The NAHL: Wendell Gage Reycroft

People identified Wendell Gage Reycroft as a well-liked, well-rounded, solid performer who transformed an industry.

Born May 1894, Wendell attended Arlington High School as a class of 1913. He played a strong game of hockey along with team mates Jack Hutchinson and Forrest Osgood. Arlington H.S. faced Melrose H.S. for the 1912/13 Interscholastic League Championship. Each school’s record was 11-0-1, with the tie game being with each other. Arlington scored more goals 55-10 over Melrose 48-11. However, people considered the teams to be generally even matched. For the game, Wendell, right wing, opposed Percy Wanamaker, left wing. The ref called the game after 65 minutes with double overtime. At the end, the game tied 2-2 resulted in a playoff that would be played on March 19, 1913. To front page news, Arlington won the game 2-0 and cinched the 1912/13 championship. Franklin Collier illustrated Wendell’s winning goal for the Boston Globe.

In high school, Wendell did not make the interscholastic team. He simply played the game well. This carried over to his Dartmouth days.

Wendell played hockey on Dartmouth’s team from 1913/14 until 1916/17. While at college, he continued to play alongside many notable hockeyists like George Geran and Robert Paisely. Finally, his hard work earned him a spot on an All-Collegian team in 1916.  Unlike his contemporaries, Wendell elected to not play on any of the local amateur teams. His brother, Louis, took the competitive sports mantle.

In April 1917, he joined the Navy Reserve in Rhode Island. The Navy activated him and sent him overseas as an aviator. After coming back, he joined Bassick, a caster and floor truck manufacturer, in 1920. By 1933, he rose to a vice president position. Additionally, he co-founded the Caster and Floor Truck Manufacturers Association, which is now known as the Institute of Caster and Wheel Manufacturers (ICWM). He also became a president of the organization. Through the organization, he helped create industry standards for casters and wheels.

In 1920, Wendell married his high school sweetheart, Eleanor Russell. They both enjoyed golf. However, Eleanor excelled at it. She became state champion for Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Bridgeport Country Club elected her president at least once. Golf started for Eleanor at age 10 and didn’t stop until 98. Besides golfing, she supported many charities including Girl Scouts, Visiting Nurses and American Red Cross. Gloria Negri excelled in summarizing Eleanor’s life for Boston Globe’s obituary.

Wendell retired in 1959 and passed away 1978. Eleanor died at 109 in 2004. By all accounts, Wendell and Eleanor were very affable people, intelligent and persistent.

Sources:
#. Institute for Casters and Wheel Manufacturers.
#. Directory of Industry Advisory Committees. United States War Production Board. January 1943. Government Printing Office.
#. Dartmouth College Class of 1917 reunion – 1953.  (Second Row, sixth person from the left.)
#. Wendell Reycroft Retirement. Bridgeport Post. 1958.
#. Eleanor Russell Reycroft Obituary. Boston Globe. 2004.
#. Military, Compiled Service Records. World War I. Wendell Gage Reycroft, ENS. National Archives, St. Louis.
#. Wendell Gage Reycroft, player profile. Society for International Hockey Research. (Note: Requires paid account.)
#. Boston Globe, Bridgeport Post, Montreal Gazette and other newspapers courtesy of newspapers.com

The NAHL: Percy Weston Wanamaker

Percy Weston Wanamaker played until he was exhausted. I can imagine him giving the quote “[War/hockey] is a young man’s game.” Percy’s achievements in high school hockey and beyond stand. In high school, he played two sports, hockey and football. After high school, he regularly played on two different hockey teams. When war came, he volunteered when others delayed. Always an active man, he needed age to gain the patience to complete college. When he transitioned to the work force, he walked away from the public to support his family.

Like many of his contemporaries, Percy Wanamaker played two sports at Melrose high school, hockey and football. Percy excelled in hockey. As a sophomore, he earned a spot on the first of the 1913/14 All Interscholastic Hockey Team. On the team, he played with Frank Downing, Robert Paisley and others. Percy captained the Melrose team in 1914/15. The Globe reported an impressive seven goals in a 26 – 0 blowout against Winchester H.S. in a 9 January, 1915 game. Before heading to college, Percy enrolled at the Andover Academy, a preparatory school. While playing hockey for Andover, he also played for the Boston Arenas.

In 1917, Percy volunteered with the American Ambulance Field Service for a 6-month duty in France. Assigned to Section Sanitaire (Etats-) Unis (S.S.U.) 27, Percy drove ambulances in Champagne sector during the Second Battle of the Aisne. When the U.S. Army assumed control of the ambulance field service, they refused to accept Percy. As a result, Percy returned to Boston in October. He stayed States-side long enough to play with the Boston Arenas for the 1917/18 USNAHL season. He found another ride over to France with the Battery C, 54th Coast Artillery Corps.

After getting back, Percy decided to finish his college degree and get back to playing hockey. First, he enrolled at Dartmouth for the 1919/20 academic year. In January 1920, the Dartmouth team elected Percy to captain. In 1920/21, Percy transferred to University of Pennsylvania.

While in Philadelphia, Percy played two seasons in the USAHA with the Quaker City team. For the 1921/22 season, Tom Howard coached Percy and Tom Jr. played defense. Percy’s playing style apparently clashed with Tom’s coaching. In January 1922, Percy left the team. Although not clear, Percy returned in February. Despite the news criers’ proclamation, Quaker City’s team work, or lack thereof, prevented them from having a chance for the Fellowes Challenge Cup. The team folded at the end of the 1921/22 season. Tom continued working as the hockey director for Brooklyn Public Schools. Tom Jr. left for California. Percy completed his degree in 1923. He hung up his skates and never looked back.

Some where in the middle of this, Percy married Florence. By 1930, they moved to Connecticut. They had three children, Burnice (1924), Harold (1926), and Thomas (1931). Out of all the children, Thomas received his father’s fire. In 1953, Thomas was in Japan with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. The 187th RCT experienced punishment during 1951 and 1952. In Thomas might have seen action in the final days during the Battle of Kumsong. On his way to war, Thomas married Fae. When he returned, they moved to Seattle.

After Percy completed his degree in 1923, he worked for New York Telephone company. He worked there until he died on 1 October, 1954. Florence moved out to Seattle with Thomas, whose wife and child died in car accident in 1960. Florence passed on in 1980. As of this post (2019), Thomas is still alive. Quite possibly with that Wanamaker passion cooled, but not forgotten. Hopefully, he’s looking forward to the return of professional hockey to Seattle. As for Percy, war and hockey were a young man’s game. When he got his fill, he moved on.

Sources:
1. Percy Wanamaker, SIHR player profile, https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=134095 (Note: Requires a paid account)
2. History of the American Field Service in France. https://cudl.colorado.edu/MediaManager/srvr?mediafile=MISC/UCBOULDERCB1-58-NA/1511/i73728925.pdf#. Spokane Chronicle, Sept 1, 1960, p. 6. Courtesy of newspapers.com
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_the_Aisne
4. Dartmouth 1919/20 hockey stats. College Hockey News. https://www.collegehockeynews.com/schedules/team/Dartmouth/19/19191920
5. University of Pennsylvania Stats. College Hockey News. https://www.collegehockeynews.com/reports/teamHistory/Pennsylvania/417
6. https://icehockey.fandom.com/wiki/1920-21_USAHA_Season
7. https://icehockey.fandom.com/wiki/1921-22_USAHA_Season
8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/187th_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)#Korean_War
9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kumsong
10. The Boston Globe, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and others courtesy of newspapers.com

Additional Sources:
1. American Field Service: https://afs.org/archives/world-war-i-diaries/

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