Joseph “Joe” Michael Shaughnessy, with a largely undeveloped talent for hockey, blended into Boston’s large Shaughnessy community. Joe lived and died near his birthplace in Revere, Massachusetts. He most likely attended Boston College High School. During his Junior year (1913/14), he was selected for the hockey team. For the Boston Globe, Boston College High hockey was in a second-tier league. As a result, they did not receive much coverage. Joe’s skill development lacked a significant public record. Furthermore, he probably dropped out before his Senior year (1914/15).
Shaughnessy apprenticed as a mailer with the International Typographical Union (I.T.U.). He worked at the Boston Post. For the 1916/17, Shaughnessy played on the Boston Arena Hockey Club. With the Arenas, he helped them to a second-place finish having lost to the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) in the final playoff game. In December 1917, he tried out for the Arenas, again. World War I intervened. Then, he found himself on the First Naval District team.
After the war, Joe returned to the mailrooms of the Post and then the Globe. He left hockey’s limelight. Although seen with the 1922/23 B.A.A. team, they probably kept him as a substitute. His real sports passion was baseball. He played short-stop for several seasons on the Boston Typos. The Boston Typos played in the Union Printers’ Baseball League, the longest running amateur league in the United States. In 1921, they won the championship. Beyond these few events, Shaughnessy largely kept out of the public attention.
Despite a stale public life, his private life roared to life. He married Marie Sullivan prior to the war. As the Roaring-20s kicked off, Shaughnessy’s family also grew. Joseph Arthur and Marie were born. Later, they were followed by Rita and William. All seemed well until Arthur died in 1946. Still, this Shaughnessy clan can claim a mantle of honor.
Discovering Joe Shaughnessy was more about discovering who he wasn’t. Even with the help of US Census data, it was challenging to unravel Joe from John, Ed, Frank, an insurance broker and the others. Obituaries seemed to blend Joe with Frank, who coached hockey in the 1920s. Publicly available family trees listed his last name as O’Shaughnessy. Differentiating them became a matter of one fact, Joe was born, raised, lived, and died in Revere, Massachusetts. Joe also remained true to his family and profession, a mailer. In his obituary, The Boston Globe noted Joe’s 37 years of service. In reality, Joe was probably closer to 45 years with I.T.U. Boston Mailers’ Local 16. When Marie died in 1976, they counted three children, nine grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. I like to think that Joe probably never made himself out to be more than what he was.
Michael “Mickey” Richard Roach cultivated his natural hockey talent resulting in the most successful professional hockey career out of all the USNAHL players. Roach played for 21 seasons. Following that, he coached nearly 6 seasons of professional hockey and another 11 seasons of coaching Senior Amateur hockey. Roach’s coaching career focused on cultivating the talent in others rather than himself.
Born on 1 May 1895, Mickey Roach, a second-generation Nova Scotian, left the Maritimes for Boston in time to start high school. He attended Boston English High School with tailored curriculum towards the trades. Even as early as the 1912/13 season, he played on two teams, English H.S. and the Boston Arena intramural Skate Boys. Listed as Roche, the Boston Globe named him to their All Interscholastic second team for hockey. For the 1913/14 season, Roach moved on from the Skate Boys to the Pilgrim Athletic Association team while still playing for English H.S. Once again, the Boson Globe named Roach, as “Roache”, to its Interscholastic team. But, placed him in the first team along with Frank Downing, Robert Paisley, and Percy Wanamaker. Roach’s skill and determination to develop that skill were evident.
After graduating, Roach played on the Boston Arenas for two seasons, but was driven for more. Much like the English and Huntington school teams, the Boston Arenas were limited to local play. The Boston Athletic Association team played in the developing intercity amateur hockey league. Despite his preeminence in Boston hockey circles, he moved to New York City in time for the 1916/17 season.
For the next two years, Roach played in the greater New York City league. First, he played with the Crescent during the 1916/17 season. In a four-team intercity league, the Crescents lost in the final match to the Boston Arenas. In 1917, World War I finally caught up to the United States. Amateur hockey greatly changed resulting in the creation of the U.S. National Amateur Hockey League (USNAHL). Roach, a clerk for the BonBright investment bank, played on Cornelius Fellowes’ New York Wanderers. In November 1918, the war also finally caught with Roach. He became a Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) cadet and traveled back to Toronto to start training.
Always looking for hockey, Roach picked up the uniform and picked up the stick. On 14 December 1918, the R.A.F. played one exhibition game against the Dentals in Ontario Hockey Association’s (O.H.A.) Senior A division. The R.A.F. bowed out of the season. Roach and Thomas “Flash” McCarthy, who joined him from New York, joined the Hamilton Tigers for the remainder of the season. This move started Roach’s NHL playing career.
Starting with the St. Pats in 1920, he played seven seasons in the newly formed NHL. He moved from the Toronto St. Pats to the Hamilton Tigers, who elevated from the amateur ranks. For the 1924/25, Roach moved with the Tigers. Bill Dwyer renamed the Tigers to the New York Americans, referred as the Amerks, and moved them to New York City. As a result, the Amerks and Roach were the first hockey team to play in Tex Rickard’s Madison Square Garden in December 1925. While Roach finished his NHL career in New York City, he continued to play on for three more seasons in the minor leagues.
