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Of Chris Herren, A.J. Bunel, Dave McCulloch and other things

POSTED July 09, 2013
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


 

                     Of Chris Herren, A.J. Bunel, Dave McCulloch and other things 

 

            Some mid-week July thoughts as the summer sizzles along.

            If you are a sports book reader and I am, particularly stories dealing with high schools, Bill Reynolds, outstanding Providence Journal columnist, has a must-read called `Basketball Junkie’.

            The book is a follow-up to his best-selling `Fall River Dreams’ (another must read) written in the mid-1990s about the rise of Durfee High (Fall River, Mass.) basketball sensation Chris Herren and the seeds of the deepest of falls.

            Within six years Herren was with the Boston Celtics. Along the way he lost his career and almost everything else in a run-away emotional and drug-plagued descent into hell.

            Herren is clean now and you hope he stays that way. But, frankly you aren’t sure. Read the book. In fact do yourself a favor and pick up `Fall River Dreams’ first and then read the book. It reaches down deep to find you.

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            Here’s hoping for better days for Waterbury baseball legend, Dave McCulloch, who at 53-years-old is suffering from severe heart problems after a serious heart attack in April. McCulloch pitched Waterbury I to the American Legion state title in 1978 and was a major force in the Twi-Met League in later years. Too young for all of this.

            There is a Dave McCulloch benefit dinner July 28 from 2-6 p.m. at the AOH club on Golden Hill Street in Waterbury. Tickets ($20) can be purchased at the door or in advance through Vic Rinaldi (203-509-6793). Rinaldi is one of McCulloch’s former players and coached Lewis Mills baseball for seven seasons.

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            A good friend and a just a good man, Rev. Peter Marsden passed away Saturday. Our area sports world might remember Peter as a softball umpire, basketball referee and frequent participant in area basketball and bowling leagues during his time in the area as pastor at churches in Thomaston, Woodbury and Warren.

            Just a month ago, Peter ran in the Litchfield Hills Road Race, finishing under two hours at the age of 72. He was a kind, decent guy that I had the privilege of spending some time on the golf course with and in good conversation. He will be missed.

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            Colleague Pat Tiscia is airing a photo he had taken recently at Camden Yards of him and former AL MVP and Oriole first baseman, Boog Powell. Pat appreciates history and good baseball so despite his Yankee leanings, you know he enjoyed this. And I’m sure Pat was nice to Boog because he looks the size of a 7-ounce can in Andre the Giant’s hand when standing next to the 6-foot-4 or so Powell who is one rather large side of beef.

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            Has anybody seen Jordan Williams? You remember him, right? Former Torrington High and Maryland star, drafted No. 36 by the New York Nets in the 2011 NBA draft. Played one season and then disappeared into the night. More on this someday I guess. In the meantime, tell him we said hi.

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            A big congratulations to former Gilbert School basketball star Aaron Bunel on his marriage to Alyssa Fontana Saturday. Bunel, now a music teacher at Thomaston High School, is also one of THS basketball coach Gary Franklin’s top assistants. The happy couple looks, well, very happy. This one was a layup.

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            A tip of the cap to Celtics GM Danny Ainge on the hiring of Butler coach Brad Stephens. If you are going to start over you are going to start over and the Celtics are starting over. How long before Rajon Rondo is gone? Stephens is a great young mind, so why not give him a chance.  The NBA has swallowed up a lot of the best, but this one is worth a shot.

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            Waterbury’s Ryan Gomes has already had a 7-year NBA career to be proud of. But, he is looking to get in the league and has been in contact with some teams. You root for Gomes, not just because he is local, but because he is a good guy. He gives his time and his program to supply schools with defibulators has been outstanding. Here’s hoping he gets another go-around. Somewhere Big Reg (Gomes’ high school coach at Wilby Reggie O’Brien) is smiling.

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            They gave up their todays for our tomorrows. I was on Omaha Beach and at Point du Hoc and the American Cemetery in Normandy on the 4th of July. It is an experience that sticks with you and reverberates deep down. It is a special place. A place for tomorrows.

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