The NAHL: Lawrence “Larry” James McCormick

Lawrence “Larry” James McCormick left behind minor fame following his younger brother Joe to Pittsburgh.  Larry drove the Buckingham Seniors of the Lower Ottawa Valley League to three Maclaren Cups, 1907/08, 1912/13 and 1914/15. He captained the team during the 1914/15 run. For Larry, the decision to leave probably was more about supporting family and friends than chasing a cup.

The McCormick’s baptized their newest son, Larry, at St-Gregoire-de-Naziance in Buckingham, Quebec. Locked into tradition, Larry carried it with him throughout life.

Larry remained in Buckingham until 1915. Several factors possibly pushed, pulled or dragged Larry from Buckingham. During the summer, he, Joe and Ed Gorman, a 1927 Stanley Cup winner with the Ottawa Senators, left for Cleveland to play for Mr. Shannon. They quickly found themselves in Pittsburgh. Shannon ran afoul of the Ontario Hockey Association and the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, who banned Cleveland’s team with claims of professionalism. As a result, the group found themselves trying out for the Pittsburgh teams in early January 1916. Roy Schooley picked them up for the Pittsburgh Athletic Association.

Buckingham and Pittsburgh recognized Larry’s shot and situational awareness. Newspapers from 1907 until the 20s commented on it. Roy declared Larry captain of the 1920 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team, which won silver.  Larry played one last season, 1921/22 before transitioning to coaching and refereeing.

Larry coached amateur Pittsburgh teams from the USAHA to the local club level. During his first season of coaching the YellowJackets, he got into an altercation with Canadian Soo player, Charley Boucher. Larry, as one of the two referees, penalized Boucher. Instead of heading to the bench, Boucher skated over to Larry. The Pittsburgh Press indicated Larry came out the better of the scrap. Whether fists flew or not, Larry personified hockey tradition.

Because Larry held-fast to amateurism, he worked as a car mechanic. His occupation in the war years was at Samson’s Motor Company. The employment ended with mobilization into the Army Motor Transport Corps along with teammates Joe McCormick, Herb Drury and Angus Baker. While he may have returned to work for Samson’s after the war, he found a new occupation, husband.

A scribbled note next to his baptism entry marks 19 July, 1921. Larry, much like his brother Joe, were practicing Catholics. Just after that date, Larry married Hazel Marie Chisholm. She probably did not like her first name. On drafts cards or military service compensation, Larry always wrote her name as “H. Marie”.

Around Roy’s death in November 1933, Larry and Marie started looking for a new place to settle. They were in New York for a bit in 1935. Larry came back to Pittsburgh for an old-timer’s game in February 1936. However, they found their home in Barnstable, Massachusetts. After a long illness, Larry passed away on 30 December, 1961 in Hyannis with services held at Our Lady of Victory. Marie’s journey continued until 7 November, 1980.

I think of the brothers as representing the two sides of the hockey coin. Joe represented the new era of hockey players. Whereas, Larry memorialized the hockey players of “then”.

Sat, Jan 12, 1929 – Page 16 · Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/lower-ottawa-valleys-holy-hockey-grail-uncovered
2. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=33599 (Note: Requires paid account)
3. World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Massachusetts. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication M2090, 166 rolls. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A.
4. Institut Généalogique Drouin; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Drouin Collection; Author: Gabriel Drouin, comp
#. Pittsburgh Press, Ottawa Journal and others courtesy of Newspapers.com

The NAHL: Joseph Wallace McCormick

The adventurous Joseph “Joe” Wallace McCormick chased achievement with a principled determination that resulted in multiple hockey championships and an Olympic Silver. Unlike previous players discussed, Joe captained the Pittsburgh All-stars, who were the Navy’s biggest rivals in the National Amateur Hockey League (NAHL). But, Joe was not satisfied with playing top tier amateur hockey. He sought a career in hockey, and something else.

