WOLFEBORO turned out to be a great place for Mike and Suzanne Ryan to retire, in a house on a dead-end street with lots of room for the Irish Setter to run. Mike, who passed away last week at 78, was a quiet man who liked the simpler things in life.
Such as glass bottles.
Oh, you didn’t know that the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia was built on a landfill? Well, the Ryans sure did. During his Phillies years, as this huge hole in the ground eventually was becoming a 65,000-seat ballpark, they’d hunt for Philadelphians’ trash — and turned it into their treasure.
“We’d find thousands of old bottles that we’d drag into the back of the station wagon and take back to Newton, N.H.,” remembered Suzanne Ryan on Wednesday. “He’d say just put ’em in the barn and when we get home I’ll look at ’em. He kept the nice ones.”
Mike Ryan, a native of Haverhill, Mass., is best known around New England as a member of the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox. Known as a terrific defensive catcher, he was the starter for much of the year before Boston acquired Elston Howard from the Yankees in early August. He had two at-bats in the World Series that year, going hitless in Game 4 as Cardinals ace Bob Gibson spun a shutout.
He was traded to Philadelphia before the 1968 season and that’s where the Ryans spent just about the rest of Mike’s major league playing career, with Suzanne shuttling home to Newton when the Phils were on a road trip. Mike retired as a player in 1974, then began another chapter of life, teaching the game, for three years as a minor league manager and the next 16 as Philadelphia’s bullpen coach.
Mike Ryan was, as the expression goes, a baseball lifer, one whose game-calling prowess translated well to coaching. Respect for him ran deep in the organization. One example: Former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton thought so much of Ryan that he named his son Zachary Ryan Daulton.
They were wonderful years, said Suzanne.
“When you’re living it, you don’t appreciate it as much as later in life,” she said. “It was something special.”
Mike had “probably five good, solid baseball friends,” said Suzanne. The couple didn’t go out often when he played in Philly, but on the occasions he was asked for an autograph, “he never thought twice about it,” she said. “The next thing you know they were having a conversation.”
The couple moved to Wolfeboro almost by accident, said Suzanne. While living in Newton, they visited Lake Winnipesaukee during the summer, she said, and one day she spotted a listing in a real estate book for an old farmhouse. “Uh-oh,” she recalled saying, knowing what would come next.
“He often said he had no regrets,” said Suzanne, “and that it all turned out the way it was supposed to.”
• That line in the sand keeps moving, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and games that we hoped would be played are now postponed or canceled. You may have seen the Patriot League was the latest Division I conference to cancel fall sports.
Patriot League institutions award limited athletic scholarships. Schools in the Ivy League, which announced its fall sports cancellation last week, give no athletic scholarships. Schools with bigger athletic budgets — ranging from Power Five behemoths to the likes of UNH — have yet to announce that their seasons are canceled, only some individual nonleague games.
CLARIFICATION: According to the Patriot League, beginning with the class entering in fall 2013, the rule allows for each Patriot League football institution to offer up to 15 athletic scholarships and a total of 60 financial aid equivalencies per year. The NCAA limit for FCS schools is 63 total scholarships. In all other Patriot League sports, it is an institutional decision on whether they offer the full NCAA allotment of scholarships or not.
• There will be sunnier days ahead at Dartmouth, surely, because no 48-hour period can be as dark as last Wednesday and Thursday.
In case you missed it, a day after the Ivy League canceled fall sports, the pandemic’s reach was felt again, this time in a different form. Citing budget deficits created by the virus, Dartmouth eliminated five sports and shuttered its campus golf course. The decisions were made with “great care,” according to president Philip J. Hanlon, and came on the heels of announcements by two other prominent universities, Stanford and Brown, that they too were cutting some sports.
And with that went an integral part of campus life. A part of Dartmouth was lost, possibly forever.
What makes the decision doubly difficult is some of the affected programs boast some tradition. Dartmouth’s men’s golf team has finished second in the Ivy League in two of the past four years and has placed either a first- or second-team All-Ivy selection 20 times in the last 10 years. Most notable are Hanover’s own Peter Williamson, a four-time first team selection and three-time league champ, and Nashua’s James Pleat, who wore his Dartmouth cap while carving up the competition last week while winning the State Am.
There will be sadness, and likely some anger, as effects of the eliminations sink in. See UNH baseball, which was cut in 1997.
• Windham’s Connor Hopkins has formed a one-man club. Hopkins, who just graduated from Saint Michael’s College, last week became the first male Purple Knight to be named a College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America. Hopkins was among 92 swimmers to claim a CSCAA honorable mention nod. Hopkins had an incredible career in Colchester, Vt., posting 92 wins over four years. The team captain won the 50-yard freestyle and took runner-up honors in 100 backstroke at the Northeast-10 Conference championships in February.
• Recent Plymouth State University grad Casey Allaire, a diver, last week was named the Little East Conference Woman of the Year. Allaire, of Mattapoisett, Mass., dominated on the board, winning the LEC Rookie Diver of the Year as a freshman and taking LEC Diver honors in each of her final three seasons.
• The UNH women’s basketball team last week announced its three-player incoming class, including Stratham’s Adara Groman, a guard, who was the all-time leading scorer at Berwick (Maine) Academy and then prepped for a year at Worcester Academy. Another recruit is center Paige Cote, who graduated as Sanford (Maine) High School’s all-time leader scorer — and class valedictorian.
• Not related to the colleges, but definitely related to the pandemic: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats will host a movie night on Saturday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. It’s another way the organization, battling through furloughs and reduced salaries in a canceled season, is trying tocut losses and stay involved in the community. The Fisher Cats hosted fireworks two weekends ago. “Toy Story 4” is showing on the big video board. For more information, including proper safety protocols, visit NHFisherCats.com.
• Exeter’s Cody Morissette is settling in quite nicely for the North Shore Navigators of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. Through Tuesday’s games, Morissette leads the league in RBIs (15) and stands fourth in batting average (.361). The Boston College star was scheduled to return to the Cape Cod League this summer before that league canceled.