Nashua day at NHIAA event
It was a Hall of Fame bus ride.
The vehicle left Nashua around 11 a.m. Sunday, headed for Concord. On it was a Who’s Who of Nashua sports, mostly past, a little present.
In fact, Sunday was a Greater Nashua kind of day. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association inducted eight into its Hall of Fame, including longtime broadcaster Ed Lecius, longtime official and local pastor Rev. Dr. Robert “Odie” Odierna, as well as former Milford High School multi-sport standout Leslie Laychak-Rendall.
And Birdie. The late George “Birdie” Tebbetts, former Nashua High School standout, former Providence College All-American, former Major League Baseball player and former MLB scout.
Kind of worth a bus ride, wouldn’t you think? The Tebbetts family reunion was quite the show once it reached the hotel in Concord for the ceremony, but it included a lot of familiar Nashua names, including former longtime Nashua High School athletic director Al Harrington. Bambino Baseball legend Fred Lajoie. All on a yellow school bus.
And local baseball guru Bill Twomey.
“The outrageous thing,” Twomey said, “was trying to get that weight into those small seats.”
“I had a meeting with (the NHIAA) last winter, and his resume is unbelievable,” Birdie’s nephew George said. “I don’t think another athlete in the state of New Hampshire has the resume that Birdie has. He was always the catalyst.”
“There were so many connections beyond the inductees,” Lecius said. “My dad and Birdie were good friends. Father Odie, he and I have worked together. And I was involved with Alhambra when Leslie played with in the Alhambra game.
“It’s very humbling. If it wasn’t for my Dad, I wouldn’t be standing here, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into the (broadcasting) business, and I wish he had been here to see it and wish he had gotten inducted.”
The NHIAA has been doing this since 2001, but you wonder how many inductees were worthy of a bus trip. But Tebbetts made the wise move, because there would have been about 20-25 cars heading up instead.
“A lot of old Little League coaches, guys that coached my children, my nephews, all of that, and were all able to sit in one bus,” Tebbetts said. “A lot of them haven’t seen each other in many years. It was a terrific ride.”
“If you want to get something going, get a hold of George,” Lecius said. “He got his whole family together, he beams with pride about his whole family but especially Uncle Birdie.
“He brought a who’s who of Nashua with him. Great stuff, great day for the whole Nashua area.”
Laychak-Rendall was the first to be inducted, with each inductee answering questions on a video shown to the audience, rather than a speech.
But all their accomplishments speak for themselves.
“It’s super awesome as you see kids go through school and then to think I’m up there with the overall greatest athletes in the state is pretty cool,” Laychak-Rendall said. “It \was a different era.”
“It’s still exciting because sports has always been a great passion in my life,” Odierna said. “To be recognized with a lot of people who deserve this far more than me is just humbling.”
You wonder how Birdie would have felt. Maybe proud of his nephew for all his efforts.
“For me, having seen Birdie play, just an amazing situation so many years later,” Twomey said. “He was a feisty guy. And George is feisty as well. He’s serving the family well.”
The ballroom at the Concord hotel was filled, about 300-350 people to honor eight inductees. And one big family.
“We don’t get to do it all the time,” Birdie’s great-nephew Seth Tebbetts said. “It’s great to have everybody together. We all hung out with Birdie when we could, but to have everybody together to celebrate his legacy has been great.”
Sunday will go down in the books as a day about legacies, and the memories that go with them.
And one sweet ride.
Tom King can be reached at 594-6468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).