The middle child, Joe sprouted forth on August 12th, 1894 in Buckingham, Quebec. A small town near Ottawa, which is now incorporated into Gatineau. In 1914/15, Joe played for the Buckingham Seniors prior to a move to Cleveland. Joe did not stay long in Cleveland. By the 1915/16 season, Joe established himself in Pittsburgh and became well familiar with Roy Schooley. Like Chippie Gaw, Joe pursued higher education goals while playing hockey. He achieved that goal, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, after the 1920 Olympics. When Joe arrived in Pittsburgh, I doubt he believed a World War would interrupt those studies.

From 1915/16 until 1921/22 season, Joe stayed amateur and remained a student in Pittsburgh. During this time, Joe is at the height of his playing career. The Pittsburgh All-stars, or Yellow Jackets, exert dominance over the local hockey and, then, at the national level in the newly formed US Amateur Hockey Association. In 1918 , Joe and three others from the Pittsburgh All-stars join the U.S. Army. Although they never go farther east than Philadelphia, the Army lacks a top tier hockey team. After the war, he captained the 1920 Men’s US Olympic hockey team in Antwerp to a Silver medal. Despite these successes, Joe refused to be content.

Over the course of the next decade, Joe sought an elusive goal. First, he spent a season with the St. Paul Saints in Minnesota. Then, he traveled west. He played with the Edmonton Eskimos (Western Canada Hockey League) and the resurgent Portland Rosebuds (Western Hockey League). Both of these teams and leagues roiled in scandal and financial turmoil until collapse in 1926. On these teams, Joe still sought something that was not available to amateur hockey.

In 1926, Joe moved back to St. Paul to play for the Saints. By this time, the USAHA and amateur hockey collapsed from prominence in the United States. St. Paul and several other teams created a minor professional league, the American Hockey Association (AHA). Joe spent only one season with St. Paul before moving to the Kansas City Pla-mors. The AHA stirred controversy that impacted many players lives. In a challenge to the NHL, the AHA attempted to create a team in Buffalo. Frank Calder declared the AHA to be an unsanctioned league and barred their players from joining the NHL. While several AHA player applications were rejected, Joe possibly did not apply or try-out for an NHL team.

Joe retired after the 1931/32 season. By 1934, he and his wife moved to Sudbury, Ontario. Although Joe traveled and explored, he never left Buckingham until he moved to Sudbury. He lived in Pittsburgh. He became a U.S. citizen. He played hockey on the West Coast. But, he never left Buckingham. On the 1929 marriage certificate, he listed Buckingham as his place of residence, and not Kansas City. For all his adventures, I think he always wanted a single place to call home.

When it came to marriage, Joe refused to settle for less. Joe married Ann Margaret McArthur on November 6, 1929. Ann Margaret was the daughter of James Joseph McArthur, the famous Canadian explorer. Additionally, they faithfully practiced Catholicism. On the surface, he found someone just as daring yet rooted as himself. After moving to Sudbury, they had two children, D’arcy and Lawrence James. Joe passed away in 1958. While I’m sure that Joe settled, I’m not sure if Joe ever achieved that elusive goal.

Wed, Dec 31, 1924 – 14 · Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. Joe McCormick, SIHR database. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=21779. (Note: Requires Paid Account.)
2. James Joseph McArthur. Wikipedia.
3. University of Pittsburgh. Wikipedia.
4. Multiple newspapers, (Nanaimo, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, etc.) courtesy of newspapers.com

Interlude: Rabbit Holes in Research

Over the course of the past year or so, many puzzles and rabbit holes presented themselves to me. In the most recent post on John Hutchinson, the West Roxbury VA hospital requested military service verification in 1963. John Hutchinson died in 1956. Fold3 indexed several other records of a John Hutchinson born in Massachusetts on July 20, 1891 who died in May, 1978. Who was this second John Hutchinson that might have served in the U.S. Navy and needed medical attention in 1963. Regardless of the answer, this is not the puzzle box that spawned this blog post.

I attempted to verify Ralph Winsor‘s claim that he was Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the First Naval District’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). During that [ongoing] attempt to verify, I uncovered a November 10, 1922 memorandum from the U.S. Naval Attache in Chile to Director of Naval Intelligence.

