal Rizzo from the Padres. What goes around was coming around until it reached New York. …  The loquacious Steve Somers of WFAN on the Yankees GM: “Brian Cashman is floating on the Dead Sea of negativity.”…. The Yankees tied a record on Sunday when, for the third time this season, they blew a four-run lead entering the eighth inning. “The Houston one was the worst,” said Boomer Esiason, referring to Jose Altuve’s walkoff blast that capped a six run rally. “That one was like the top of the hamster wheel of turds.” … Lookalikes: former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon and Blue Jays infielder Bo Bichette. … J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers are the latter day version of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Martinez is a doubles machine and the 240-pound Devers is a cobra coiled and ready to strike. … New York’s Giancarlo Stanton struck out for the 100th time this week, leading New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick to suggest the analytic geeks should start measuring his exit velocity from the batters box to the dugout.

SQUIBBERS: The BAA’s “First Lady of Running,” Gloria Ratti, died this summer at age 90. It was Ratti who pushed the stodgy BAA to publish the names and times of all marathon runners, not just the first 100. … Wendell native Scott Woodward is an offensive quality control analyst at the University of Kentucky, hired shortly after his former UMass teammate Liam Coen was named the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator. … Sooner or later, parlay wagering will be coming to New Hampshire’s state run liquor stores. “The product that will be sold in liquor stores and all locations that sell our tickets is SPORTS 603,” emailed N.H. Lottery marketing director Maura McCann, who wouldn’t speculate on a launch date. … They should’ve saved that clip of Tom Brady playing catch with a Juggs machine for April Fool’s Day, because it sure fooled me.

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 chipjet95@yahoo.com


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