sports column

11/19/2020
My father, on “good” years when his work permitted it, would get away in the autumn on short deer-hunting trips to Western Maine, about a four-hour drive away from our house in Massachusetts. “He’s out harassing wildlife,” my mother would say when he was gone. Her disdain for hunting was evident in her voice.  My late mother grew up in Indiana and Michigan in a family that hunted. During the depression, wild game was an important part of how her father fed the family. My grandfather brought home deer, rabbits, squirrels, and an occasional bear to provide for his wife and five children. Later...

NEW SNOW DUSTS the ground around the 18th hole at Ralph Myhre Golf Course in Middlebury on Tuesday, Nov. 3 — Election Day. Although temps sank to 28 degrees that day, a reprise of 60s and sun visited Addison County in the following days extending the 2020 golf season. Photo by Karl Lindholm
11/12/2020
I was hoping to get my pals together for one last round of golf before we shut it down for the winter. Monday night last week, Election Eve, was cold with snow on the way, and, sure enough, the next morning, we were greeted with three inches of heavy snow. I felt some slim hope as warm weather was predicted for the weekend. I checked the tee times page at the website of our local course (Ralph Myhre) and found no times listed for Saturday and Sunday. I figured the course must have closed for the year on Nov. 1, a reasonable end date, most years. I called the golf shop nonetheless, expecting a...

FRANK GRANT IS considered the best of the 19th-century Black ballplayers and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2006. In 1887, while playing for Buffalo, he led the International League in batting with a .353 average. Grant played in Middlebury in 1893 and ’94 for the Cuban Giants against the college boys.
10/29/2020
Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series inspired by the centennial this year of baseball’s Negro Leagues. Baseball, the American version of the British games of cricket and rounders, began in an organized fashion in the United States with actual contests in the 1840s. By the time of the Civil War, “base ball” (two words in those days) was a big deal in the U.S.  In the Civil War, both the Union and Confederate armies played the game in their ample downtime. It was a favorite pastime for Black soldiers too: 180,000 freed slaves fought for the North. After the war, these soldiers...

MARK DICKERSON WORKS to net a photo of his father, Matthew Dickerson, who worked to net this brown trout. Brian Cadoret net them both with one shot.
10/22/2020
The rain came rolling in on Thursday with a forecast of three days of precipitation. After a summer both dryer and warmer than average, the state needed rain, so I didn’t complain too loudly despite the risk to my fishing plans. By Friday, however, it had become clear that the rain wasn’t going to last as long as initially anticipated. When I saw it was supposed to peter out by dawn on Saturday, I messaged Brian Cadoret and we shifted our scheduled outing from “tentative” to “definite.” On Saturday, I pulled into the riverside pull-off and Brian was waiting for me, rigging his rod. A few...

LEFTY JOHNNY PODRES, who hailed from upstate New York just across Lake Champlain, pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their first World Series title in 1955 and was celebrated in this Topps baseball card.
10/15/2020
It’s October — time to talk a little baseball, right? League playoffs now, World Series coming right up.  Alas, only the hardball diehards in this strangest of all baseball seasons are paying close attention to the end of this baseball season. My friends, there is some great baseball being played right now.  A couple of those diehards, Bill Kingston and I, sat at a table outside the Otter Creek Bakery on a chilly sunny morning recently doing just that, talking baseball. Bill is a lifelong Dodger fan and was proclaiming his loyalties, dressed entirely in Dodger blue adorned with “LA” insignia...

OUR COLUMNIST SHOWS off what he believes to be one of the most beautiful fish in North America — a Dolly Varden char caught during a fishing trip in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Matthew Dickerson
10/01/2020
When I visited Alaska in 2003 with my father for a six-day wilderness float trip, bookended on both sides by day-and-a-half-long visits to a wilderness fishing lodge, I thought it would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Alaska is neither inexpensive nor particularly easy to visit. And between the breathtaking landscape and outstanding backcountry fishing — including landing two king salmon over 30 pounds on a fly rod — the trip was so thoroughly enjoyable and beautiful that it would have qualified as once-in-a-lifetime.  But 15 years later my brother Ted and his family moved to Alaska. Ted (an...

CHARLEY SYKES, MIDD ’57, goes to the hoop: “He plays with the ease of a pro and is the picture of poise and composure.” Photo courtesy of the family
09/24/2020
Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series inspired by the centennial of baseball’s Negro Leagues. “Whether confronting the challenges of world population growth or the nutritional needs of children, building a hospital or overseeing disaster relief, you have been there to serve and to care for the present and future needs of some of the world’s most impoverished people. Your lifetime commitment to CARE and the needs of people in developing countries is a matter of great pride for your alma mater and serves as an inspiration for others who will follow you from this place.” These are the...

MOST RED SOX fans know that Elijah “Pumpsie” Green (above left) was the first African American player for the Boston Red Sox, the last team in Major League Baseball to integrate.
09/10/2020
Latest in a series of reflections inspired by the 2020 centennial of Baseball’s Negro Leagues. Larry Doby was the second Black player in the major leagues, first appearing for the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947, just 10 weeks after Jackie Robinson’s debut for the Dodgers. Every year on April 15, Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day. There’s no Larry Doby Day.  Unlike Robinson, 28, who had a terrific year for Brooklyn, Larry Doby, just 23, struggled in his first season, playing in only 21 games and batting just .156. The next year, however, along with the ageless Satchel...

Photo courtesy of Matthew Dickerson
09/03/2020
My wife Deborah and I recently moved from an in-town dwelling in Middlebury back to an in-woods dwelling in Bristol. In the house we just left, it was hard to look in any direction without seeing another house. In the house we just moved back into, it’s hard to look and not see trees and leaves. Most of the year, we can’t see neighbors. We enjoyed our six years living in town. But now I have traded the pleasure of morning walks down to Haymaker for a bun and mocha for the very different pleasure of morning walks through the woods and fields by our house — leisurely, mindful, attentive walks...

THE ILLUSTRATIONS IN Kadir Nelson’s “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball” will take your breath away. The book is a must-read for baseball fans.
08/27/2020
Editor’s note: Third in a series on the centennial of baseball’s Negro leagues. Perhaps you have seen the cover of the New Yorker magazine from June 22. It has been widely circulated. This cover is a stunning portrait of George Floyd, from his head to his waist. Floyd’s expression is sober, impassive, expressionless; he looks right out at the viewer — you, me, as if to say, “and what are you going to do about it?” The painting is nearly monochromatic — dark tones, black and gray and brown against a pure white background. Powerful symbolic images of America’s violent racial past are depicted...

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