The memo identified a Japanese woman, Iwo Horiguche, involved in the suicide of Lionel Ryder, Secretary to the U.S. Ambassador.  While the memo mentioned Ryder’s last name, it mainly focused on Horiguche describing her as attractive, well-cultured and fluent in five languages. Finally, she was the guest of the Japanese Charge d’Affaires and his wife. The memo goes on to state that the Ryder was likely betraying secrets to her.

NOTE: Horiguche is likely incorrect. “Che” is not native to Japanese, but “Chi” is. The most common kanji for the Horiguchi surname/family name is 堀口.

Wondering more about the background, the Chicago Tribune ran a small note on October 17. Unfortunately, there is not a lot there. In the July 1922 Annual Report on Naval Attache activities, the Buenos Aires office was “active in uncovering activities of the British-Japanese espionage service in South America and United States.” Espionage rarely happens in a vacuum.

Starting in 1921, the U.S. State Department assisted in the (February) 1922 Shantung Treaty negotiations between Japan and China. Considering WWI fallout, this treaty resulted in the transfer of Shantung/Shandong from Germany to Japan to China. Obviously, Japan felt it important to know as much as possible regarding the US’s negotiation stances, even if it came from sources who were not directly involved. But why Brazil.

Japanese began moving to Brazil since 1908. Oddly enough, Japan experienced famine and overpopulation around the turn of the century, especially in Okinawa. Many Japanese went to United States (Hawaii and California). Just as the United States started restricting Asian immigration, Brazil became open as they clamped down on immigration from African countries and those of “black descent”. To this day, São Paulo still has a large Japanese-Brazilian population.

In 1923, the Naval Attache conducted a detailed investigation into how each station handled codes and ciphers. The questionnaire covered foreign national staff, like cleaning crew, storage of cryptographic material, and decrypted message handling. The investigation identified Rome, London and Tokyo as high risk areas for encrypted Naval Attache message traffic interception and compromise. The final report was presented on September 1923 with instructions to every out station.

Unfortunately, I have no more information regarding this strange tale. Lionel Ryder could have started spying much earlier than 1922. I doubt Iwo Horiguche/Horiguchi was her real name. Furthermore, she could have murdered Lionel and the suicide a cover story by the United States. Does a random newspaper clipping, a single memo, and an investigation into Naval Attache ciphers really lead to an uncovered intelligence coup? May be one day I’ll find out.

Tue, Oct 17, 1922 – 1 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. November, 1922 U.S. Naval Attache (Chile) report on Japanese involvement. https://www.fold3.com/image/297048609 (Note: Requires paid account)
2. July 1922, Annual report on Naval Attache activities: https://www.fold3.com/image/299255116 (Note: Requires paid account)
3. September, 1923 report to OIC of Naval Code and Ciphers: https://www.fold3.com/image/297048609 (Note: Requires paid account)
4. American and British good offices in the negotiation of the Shantung treaty between China and Japan, signed at Washington February 4, 1922: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1922v01/ch42
5. Wikipedia on Japanese-Brazilians: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_Brazilians
6. A Brief History on Shantung/Shandong: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shandong_Peninsula
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Ambassadors_of_Japan_to_Brazil

The NAHL: John “Jack” Gouverneur Hutchinson

In December 1917, the First Naval District acquired John G. Hutchinson from a private life as a farm manager. By the end of the month, Jack joined the First Naval District hockey team and assisted them to their first exhibition win over the Boston-based Arena Hockey Club. As with many other John’s of the era, newsprint often referred to him as “Jack”. Knowing this helped tracked him to the start of his hockey playing in Arlington High School in 1908 and all the way through his Amherst (Massachusetts Agriculture). He played amateur hockey for Boston Athletic Association until at least 1926. When he transitioned to coaching, he earned a new nickname, the “old fox”, which carried him through the 1930s. However, Jack’s era was the era of amateur hockey. As amateur hockey diminished, Jack blended into the background as well.

The “old fox” was born in Arlington, Massachusetts on July 20, 1891. He played high school hockey during his last two years at Arlington High School. When he attended Massachusetts Agricultural College (UMass Amherst), he played from 1911 until 1914. During this period, John also spent time in the military achieving the rank of sergeant prior to enlisting in the Navy. John’s high school and college years prepared him well for the future.

John became a Naval Aviator too late in the war to see action. In a bit of unintentional foreshadowing, his Naval Air Station Bay Shore flight school record states:

A little slow to learn – quiet – Industrious – Has confidence – good attitude – handles men well.

The instructor who noted that John “handles men well” probably did not expect him to become a successful hockey coach.

John did not immediately transition into coaching. He played in the US Amateur Hockey Association with the Boston Athletic Association Unicorns until 1926. After a two year hiatus, he started managing BAA hockey. In 1931, he managed the “university club” team. With nearly ten years of coaching and management experience, the Amateur Athletic Union selected him to lead the 1939 United States’ hockey team. On the cusp of WWII, John took ten players to Switzerland. They walked away with Silver.

Even as a coach, John maintained an Amateur status. He found work primarily as an automotive mechanic. Whether it was an automotive job or an airplane job, John worked at Roosevelt Field Inn in the early 40s. Roosevelt Field was one of the busiest airports in the United States in the 20s and 30s. Roosevelt Field Inn opened in 1930, which was nearly four years after Charles Lindbergh made his famous transatlantic trip. Shortly his WWII draft card listing, he moved on to Cote Motor Company.

After 13 years at Cote and two months of retirement, John Hutchinson passed away at his son’s house on October 4, 1956. In a twist of bureaucratic fate, John lived on in Veteran’s Affairs records. In 1963, a John G. Hutchinson claimed VA benefits from the West Roxbury VA hospital. While it probably was a mix up between him and his son, a probable WWII veteran, these little mysteries of every day heroes can be misleading trails or tantalizing puzzle boxes. Those that survived John include Edith, a son, and two grandchildren. Much like John, they blended into the historical background of every day life.

Sources:
1. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=48798 (Note: Requires paid account)
2. http://scua.library.umass.edu/youmass/doku.php?id=m:morrill_act
3. National Archives, john Hutchinson [Service # 001723610], https://catalog.archives.gov/id/3488255
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1939_Ice_Hockey_World_Championships
5. https://teamusa.usahockey.com/page/show/2669052-1939-iihf-men-s-world-championship
6. https://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/roosevelt-field-through-the-years-1.10862824
7. Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.  (Note: Requires Paid Account)
8. Boston Globe courtesy of newspapers.com

Additional sources:
Morrill Land Grant background: https://www.aplu.org/library/the-land-grant-tradition/file
Amherst under President Meiklejohn (1912-1923) https://www.jstor.org/stable/368850?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
https://bayshore.greaterlongisland.com/2018/01/02/31061-from-history-remembering-bay-shores-wwi-air-base-local-hospitality/

The NAHL: Dr. George Joseph Gaw

For a man who only pitched in six major league baseball games, Dr. George Joseph Gaw remains closely associated with the game. But, baseball was not his only passion. George was a dentist, ship builder, WWI Navy Veteran, coach and a hockeyist. Along the way, he earned the nickname “Chippy” or “Chippie”. And, he married Dorothy Schroeder, a Newton HS basketball star and Chippy’s high school crush. In many ways, George Gaw was just your average New Englander.

George Gaw came into this world on Sunday, March 13, 1892 in Newton, Massachusetts. He played baseball (pitcher) and hockey (forward) for Newton High School. In 1911, Gaw entered minor league baseball with the Lancaster Red Roses. The move to Pennsylvania lasted just one game. Chippy returned to Boston after a couple of days. He bounced back eventually earning on spots the International League, AA ball at the time. Chippy helped the Buffalo Bisons win the pennant in 1915 and 16. In 1917, the Bisons released Chippy in mid-season mainly due to contract conflict. However, the Bisons waited until a badly pitched game before handing him the “blue ticket”. The Providence Grays picked him up.

