This time, it’s as a tele-journalist. So forget the Mass Pike traffic. This is the information superhighway, baby!!!!!!
It’s an amazingly small, small world. And, for any believers out there, HE IS RISEN. But, ahhh, why give this any religious connotations? (Okay, but I can hint, can’t I?) So yes, David Bagdon, the man in charge over at the Community Advocate with offices in Westboro, got wind that I had been writing about the GOLDEN age of sports in Marlboro at BedrockSportsMarlboro.com and reached out.
“Maybe we can collaborate in some way,” he emailed.
A screenshot of my first story for the Community Advocate is below.
Well, we agreed that I would write freelance stories for them three times a month. I have written (with one published already) two stories since for the CA. Wait, CA is California, right? No, Community Advocate, and I have no idea if they go by those letters or not. Wait, do I now say, “We” instead of “They”? Ho, ho, ho. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, shall we? It’s only two articles. The proof is in the endurance, so we’ll see how far this gets. But it’s off to a good start. The first story about legendary Shrewsbury football coach Mario Marchisio (link at bottom of post) was super fun. That man was a classic example of how things used to get done.
Next up, to run this Friday, is a story on Tommy and Bobby Williams, and if you were around Hudson and Marlboro in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, you know who they are. But this is a good time to say a few things about this new gig. First of all, I’m GLAD and honored to be back covering the area. I wrote sports for the Enterprise-Sun from 1981 through 1986 and did some work for the Middlesex News and Boston Herald sports departments in 1987.
But who is Wayne Braverman and why am I mentioning him? Well, there’s something I’ve got to get \off my chest. It was 1986 and I was humming along at the Enterprise-Sun as the sports editor, having just covered the World Series. But there were NEW owners, Beacon Communications, taking over. I can honestly say I was working my ASS off, but these new Beacon people were based in Acton and all communications were sent through the computer system, a crude forerunner of the Internet I suppose. Hmmm, I wonder what that program was.
Well anyway, with barely an introduction, I got a written communication from Mr. Braverman, who in one fell swoop, explained what my new job duties would be. It was a really, really, really long and detailed list that I (expletive) hated looking at and thought was supremely unfair, but I didn’t know how to react. Thanks a lot, man. No phone call. No meeting. No discussion about what my role had been before and what they may have liked or not liked about what I was doing. Just a “DO THIS” list.
I came across that list a few months ago when we made crosstown Mililani, Hawaii, move. I put it back deep into the ol’ paperwork, kind of burying the thought of it. Until now, of course, which is the perfect time to bring it up. Because: I’M BAAAAACK. So, I made the biggest mistake of my career back then, one that I was so stupid that I promised myself that I would NEVER REPEAT it again as time went on. I do not blame Mr. Braverman for what I decided to do. He was the catalyst for sure, but hey, I am responsible for what I choose to do.
And so I put a letter of resignation on the publisher’s desk the next day. I gave them all I had and so I figured they might even ask me to stay. But no. Such is the ULTIMATE reality of the working world: everybody is replaceable. Better to learn it at 26 than much later, when you have a wife and kids, etc. And so the reality of it all sunk in fast. The Enterprise-Sun moved on and so did I, but I was miserable for a few years.
The Middlesex News did not have a full-time job opening and the Boston Globe’s Vince Doria said the encouraging, “Yes, you have good stuff” along with the not so encouraging, “But so do many, many other people.” So I did some part-time work at the Middlesex. It was many steps below where I had been and I did not have the energy at that time to prove myself all over again. So that didn’t last. Again, my fault.
A soft landing was in my future, but not right away.
After being unemployed (and collecting unemployment partly from the Enterprise-Sun coffers) for about a year and while in my new (miserable) role as customer service representative at Shawmut Bank in Framingham and then Waltham, the Enterprise-Sun sports editor job opened up sometime in 1988. It was at that time that the offices moved one lot North of the old Stop & Shop Maple St. location into what looked like a beautiful new building.
And so I applied, thinking maybe I would be able to get the job back and return to some form of inner happiness. I was willing to admit that it was a mistake to quit the first time around (even though I did not like their bullying tactics). But no. Rick Lombardi, the editor, greeted me for an interview. Haha, and he also reminded me that I had collected unemployment money partially on their dime and that was not a good thing.
The times were certainly different in the 1980s than they were, say, in the ’60s. One of the grand old tales Ralph Grasso (who hired me at the Enterprise-Sun) told me about those glory days was that publisher Bob Pryor probably fired him five times and he had quit another five times. Ralph was probably exaggerating. But then again, most likely all it took to patch things up between these Marlboro press scions was to get together and play a round of golf and enjoy a round of drinks and a cigar and a game of cards at the Marlboro Country Club lounge.
And so, Rick Lombardi (nice guy and Facebook friend now) wasn’t gong to fall for my pleading for my job back to make it a feel-good ending like in some Oscar Madison/Felix Unger Odd Couple episode. This was hard ball, friends. In ’87, I also applied and could have taken a sports reporter job at the Fitchburg Sentinel. But they wanted to pay me about $5,000 less than what I had been making and it seemed like a far drive so I turned it down. Probably dumb again.
Poor me. Crying in my beer and mai tais at the Fortune Garden. I thought I would never get back into sports journalism. But a funny thing happened. I moved to Kauai (where my brother Joe had been living since ’83). After a few weeks, I wondered if there was a newspaper around, and sure enough, there was a small outfit, The Garden Island newspaper that was even smaller than the Enterprise-Sun. They hired me in November 1989 to do news, and by 1991, I was covering sports. That lasted until 2000, when I moved to Oahu and took a sports editing/reporting job at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. And after a merger into a paper called the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in 2010, I stayed on until a voluntary layoff in the topsy-turvy COVID-19 year of 2020.
A website, NickAbramo.com started in May 2020 and that was rebranded into BedrockSportsHawaii.com in September. In October, BedrockSportsMarlboro.com began. While freelancing for the Community Advocate, I will continue on with the websites, and that will provide a great opportunity for cross promotion — like this story!!!
Super interestingly, Bagdon mentioned that my name sounded familiar and as it turns out, we both graduated from Worcester State College in 1983. Not only that, there was a good chance we commuted together a few times because we had a mutual friend in George Demake (also a 1983 WSC grad). I played hockey for the Lancers with Demake, who was living in Shrewsbury, and he would actually drive me to and from Marlboro for practice at Worcester’s ancient Webster Square Arena once in a while when my white 1968 beat-up Plymouth Barracuda convertible wouldn’t start.
My brother Dave sold me that car for $200 and I never paid him. Haha. Later on, Dave became a used car dealer. Nowadays, he runs Mass Auto Outlet in Shrewsbury and also refurbishes old MOPARS and ships them off to buyers all over the country.
During our first Zoom call, Bagdon dropped the names of Marlboroites Tony Speranzella and Brian Libby, who I remember running into at the clubs on weekend nights in those heady party days.
Oh, wait, I would also like to point out that the CA refers to me as a sports columnist, a nice tip of the cap. Columnists typically get more leeway than reporters to write first-person accounts with a VOICE. Cool!!! I had a column at the Enterprise-Sun and The Garden Island, so at least I’m not a rookie at it.
Back in the saddle, so to speak.
Oh, and a big thanks to David for the opportunity to get back to my roots!!!!!! For further reading on these topics, I suggest: