You could look it up

By ALAN LUPO  |  October 9, 2008

If I were to go strictly local and pick an all-star Boston pro football team, I’d have to abandon the Native American nomenclature and go with implied Brahminism. No question but that Vernon Hagenbuckle, of the 1926 Boston Bulldogs, would be one of my ends. There was, by the way, no 1927 Boston Bulldogs team, but pro teams came and went with great rapidity in those days, and one should blame neither Boston nor Mr. Hagenbuckle.

Pro football reappeared in Boston in 1929 with the Boston Braves, who, by finishing fifth in a 12-team league, did better than the traditional baseball Braves, who finished last that year in an eight-team league. Sure enough, in addition to one Druehl, one Kenneally, one Koplow, one Kozlowsky, one Pierotti, and one Surabian (was this a team or a bunch of Boston ward captains?), there was a Thurston Towle and a Shirley Wentworth. No wonder they finished with a respectable record of four wins and four losses. It’s a shame that such a magnificent roster of names disappeared for the next two years.

When the Braves reappeared in 1932, they were owned by George Preston Marshall, who changed their name the next year to the Redskins and subsequently moved them to Washington. Had Boston fans sufficiently supported pro football in those depressing years, we could have had John Riggins all to ourselves. Instead, we got Marger Aspit and Marne Intrieri. No Boston sports fan will be surprised to learn that in 1937, the very year that the Redskins left Boston for Washington, they won the title game. Some rookie quarterback named Sammy Baugh helped them, but I don’t pay much attention to a bland name like that.

We ended up with the Boston Shamrocks, the Boston Bears, the Boston Yanks, and the Boston Patriots, and we shall soon host the Boston Breakers. Of course, we don’t produce that many championship teams, not with names like that. Why not a name symbolic of the city and assured of all-star success? The Boston Bigots. Or the Boston Bagmen. Or something to titillate the senses and, at the same time, retain local culture—the Boston Bra-Men.

Now as long as we are in town, let us turn to the recent selection of all-star Red Sox, billed as the greatest Red Sox team evah. Evah. I like Dwight Evans. I hope he plays for the Sox for the rest of his career. In fact, I feel a special affinity for Evans. Because the only seats I can afford are in the distant right-field stands, Evans is the only modern Red Sox ballplayer I have ever seen up close. But I do not think I’m insulting Evans if I suggest that Tris Speaker may have been a better choice. Yet that’s what happens when you use traditional methods to select such teams. You’re bound to create arguments, which, if tradition holds, will begin in the office, continue heatedly at a saloon, and end up in the gutter. More street violence has been caused by all-star selections than by any one insult to one’s virility or religion.

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