In the off season, Chippy attended Tufts Dental for a dental degree. By 1914, sports writers labelled him as the “kid dentist”, “tooth twirler” and similar mash ups. By 1916, he opened a small dentistry office in Waltham, Massachusetts. As the war came, he shut down everything and joined the Navy Reserve. With the Navy, Chippie played on Ralph Winsor‘s hockey team and later on the baseball team.

As the war wound down, Chippy returned to the civilian games he never left. In 1920, the Chicago Cubs brought him up for six games before pushing him to Milwaukee Brewers, a AA-team at the time. Through all of this, Chippy focused on finishing his degree, which happened in 1921. Chippy’s baseball career ended on September 9, 1928 in front 15,000 people. Chippy pitched for the losing South Boston against Quincy in Boston’s Twilight League. Chippy coached college baseball, too. In 1920, he coached Boston University. In 1921, it was Harvard’s second team getting expertise. Finally, Chippy settled down at BU starting in 1924 until 1928.

As for hockey, Chippy stopped playing and started coaching. First, he coached Lafayette in Buffalo and Pomfret high schools. In 1920/21, MIT picked Chippy to coach hockey. Although he played for Newton High School (1910) and Tufts, people expected Chippy to coach in the “Winsor style” that he learned in the Navy. From 1921/22 until 1928, Chippy coached Dartmouth (1), Princeton (2), and Boston University (4). In the move to BU, he replaced former teammate John James O’hare as head coach. Across those years, he recorded .581 (50-31-5) win percentage. (NOTE: does not include MIT era.)

After his sports careers wound down, George never really left baseball. He gave hockey one last coaching attempt in 1932. Unfortunately, Chippy was too serious for the Boston Hockey Club. But, Chippy was on the mound for old-timer games like one on July 12, 1939. He engaged in Babe Ruth’s final appearance as player in a July 12, 1943 exhibition game. He commented on Pantsy Donovan’s passing, too.

With the onset of World War II, Chippy registered for the old man’s draft in April, 1942. At the time, George listed Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard as his place of employment. The Navy used this site to build many Destroyer Escorts. Even with this 25 million dollar contract at the shipyard, George filed for bankruptcy in 1943. Tragedy struck again when one of his sons, David, murdered his estranged wife in 1952. George and Dorothy just worked through it all.

In the midst of near retirement, he picked up a fascination for bullfighting. He would trot down to Nogales during spring training. He learned Spanish. Traveled across Spain and Italy in ’59. In mid-December 1960, the basketball star, whom he married in Bermuda, passed away. Focused on spring training and his grand children, George pushed through until David’s parole. In 1968, George followed Dorothy. Despite the baseball championships or the Ivy league hockey wins, Jerry Nason reminded us that to Chippy ¡Olé! equaled his other sports accomplishments.


Tue, May 28, 1968 – 29 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. Chippy Gaw, “The Doctor is in”. Diamonds in the Dusk. Nov 8, 2012.
2. Year: 1916; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2456; Line: 4; Page Number: 82
3. Coach George Gaw. College Hockey News.
4. Hingham Shipyard History. Wikipedia
5. Chippy Gaw’s Obit. Part1, Part2. Jason Nason. Boston Globe. May 28, 1968.
6. Boston Globe

Other Sources:
1. Boston Terriers Men’s Hockey Recordbook, 1917-2016. Boston University.
2. Boston University Baseball Club. Boston University.
3. Boston Terriers Team History. College Hockey News.
4. Hingham Shipyard History. Smith Yacht.
5. List of WWII Navy vessels built at Hingham. ShipBuildingHistory.com

The NAHL: George Pierce Geran

A Dartmouth College kid hailing from Holyoke, Massachusetts glided on to the ice for the U.S. Navy in 1917. Possessing a natural talent for hockey, he danced around players from around the world over the course of his hockey career. Unlike his contemporaries, Jerry, or Gerry, only played hockey in high school. This focus and dedication led him to playing in the NHL, twice, in the Olympics, once, and several other hockey stages.