While playing with the St. Pats, Roach married Elsie Alida Tobey, an Ontario native, in March 1920. Even though Roach played in Ontario, he established his family back in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In April 1921, his first son, Clifford Roach, was born there. However, not all of his four children could claim a Nova Scotia start. On 8 November 1922, their second son, Warren, originated in Boston. Finally, Ontario was home to his two daughters, Elsie and Eleanor. Despite the numerous locales for key life events, they called Nova Scotia home.
Roach’s last season as player was the 1929/30 season with the Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons participated in the International Hockey League after the dissolution of the Canadian Professional Hockey League. In 1930, Roach accepted a manager/coach position with the Buffalo Bisons. In this new role, he started developing players for the NHL. From 1930 until 1936, Roach coached the Bisons, Syracuse Stars and, very briefly, the Rochester Cardinals. Roach left as a consistent contender, but never a winner, among team financial troubles and politics.
Retiring from professional coaching, he refused to let hockey go. Initially, he attempted to organize a Senior A team for O.H.A. Eventually, he received an appointment to coach the Niagara Falls Brights in Dec 1938. In Feb 1939, he resigned this position and moved back to Nova Scotia.
The Cape Breton league challenged for the Allan Cup, which was familiar ground for Roach. For the 1939/40 season, he sought to win with the North Sydney Victorias. At the time, Maritime Senior A hockey teams desired to claim the Allan Cup from the Halifax Wolverines. In 1941/42, he coached the Sydney Millionaires on a strong Cup challenge but fell short.
As war crept back in Roach’s life, he switched to coaching the Navy teams in the Cape Breton League. At the time, Cliff was playing his top game. Meanwhile, Warren joined the US Navy. By September 1953, Mickey Roach retired from hockey and settled into his Customs job. Although a few of his teams made strong challenges, he never coached an Allan Cup winning team.
With the exception of the 1918/19 Hamilton Tigers, Mickey Roach finished second more times than not. Whether as a player or coach, most teams were strong contenders with his participation. In recognition of his playing skills, the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame honored him in their initial inductions. In addition to the playing and coaching careers, he raised two sons in the hockey tradition. Cliff played briefly for the Providence Reds in the AHL. As for his daughters, Elsie Corinne died shortly after birth and Eleanor probably lived a quiet life. In 1977, Mickey Roach’s passage received more attention in the States than in Canada. It is assumed his wife, Elsie, passed away some time after. When compared to Herb Drury, Frenchy LaCroix and other USNAHL players, Mickey Roach was the most successful hockeyist.
NOTE: Misspellings of his last name, especially in the Boston Globe, are Roache, Roark, and Roche. Elsie’s middle name also changes greatly from Alida, Ileeda, and Illita in government records.
The skilled, charismatic high school forward pursued battles of healing after the war. Born on June 22, 1891, Forrest Clifford Osgood made a name for himself as an elite forward for Arlington High School. After graduating in 1911, he played on the Intercolonials and the Unicorns. After the war, he stayed in the South, and noted in prominent social circles. By 1930, he had established himself as a Christian Science Practitioner in Atlanta. He married Atlantan socialite Lillian Dalton Owens (White) in the mid-30s. During the 30s and 40s, Forrest officiated many funerals as a Christian Science reader or practitioner. The Osgoods moved to Florida in the late-40s, where Forrest passed away in 1949 and Lillie in 1979. Along this path, Forrest interacted with many fascinating people, and even left his own mark on history.
The noted Arlington High School forward played for three seasons from 08/09 – 10/11. During that time, his teammates included Wendell Reycroft and Jack Hutchinson. According to the Globe, the team unanimously elected him to be the captain for the 1910/11 season. The Globe article highlighted his popularity and creativity. They credited him with creating several popular rally chants. Unfortunately, the 1910/11 Arlington team lost the championship to Melrose. At the end of the season, the Massachusetts’ Freemasons of Hiram Lodge hosted a “Ladies Night” with Forrest and his older sister attending.
Forrest’s hockey days did not end with high school. He played a season on the Intercolonials alongside Raymie Skilton and next season on the Boston Athletic Association’s Unicorns with Ralph Winsor. Also during this time, he coached, probably instructed is better, the Arlington High School team for a few seasons including the epic 1912/13 championship run. Forrest remained with the Unicorns until he joined the Navy.
As the war wound down, Forrest remained in Pensacola where the Navy sent him for flight school. In December 1918, he initiated with the Hiram Lodge of the Massachusetts Freemasons. He achieved full membership in February 1919. Although his membership card listed Arlington as his residence, he spent considerable time in Florida. Newspapers note his attendance to several social functions in Florida between 1920 and 1925. While he continued to travel, he eventually settled in Atlanta, Georgia by 1930.
By 1930, he also joined the Church of Christ, Scientist, and became a public practitioner. Around this same time, he met Lillian Owens (White), who was also involved in Christian Science. Lillie’s father was a key figure in growing the Atlanta Constitution, a newspaper. She also engaged in several social functions including leading committees in the Brenau College Club. They’d marry in 1935. After 1935, A few times, he offered opening remarks for guest speakers from the Boston head church. His congregation elected to be a reader at least once. And, he regularly rendered final rites.
