“They play as much heart as the specialists, maybe even more.”
Marsh Webster has been the first to reach. He entered the lockerroom at the Skaneateles, nyc, YMCA at 8:15 a.m., taking his hockey equipment in an Army duffel baghis Warrior stick laced through the strapshis skates dangling from the end of the stick.
“In my age, I want a little additional time to get ready,” the center said, smiling.
Seventy-six years after he saw St. Louis beat the Athletics at Cooperstown, Cardinals fan John Anagnost returned to Doubleday Field to perform Hall of Famers. “He reminded us why people love this game,” Tim McCarver says.
It’s the rest of us who need to catch our breath. When he skated on the ice near his house, a hockey stick cost $1.50 and the Zamboni has been 60 decades away in reality.
Yet the jersey looked as good on Marsh as it did on Newman, that was only 52 at the time of release.
The 2nd player to reach at that Thursday morning scrimmage has been defenseman Dave Van Slyke. “He requires a little extra time, too,” Marsh explained. That’s because Van Slyke, 71, plays prosthetic arms to displace the originals he’d years ago when he had been electrocuted while working above the street for its utility corporation.
Asked when he had compared to Andy Van Slyke, the former key league outfielder from New Hartford, Dave said,”He is a distant cousin, but that I never met him. I played balltoo — it runs in your household room. My father Used as a catcher with the Yankees in 1932.”
“Tough to conquer Bill Dickey,” Marsh explained.
The different netminder was getting ready in a nearby lockerroom.
Meet with the Gray Wolves, an over-, some times manner -over-50 hockey club that’s found a frozen elixir of youth. The memberswho represent Central New York in greater ways than you, scrimmage twice weekly outside of Allyn Ice Arena in this Finger Lakes town and play in tournaments against other senior teams from across the nation. On any Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, you are going to observe lawyers, teachers, civil servants, a business airplane pilot, an orthopedic surgeon, or a warrior who swears like a sailor, a restaurant operator, and — just in case anyone tells too-tall a story — a guy who administers lie detector tests.
“They play as much heart as the experts, maybe even more. I thought I would never play again, but here I am on my own artificial knees, using the time of my life.”
Back after the Gray Wolves were organized into 1998, senior hockey was in its own infancy. They then got an early wrist shot of advertisements from a post in the December 21, 2000,” Syracuse Herald Journal, written by Bob Siuda and also headlined,”Ice Age Revisited.” From the section, Siuda describes the lockerroom scene at the practice rink, which had been subsequently in Lysander, and lent one player kidding Marsh about his era, which was subsequently only 7 7:”His Social Security number is 1.”
Since that time, senior hockey has grown and grown. There are currently tournaments throughout the nation, like the one hosted with the Gray Wolves every spring. In last year’s, their 18th annual, they hosted seven distinct associations in three different age categories (50-plus, 60-plus, 70-plus), including the brightly named Geri-Hattricks in Landover, Maryland.
Nevertheless, it’s less about your contest and more about the camaraderie. There isn’t any bodychecking, no slap shots, even only a vague idea of just what the score would be. “I remember the very first time I played the Gray Wolves,” says Anagnost, that joined the staff at the conclusion of the century. “I have a little rough with Marsh in the cornerand he told me,’We don’t play like here.'”
Overall, 30 players arrived for this particular Thursday scrimmage. There has been a wide variety of energy levels, as well as ages, but they made it are they took their changes without hogging the puck or ice period. Seeing them had been 82-year-old Alastair Wickens, that had to hold his Gray Wolves jersey to get medical factors. When a visitor commented on a no-look pass Marsh had made, Wickens said,”Oh, so you should have seen him when he was 80. He could fly. The different team wanted two guys to pay for him.”
“He’s reticent to speak about himself,” says Tom Webster, 71 and the earliest of the six children. “But he’s pretty incredible. Still has that hockey sense. He is a widower, but he still has your family over for supper dinner on Tuesday nights. I worry about him driving in the snowbut he has lived upstate his life. He’s got his hockey gamesand his 7-year-old greatgrandson A.J.’s games to go to.”