George Pierce Geran, or Jerry or Gerry for short, possessed a natural talent for hockey which many claimed to rival Hobey Baker‘s skill. Born in 1896, Jerry completed high school in Holyoke. Dartmouth accepted him in 1915, where he captained the freshman hockey team.  After the United States joined the war, Jerry traveled to Montreal and was selected by the Montreal Wanderers, one of the first NHL teams. Raymie Skilton also joined the Wanderers. However, it is not clear if they traveled together or if Raymie arrived later. Regardless, the Montreal Arena burned down cutting short both of their NHL careers. They returned to Massachusetts and joined the Navy Reserve.

While in the Reserves, Jerry played for the US Navy hockey in the US NAHL. Putting him in touch with Ralph Winsor, George Brown and Roy Schooley amongst others. This exposure creates an opportunity for Jerry to play on two USA Olympic ice hockey teams, 1920 and 1924. Some where between Montreal and the Navy, Jerry develops a friendship with Raymie that carries past the war and into the Boston Shoe Trades.

Jerry played on the Boston Shoe Trades for only one season. During that one season, Jerry probably learned the leather business. In 1921, he traveled to Paris on a business trip with Murray Leather Company. He would stay in France for the 1921 and much of the 1922 season. While in Paris, Jerry maintained his hockey skills at the Club des Patineurs de Paris. At the end of 1922, he returned to Massachusetts and the Boston Athletic Association Unicorns. He found a way out of his 1924 Olympic commitment. Then, he preceded to assist the Unicorns to at least one USAHA championship before leaping over to the Boston Bruins for the 1925-26 season.

Across the 30s and 40s, Jerry bounced around as his fancy. Whether it was becoming a professional scout for the New York Rangers. Or, professional development for a new team and rink in Hartford, Connecticut. He even traveled back to France to play in one final seasons during 1932-33. However, his last great push was the creation of the “Association of Professional Hockey Players of America”, the forerunner to today’s NHL Player’s Association (NHLPA). Over the course of Spring ’41, Jerry tried to get players and owners involved in an association to protect and provide for players in retirement. Despite not being the president, Herb Manning, of the Winnipeg Tribune, seemingly derided the effort as a money making scheme for Jerry. Jerry would at least live to see Ted Lindsay and others create the NHLPA in 1967.

In Jerry’s waning days, he’d pen opinions about Brooklyn sirens, honking and baseball in letters to the editor of the Daily News. After 1949, his active public profile waned to almost nothing. Dink Carroll lamented that Jerry’s time in France made him fat and past playing prime. But, Jerry played in the era’s top tier U.S. hockey league, the US Amateur Hockey Association. So, I think Dink’s criticism a bit unfair. Jerry died in Brooklyn at 85 in 1981, and the world did not take note of a man dedicated to his friends and sport.

Sources:
1. George Geran, Player Profile. Society of International Hockey Research. *Note: Paid Account Required.
2. 1920 Antwerp Olympic Winter Games. USA Hockey.
3. Montreal Arena. Wikipedia.
4. Club des Patineurs de Paris. Wikipedia.
5. Manning, Herb. One Man’s Opinion. Winnipeg Tribune. 22 April 1941.
A. The Boston Globe, Boston.
B. The Daily News, New York

The NAHL: John James O’hare Jr., esq.

John James O’hare Jr. maintained a sense of community through active engagement in alumni functions and public service. Born on 6 July, 1897, J.J. O’hare was one of the youngest members on the First Naval District hockey team. Like Raymie Skilton and other teammates, J.J. O’hare played multiple high school sports, including football (quarterback), baseball (1st base), and hockey (defense). During his time at English High School, J.J. earned the nicknames “Brick” (football) and “Red” (hockey), but, it was by “Brick” that he was known.

Brick graduated high school in April, 1917 and joined the Navy Reserves in September, 1917. He answered George Brown’s “call to sticks”. Ralph Winsor selected him for the team. This fortuitous event would lead to the formation of Boston University’s official hockey team.

Student movements tried twice between 1917 and 1922 to create a B.U. hockey team. The 1917-18 team played one game. Unfortunately, the war probably doomed this first attempt. The war absorbed much of the available sports talent. As a result, many colleges and amateur leagues decided against hosting an official team or championship series. East coast based hockey paused for the 1918-20 season. B.U. attempted a 1919-20 team but it only played two games. As a club team, it was likely hindered in securing games.

