Many of the names and some of the descriptions in this blog have been changed to protect the guilty.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bullshitting to All Fields, Part 10

The Other Kevin Collins

This isn’t about Kevin Collins of Sixteen Acres, the Bambino of Catalpa Terrace (the former New York Mets, Montreal Expos and Detroit Tigers infielder) but the former NHL linesman who until recently served as an official supervisor for the league. Retiring from the ice in 2005, he spent 28 years in stripes for the NHL, beginning in 1977, and was inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.

Collins played hockey at Springfield Technical High School (Class of ’68) and American International College. He is pictured in the second row, third from the left (number 16) at Tech.

He began his hockey career when fellow AIC teammate Dave Forbes, who later played for the Boston Bruins, gave him a ride to a youth hockey game in Easthampton. The league needed hockey players who were willing to officiate. “He was my fraternity brother, and he needed a ride so he volunteered my services,” laughed Collins. “He said, ‘Collins and I will do it.’”

After graduating from college in 1972, Collins played two seasons with the Johnstown Jets of the old Eastern League. That team was the model for the Charlestown Chiefs of the movie Slapshot. Collins remembers Ned Dowd (who played Ogie Ogilthorpe in the film) bringing a tape recorder to practices, bars, and parties, and then relaying the colorful dialogue to his screenwriter sister Nancy, who wrote the script.

Collins is pictured middle row, second from left, on the 1971-72 Johnstown Jets.

Next, Collins worked Springfield Olympics games (New England Junior Hockey League) in 1974-1975, along with high school and college games, and then he was a regular in the American Hockey League. He went to NHL camp in 1977, negotiated a contract, and the rest was history.

Collins’ jersey hangs in Mulberry Street Pizza in Manchester, CT. (He is the owner’s wife’s cousin.)

I always kind of hated Kevin Collins, even though he was a Springfield boy, because goddamn it he was too quick to break up fights. I wasn’t the only one. It bothered Don Cherry and Marty McSorley, and it also got Kevin in trouble as well: in 1997, former Springfield Indians goon Scott “Chief” Daniels, playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, got his jersey pulled over his head by a Buffalo Sabres player. But he kept swinging blindly and popped Collins twice. You can see it right at the beginning of the brawl:

Here is Collins getting bloodied by the Flyers’ Greg Barube:

But here’s a reason to like Kevin Collins, and not just because he has the distinction of working 10 Stanley Cup finals and the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan: he is one of nine applicants to open a medial marijuana dispensary in Springfield! 

Speaking of Springfield-area athletes, here is Chris Capuano’s Red Sox uniform and bobblehead doll on display at St. Thomas the Apostle School in West Springfield.

Valedictorian of Cathedral’s Class of ’96, Capuano went on to pitch for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, L.A. Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, and the New York Yankees. In 2005 he led the major leagues in pickoffs with 12, and was named to the All-Star team in 2006.

As a high school senior, Capuano stood proudly on the mound at Fenway Park—as part of a Massachusetts All-Star team playing against a squad from Connecticut. His boyhood dream: playing for the Red Sox. Then, in 2014, the Sox signed him to a one-year contract. “When I was out in the backyard playing Wiffleball with my friends, we’d always imagine ourselves on the mound at Fenway, so it’s kind of cool to come back and maybe have a chance to be there,” he said at spring training that year.

He began the season with 15 consecutive scoreless innings, but he was released on July 1. He played with the Yankees last season and the injury-plagued (two Tommy John surgeries) 37-year-old may have one or two years left in him—we’ll see.

The Springfield Kings win the Calder Cup in 1971.

Looks good on YOU, though. Elvis arrives back at his hotel after his show at the Springfield Civic Center on July 14, 1975.

Muhammad Ali at Zack’s Barber Shop on the corner of Bay and Catharine Streets. The year is unknown.

Double-decker bus tour anyone?