As for children, Forrest does not appear to have fathered any. Lillie’s two boys were in their early twenties when Forrest and Lillie married. Forrest and Lillie retired to New Smyrna Beach, Florida in 1946. Just two years later, Forrest would die in 1949 after an illness. Lillie passed on in 1979. While these facts are known, questions will remain about the charismatic, Bostonian hockey youth who surrounded himself with Southern social elites.
1. Forrest C. Osgood player profile. Society for International Hockey Research. (Note: Requires paid account.)
2. Hiram Lodge, Massachusetts.
3. Forrest Clifford Osgood. Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Masons Membership Cards 1733–1990. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. (Courtesy of Ancestry.com)
4. Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlanta, Fulton, Georgia; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0096; FHL microfilm: 2340097 (courtesy of Ancestry.com)
5. Year: 1940; Census Place: Buckhead, Fulton, Georgia; Roll: m-t0627-00675; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 60-23A (Courtesy of Ancestry.com)
6. Christian Science Practitioner. Wikipedia.
7. Boston Globe, Atlanta Constitution, Orlando Evening Star and other newspapers courtesy of newspapers.com
Frank Patrick Downing allowed his dedication and skill to speak. A midwest transplant from Milwaukee, the Downings moved to Somerville in the early 1900s. Attending Somerville High School, Frank gained attention for hockey. After high school, he worked for the National Biscuit Company, a.k.a. NABISCO. Throughout the ‘teens and early twenties, he won championships in the American amateur hockey leagues. In 1922, he quietly hung up his amateur hockey skates. His accomplishments standing on their own.
Despite moving at an early age. Frank Downing appears to have retained nany character traits typically associated with the midwest. Born in June 1894, he found himself in Somerville High School’s class of 1915. Whether through hard work, talent or both, Frank excelled in sports, specifically hockey. Due to his skill and attaining captain, the Boston Globe placed him on their 1913/14 Interscholastic All-star team along with Percy Wanamaker.
While still playing high school hockey, Frank rose to senior amateur hockey. For the 1914/15 season, he played with the Boston Arenas. At the time, the Arenas team included Frank Synnott, Mickey Roach, Farrell Conley, and others. He even played at least one game with Raymie Skilton. Afer graduating, he switched to the B.A.A. Unicorns.
In 1917, he submitted his draft card. He listed assistant foreman at National Biscuit for his occupation. He placed his employment location on 128 Franklin St., which is the former Kennedy Biscuit Co. Before the Army called, Frank joined the Navy Reserve Force.
After the war, Frank returned to NABISCO and amateur hockey. First, he started with BAA. In 1922, he drove the Westminster to a USAHA championship. He almost led the team to an international win against Pere Marquette. Pere Maquette promised a unique challenge cup for the series. Yet, the cup was never presented. Depending upon the amateur rules, the Marquette won 2 games to 1 (Canadian newspapers) or it was a tie with 3 goals apiece (Boston Globe). Either way, Pere Marquette never had to show the promised cup. At 28, Frank hung up his skates with a Fellowes challenge cup for his final hockey prize.
In October 1924, Frank married Dorothy Ann Deacon. They had two children, Francis and John. By 1942, the Downings moved to Philadephia. Frank continued working for NABISCO. At 48, Frank provided nearly thrity years of service to NABISCO. He still had a long life yet ahead.
At 88, Frank passed away in Philadelphia. Dorothy passed away five years later in 1987. Many details about Frank are not publicly known. What is known are the comparisons to some of the greatest hockey players of his era, his championships, and his dedication to his family, country and craft.
1. Kennedy Biscuit Co. Cambridge Historical Commission. Jan 16, 2019
2. History of Candy Making in Cambridge. Natalie Moravek. Cambridge Historical Society. 2011
3. United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm. (Courtesy of ancestry.com)
4. World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication: M1951. NAI: 563728. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A. (Courtesy of ancestry.com)
5. Frank Downing player profile. SIHR. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=134087 (NOTE: Requires a paid account.)
6. Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Ottawa Citizen and others courtesy of newspapers.com
The NAHL (1917/18) consisted of forty-four core players, four teams, three promoters and one head coach. The smallest team with the fewest player substitutions was the Pittsburgh Athletic Association with eight core people and a few substitutes. The First Naval District team had thirteen players with significant contribution. However, the New York Wanderers topped at fourteen players making contributions to the 1917/18 NAHL seasons. It is not my intention to document all forty-four players.
I would like to provide a sense of completion. Please note that research is still being conducted to identify players. The promoters include George V. Brown, Roy D. Schooley and Cornelius Fellowes. Ralph Winsor was the only dedicated coach, and he was Navy. In this list are at least three dentists, at least four Navy WWI pilots, one WWI Marine Corps pilots, two Canadian Royal Navy WWI veterans, four US Army WWI veterans, and twelve US Navy WWI veterans. For the season that almost wasn’t, it laid a foundation for a half of decade of U.S. hockey.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.