In 1920, B.U. reorganized its athletic association to include student leadership. Brick became its first vice president. Ever since taking the post, Brick attempted to get B.U. president Daniel Marsh to authorize an official hockey team. When Brick graduated B.U. in 1922, the seemingly ever-present George V. Brown also directed B.U.’s athletic association. With Brown’s backing, B.U. finally got an official hockey team for the 1922-23, and Brick would be its first coach.

Despite playing hockey since high school, Brick was not a good a coach. He got progressively worse over the course of his two years. His first season ended with 2 wins and 6 losses. Brick was known to “play the man”. He recounted the first time he played the MLB Hall of Fame Catcher Mickey Cochrane. He directed Cochrane to knock down George Owen every time [Owens] was on the ice. Several close games against skilled coaches like Ralph Winsor earned him a second season. Unfortunately, Brick finished with 1 win and 8 losses. “Chippie” Gaw replaced Brick for the 1924-25 season. For his effort, B.U. inducted John J. O’hare as an inaugural Hall of Fame member in 1959.

Brick graduated B.U. with a law degree. Bouncing around a few different law firms in the Boston area, Brick found his career in the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority (MBTA) as a trial lawyer. In the public’s eye, his legal activities remained second to alumni support.

Brick played in alumni games and presided over alumni activities well into the 1960s. He participated in the English High School annual football and hockey games until the mid-30s. The Globe noted his alumni activities and charity work for B.U. until the 60s.

Brick remained a local man all his life. He lived in Jamaica Plain. He worked and schooled in Boston. He died in Framingham. A dedicated man with a strong sense of community.

charlestown navy yard hockey teamcharlestown navy yard hockey team Tue, Feb 26, 1918 – 7 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.comSources:
1. Boston University Hall of Fame.
2. Boston Terrier Hockey 1922-23, College Hockey News.
3. Boston Terrier Hockey 1923-24, College Hockey News.
4. J.J. O’hare Obituary. The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts. 21 Nov 1981
5. Mickey Cochrane Obituary. The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, 10 Jan 1962
6. Other Boston Globe papers, courtesy of Newspapers.com.

The NAHL: Raymond “Raymie” Skilton

Raymond “Raymie” Nelson Skilton typifies the fallen athlete hero. A star player from high school whose infamy grew as his fame departed. Perhaps, these simplified story lines belie a more complicated man. Or, maybe, the truth is as simple and direct as the man appeared to be.

Raymie’s illustrious hockey activities started as a Rindge Manual Training School goalie in 1905. He switched to defense in 1907. This position change was not a drastic change unlike the same shift in modern-era hockey. The early goalie was a normal player with no extra padding and strict rules. When the goalie got hurt, another player would simply step into the crease. If his later years reflect his youth, Raymie sought action and created it when missing. The static position of goalie probably clashed with Raymie’s innate personality.

Raymie shone as an early-era hockey “offensive defenseman”. Between the checking and scoring, Raymie led teams to victory. During the 1917-18 USNAHL season, he scored 11 goals in 11 games. During the height of his career, he typically averaged around a goal a game, which places him in contention with other forwards of his era.

Raymie did not limit himself to hockey, though. The Boston Globe named Raymie as Boston’s “Best All-Round Athlete” in 1916. The articled listed football, baseball, swimming, and horseback feats and accomplishments. Raymie played football and baseball in high school. At the time, ice hockey was a minor sport and played in the off-season between football and baseball. Raymie’s skill with horses possibly developed during his time with the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (MVM). Raymie was actively engaged across a spectrum of sports until the early 1920s.

Raymie changed during the war years, but not because of war itself. Raymie seemed to run from war and leaving Massachusetts. Newspapers pondered the fate of local amateur sports if the MVM sallied forth for the Mexican Punitive Expedition. Raymie let his enlistment expire. When the U.S. Navy activated him, Raymie requested deferment due to economic hardship. The public figure of post-war Raymie struck a tarnished and exposed figure compared to pre-war Skilton.