Red’s grand opening with its iconic clock on Riverdale in West Springfield (year unknown). Here it is today:

From the Facebook Group Springfield, 413 Then and Now—photos of the front of the Arcade Theater, which closed in 1971 and demolished in 1972. Read more about the demolition of the Arcade block and the buildings on the west side of Maple Street in Bullshitting to All Fields, Part 3

The Capitol Theatre:

After the Capitol block was demolished in 1972, there was the infamous “City Hole” on the left. Forbes and Wallace is on the right:

Read more about the fate of the Capitol block in Shitting to All Fields, Part 11

Where was the Art Theater? It was located at 1670 Main Street, several doors south of the Paramount, opening in 1909 as Nelson’s Theater during the heyday of vaudeville. It became the Fox Theater in 1919 and then the Art in 1934.  In the late 1950s, this second-run Warner Brothers theater had a seedy reputation and it was buyer beware for anyone who wanted to save 50 cents and take his date to this dump. It was gone by 1956 and razed in 1961.

The Colosseum Banquet House on at 943 Memorial Ave. in West Springfield. These crappy pictures were the only ones I could find of the inside of the venue. It looked like a pretty elegant place:

It became Fathers and Sons auto dealership and lost its cool ancient amphitheater design when it was remodeled.

Nora’s Variety in Pine Point: what it looked like in the late 1930s and how it appears today:

Blogger Tom Devine’s friend Paul Walker leaving Nora’s in 1984. 

It seemed like Nora’s was always the first store in the city to sell baseball cards every spring, so it was worth the trip. It closed in the early 2000s and opened as another variety store, but it has been vacant for the past year.

On the subject of Pine Point, I had noticed on this photo from the late 1930s that the old Charm Cafe sold Croft Ale. What the hell is that?

Turns out that it was semi-local, made at the Highland Spring brewery in Jamaica Plain. Below is the old brewery.

And here is the refrigeration building:

Read more about the Charm Café here

Highland closed in 1919 and the building was used as a warehouse, but Croft company reopened it after Prohibition, making its ale from 1934 to 1953. I don’t know what it tasted like, but I love these friggin’ coasters!

I know it’s a little early to be thinking about St. Patrick’s Day, but:

One last image. Forget Deflategate. Forget Benghazi. Here’s the real scandal:


capecat said...

This reminds me. . . another blog post for the VIP Lounge on Boston Road. I used to hit tennis balls against the back wall. I peeked in the back door when I was 14 and, otherwise, I have no idea what went on in there. . .Ptretty much open during the 70s.

Hell's Acres said...

Hey capecat,

I went there a few times. Nothing special. I believe a couple of my friends went there on "teen disco" nights a few times lol.

spfldhistorybuff said...

Just getting "into" your blog. Very well done with lots of follow-up info on your part, which is much appreciated. Grew up in East Spfld in the '50's and '60's but have lived in the Acres since '73. Love learning info about what's all around me here in the Acres. Couple of questions for you though, where is the bridge that spans the South Branch to cross into the cemetery? Also, do you know the old, very old I believe, nickname for the Wilbraham Rd. area, just before it becomes Spfld St?

Hell's Acres said...

Hey historybuff,

The bridge, made by locals, is behind the huge dirt mounds if you go beyond the cemetery toward the Tamarack Bog. You can see it from a satellite view on googlemaps.

What is the nickname for the Wilbraham Road area just before it becomes Springfield Street? I give up.

spfldhistorybuff said...

I came across this little tidbit a few months ago while looking up info for my Spfld Timeline.
At one time, and I assume a long time ago, it was called "World's End". Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Collins used to ref my youth games at Cyr arena in the early 70s...nice shot of Nora's...I was a kid from the point.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, grew up in the 60"s in the Forest Park area around Buckey's Corner. You bring back a lot of memories in a well-documented and well-written blog. Keep up the great work, i would nominate you as the official Springfield historian for that period of time. Also, there were a couple of guys from my area(Forest Park) that were very active and were members with the what we called the "16 acres gang" in 1966-68. It wasn't just guys from 16 acres.