Hudson Fields is a back-home beacon, everyone’s backyard

Penn Relays, Boston Marathon, NFL Draft are all carnivals
May 2, 2023

Hudson Fields - A surreal and magical place; it’s the back-home beacon when heading south on Route 1. It’s a field of dreams dotted with children carrying sticks and playing lacrosse. Also lurking are the ghosts of punkin chunkers past, colorful characters like Trey Melson, Captain Speed, Larry McLaughlin, Donnie Jefferson and Big Bill Thompson. There is always a certain casualness and friendliness at Hudson Fields, like walking into your own backyard. On Saturday I was out there to watch a grandson followed by a granddaughter each play in a lacrosse game for Atlantic against teams from Fruitland, Md. Chairs crowded the sidelines opposite the team benches. The games start and it gets “good loud,” and it becomes apparent to me that most young families are new to the sport of lacrosse, yet they already know the rules and clichés to yell. I bring my camera and take a thousand photos not to complement a story, just to capture a shared family moment, because it never gets any better than watching your kids playing a game while we all get to live at the beach.  

Orioles are fun to watch - I started watching Orioles games late last season because they have a talented, young team that plays with enthusiasm and doesn’t brood or sink into collective angst along the dugout bench. The O’s are off to a 19-9 start and have won six consecutive series. Being a Phillies fan is like owning a calico cat that bites, but you just keep feeding it and petting it. Checkers, the calico of my childhood, wore me out as Phillies games in 1955 broadcast by Gene Kelly and Byrum Saam played on the AM radio with great names like Robin Roberts, Smoky Burgess, Stan Lopata, Granny Hamner, Willie ”Puddin Head” Jones, Richie Ashburn, Jim Greengrass, Peanuts Lowrey and Manager Mayo Smith. 

Can’t trust this! “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” It’s a sports sacrilege to lay down anything short of absolute positive hype when writing about the Penn Relays or Boston Marathon. I question the attendance numbers that get posted for Penn as Franklin Field always looks half empty to me; mostly no one sits on the upper level, and the side opposite the common finish line has lots of empty seats. And if 50,000 people are inside Franklin Field on a Saturday afternoon, my first question is where did everyone park, or is the SEPTA service just that good? The Boston Marathon is a happening that has been romanticized over many years and a great race if you want to see how fast you can tiptoe 26.2 miles.   

Breaking records - I coached the Cape track team in 1983. That  spring at the Dover Relays, a 4-by-800-meter team (old two-mile relay) of James “Bip” Johnson, Hank Stack, Darren “IGA” Purcell and Danny Harmon set a school record running 7:59. Amazingly, 41 years later, the record still stands and James is a grandfather who works on roofs. Tim Bamforth, who was a distance runner on that team, told me he thinks the 2023 quartet of Liam O’ Donnell, Ryan Baker, Ben Clifton and Trey Leggins may go after that record at the Henlopen Conference meet May 11-12 at Lake Forest. Cape led off the evening at the 1983 Dover Relays by setting a state record in the 4-by-1-mile with the team of Tim Bamforth (4:36), Mark Wagner (4:47), Hank Stack (4:32) and Danny Harmon (4:27) for a total team time of 18:29. 

Daffy drafting - There is something offensive about the three days of the NFL Draft beyond the throng of carnival characters who show up in person, and if they ain’t drinking, then there is no explanation. The draft is about buying people to work on the football fields across America, and the money may be outrageous, but make no mistake, your soul has been purchased. I’d love to interview these guys when they're 40 just to ask them how fame and big money influenced their sense of self-worth. You won't find Mel Kiper talking about that.  

Snippets - The Severna Park girls’ lacrosse team beat Broadneck 8-7 April 27. Cape previously defeated Broadneck 12-11, but lost to Severna Park 10-8. Beacon girls’ lacrosse will host Sts. Peter and Paul at 4 p.m., Tuesday, May 2. The Saints beat the Vikings last year 13-7. Sussex Academy girls’ lacrosse will host Tatnall School at 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 3. Paul Montini, 55, a local runner straight out of Philly and Father Judge High School (Crusaders), ran the Broad Street Run (10 miles) in 1:03:58, earning the nickname Crusader Rabbit. Go on now, git! 

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