Raymie’s hockey career ran into a brick wall after getting blacklisted by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) in 1921. Raymie recruited three Canadians for the Shoe Trades club of the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association. Later, Irving Small revealed that amateur and Olympic athletes would be paid via cigarette tins. A practice fairly common in the New York amateur hockey scene in the 1900s and 10s. The ban was reversed before the start of the 1922 season, and he resumed playing.

This was only one of the many troubles experienced by Raymie Skilton in the post-war years. Court cases for verbally assaulting police officers, reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter assailed Raymie in the 20s. While the courts acquitted him, more legal troubles awaited him in the 30s.

Having lost his leather import business, he worked for a small company called Telenar Corporation in the 40s and 50s. Despite a seemingly quiet time during the 40s, the lawsuits and legal troubles renewed after he acquired patents related to a new metal production process called cold-flow processing. During the months long and very public legal process, he was even accused of offering the patents to Communists in a Mccarthy-era attack.

For all the commotion, Raymie Skilton passed away without much public notice on July 1, 1961. His passing caught the Boston Globe off-guard. They did not report it until February 1962. Eight months later! However, I don’t think the oversight diminishes his accomplishments as one of the first prominent, America-born Offensive Defensemen.

Sun, Feb 25, 1962 – 59 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

The NAHL: Outline

As stated in the first post of the series, I intend to cover background material on key people involved in the United States’ National Amateur Hockey League (NAHL). For refresher, the NAHL only lasted one season, 1917-18 before morphing into the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association. It included four teams, the First Naval District, the Pittsburgh All-Stars (Yellow Jackets), the New York Wanderers and the Boston Arenas. The champions won a challenge cup, called the Fellowes Cup, who became the U.S. National Amateur Champions. The Fellowes Cup holder won the right to challenge Canada’s top amateur team who held the Art Ross Cup. In 1918, the holders of the cup were the Montreal Hochelaga.

I hope to cover one key character per week. I viewed these people through a tiered lens. The top tier covered key enablers, which included CAPT William Rush, George V. Brown, Roy Schooley and Cornelius Fellowes. These people enabled the formation of the NAHL. CAPT Rush probably hired George Brown to be his athletic director. Roy Schooley was well established in Pittsburgh. Cornelius Fellowes, entrenched in New York sports, sponsored the league’s challenge cup.

The next tier included dedicated coaches, which only covers Ralph Winsor. The rest of the teams had a player-coach or a manager-coach.

The last tier, which will start 29 or 30 June 2019, covers the key players. Players were chosen because of what they did on the ice, in the war or post-war. A few went on to play in one or both of the first two Olympic ice hockey games. Ralph Winsor coached the 1932 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team. All three teams won silver losing only to Canada.

To tease, expect, at a minimum, the following players to be covered in upcoming posts:

Raymie Skilton – USNRF, First Naval District
George “Chippy” Gaw – USNRF, First Naval District
Herb Drury – Pittsburgh All-Stars
Joe McCormick – Pittsburgh All-Stars
Mickey Roach – New York Wanderers
Frank Synott – Boston Arenas

These men lived storied lives. Their league faced many challenges including possible revocation as amateurs. After war over the ice and war on the ice, many faced war itself.

So, I hope you’ll continue reading about the men of wartime American hockey.

The NAHL: Alfred “Ralph” Winsor

With a multitude of accomplishments, The Boston Globe and others bequeathed the mantle of “Father of Modern Hockey” to “Ralph” Winsor Jr.  To summarize, many credit Ralph with the modern hockey stick, skate curve, and effective use of substitution (prior to the on-the-fly line changes of today). In his role as the first American-born college hockey coach, Ralph devised a new tactic specifically to counter Hobey Baker. Ralph shifted the point and cover point to force the forwards to the boards. The tactic was moderately successful in stopping Hobey. To help visualize this shift:

winsorHockey

 

Not only did Ralph modernize hockey, he supported his country in war and hockey.

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