Says Marsh,”When I had been A.J.’s era, we had play hockey in the ponds and cricks around Camillus. Sometimes we had flooding a discipline and wait for it to freeze over. I played baseball at high school at Onondaga Valley Academy. Then the war came, and that I had been drafted. We were sent to France but that I never saw combat. After dday, once I returnedI got my diploma and also helped coach the team.”
He had been good enough to play with semi pro to the Syracuse Stars, but didn’t put food on the desk, so he became a sheet-metal worker, married and raised a family group (five kids, one daughter). But except for a brief time after he broke his leghe’s never ceased playing, be it in pick-up games, the’ Electricians’ League, or the Snoopy Senior Tournament which cartoonist Charles Schulz used to grip on his private racket in Santa Rosa, California. “Dad drove all the way out that once he was 79,” Tom says. “Thank God for rumble strips.”
“I never dreamed I would be playing this long,” Marsh says.
Because the club has been hosting a 95th-birthday luncheon to get Marsh after the scrimmage, there was a full complement of players — and stories. There was Van Slyke, who skates with all the best of these and puts off shots sporadically defensemen with arms that are real. There’s John Taylor, a 64-year-old chiropractic radiologist from Toronto who had been given a stick signed with the 1962 Stanley Cup winner Maple Leafs (Frank Mahovlich, Johnny Bower, Dave Keon, that the Tim Horton, et al.) if you are the most improved player in his youth league. “I sawed it down and used it to play hockey.”
Elwell can be a transplant, from Lachine, Quebec. “Came here to play the Blazers at’69 within an injury mission for that which has been supposed to be 30 days, and it converted into 50 decades,” he says. “While I was still playing, I chose to open a pub near the racket known as’The Back Door.’ Opening night, I played a game, then proceeded to the pub. The audience was so enormous the entrance was blocked. I had to really go back doorway to enter my own bar. Ran for 18 years until they tore it down for a parking lot.”
The pulse of this club is provided by Steve Phelps, that keeps the books, keeps the website (“Welcome to the Den”) and plays on the over-70 championship group. “What an awesome group ,” he says. “Hockey binds us together, sometimes in odd ways. A couple of years ago when we were playing at Cicero, I had been hoping to join the play and found myself heading right toward D.D. Lynch, who played at Onondaga Valley together with Marsh. I glanced away and finished up clobbering Danny Siccio, our air line pilot. As we have up, he asked me’What happened ?’ I said,’Well, it was either you or D.D.’ And he also said,’Great option.'”
The player most committed to this Gray Wolves is Gardiner, whose oldest child is an Army Ranger. She grew up playing the game in New Brunswick, married a minister, moved to Syracuse, raised her children and found herself in a challenging situation. “Long story short, they needed a goalie and that I wanted a friend, and that I got 30 of these,” says Gardiner. The Gray Wolves changed my entire life for the better. They taught me the way to dance.”
And dance they did toward the close of the scrimmage.
Maybe not really Mahar, that the weather to the NBC affiliate in Syracuse, could forecast what Marsh would do. “He put the puck two-thirds of up the way the left handed post,” Mahar says. “I got my stick on it, but it had been a excellent chance, a excellent objective.
“Subsequently he asked me when I let him evaluate due to his birthday was coming up, and I told him what I’m telling you. I wouldn’t let anyone score me on, maybe not really Marsh.”
So Marsh skated back to the seat, smiling as players on either side celebrated his objective. When the scrimmage finally ended, Marsh had been the last one off the ice.
Subsequent to the players were dressedthey headed over to Mo’s Pit BBQ in neighboring Camillus, for Marsh’s birthday dinner. The restaurant will be owned by Gray Wolf Kevin Morrissey, 5-9, who’s usually the greatest player in the icehockey. Also in attendance had been older family and friends , including Marsh’s two mature (!) sisters. You will find treasured photographs and laminated articles, a big sheet cake, an invocation, a string of toasts as well as the demonstration of a Gray Wolves jersey using a C on front and also”WEBSTER 9-5 LEGEND” on the rear of
“I only want to state one thing to you wed out players there,” he said in closing. “Next time, every time, you leave your house to go play hockey, please provide your wife a kiss, and then tell her just how much you appreciate the chance to play this great game. And that I want you to understand just how much I appreciate this.”
Not a bad day to Your Grayest Wolf.