Boston Celtics Delight Fans
At Ball Game in Hopedale
Crowd of 500 Attends Clinic
And Contest; Cousy, Loscutoff
Lead Scorers With 32 Apiece
If you weren’t living in Hopedale in the 1950s, you might think I’m making up this story. How could that happen? Perhaps you’re thinking that the next thing I’m going to tell you in this way-out tale is that the tickets were free. Actually, the tickets were free. Here’s how it happened, as I recall. The NBA was still fairly new at that time, didn’t fill the Garden regularly, as the Bruins did, and would do things to gain fans that would never happen now. The Dr. John Cicchetti family, who lived on Mendon Street in Hopedale, had a summer home at the Cape. It was next to the home of Walter Brown, owner of the Celtics. Dr. Cicchetti arranged with Brown to have the Celtics play in the new Draper Gym. They played here in 1956 and again in 1957. Below are Milford Daily News articles on both of the games.
HOPEDALE – The Boston Celtics put on a combination clinic and ball game last night at the Draper Memorial gym before and enthusiastic capacity crowd of 500 fans.
From the moment that Bill Summers, American League umpire, tossed up the opening ball, the Celtics were the crowd-appealing team that owner Walter Brown expects will bring an N.B.A. title to Boston.
The famous, fantastic, and fabulous Bob Cousy put on one of his amazing exhibitions of point scoring with 32 points and showed local fans why he is the idol of fans all over the country. “Jungle Jim” Luscutoff matched the output of “The Cooz” in leading the Greens to a 102-92 victory over the Whites.
The Celtics put on a spirited ballgame as they prepared for their opening N.B.A. tussle with the Knicks in New York next Saturday night. But the fans were hanging on every move that Cousy made as he led the Celtics through a clinic on offense and defense and showed the gasping spectators some of his patented behind-the-back passes and deft hand-offs.
The players were divided into two clubs that hustled throughout the night as they poured through 194 points in a 40-minute thrill packed game. Some of the familiar faces in the lineup showed their offensive abilities as Bill Sharman poured through 21 points with his soft one hander from outside the key and big Jack Nichols worked effectively from under the boards with 22.
Two former Holy Cross teammates, Tom Heinsohn and Togo Palazzi were the same offensive scorers local followers have enjoyed in the past years as they dunked a combined total of 32 points through the hoop and showed great hustle for the colorful Celtics
The winning Green team led throughout the contest, posting a half time lead of 47-42. In the second half, Loscutoff and Cousy combined for 25 and 16 points to seal the verdict. One of Cousy’s buckets was a long one hander that put the Greens over the century mark and gave local followers an idea of the scoring show that the Pros offer the fans in their league games.
Johnny Silk, former Boston College star, provided the only bad note when he required two stitches to close a cut eyelid as the handed off to Tom Heinsohn and bounced off a stray elbow early in the third quarter. He was treated by Dr. John Cicchetti, a spectator.
The officials were Don Wellman and Irving Portnoy, who recently joined the traveling Celtics after officiating the last 13 years in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Herbert (Archie) Picard introduced the players to the crowd and politely thanked Dr. Cicchetti for helping to bring the Celtics to Hopedale. Milford Daily News, October
Youngsters Received Biggest
Thrills in Watching Celtics
HOPEDALE – At least one youngster “floated” home from the Draper Memorial Gym last night.
“I almost got his autograph,” piped up the little tyke, staring wide-eyed and pointing towards Jim Loscutoff as the Boston Celtic’s forward raced down the court during an intra-squad game. The lad beamed as he leaned on the scoring table. “Did’ja see him touch me?” he said. “And I touched him, too.”
The youngster’s excitement exemplified the wonderment of so many boys who cheered the Celtics here and later besieged them for autographs. The players seemed happy to oblige. Loscutoff was the particular idol of the little fellow at the scoring table. A few minutes later the brawny Californian almost barreled into a bunch of youngsters following a drive on the basket.
Our little guy reached up and patted him on the back. Loscutoff turned momentarily, smiled, and patted the youngster on the head. It was like getting a new bicycle. (P.S. The boy later got Jim’s autograph, too.)
With the kids the Celtics were “real great guys.” With the adults they were “regular Joes.” Tommy Heinsohn was mobbed by young autograph seekers when walking over to a corner to pose for a shot. The cameraman snapped a better picture than he expected, with Heinsohn surrounded by boys. The Celtics spent some time signing autographs as they left the building. They were amiable and polite. Observers were impressed.
With less than a minute of play remaining, a sportswriter leaned over and shouted, “Take a shot for your 30th point and give us something to write about.” No one knows if Cousy heard the newsman, but he promptly pushed a long shop that swished through.
“Thanks,” laughed the scribe.
While kidding each other at times, the Celtics were serious throughout the scrimmage. It was a good workout for them and a good show for the fans.
The entire squad was entertained by the Draper Corporation at a luncheon at the Larches after the game. Wives of the players, plant executives and newsmen were guests. Milford Daily News, October 25, 1956.
Click here for more on the Celtics 1956-57 season.
As I recall, the reason Russell wasn’t with the team for their first year in Hopedale was because he was on the U.S. Olympic basketball team in Melbourne. He didn’t get back to play with the Celtics until December.
Boston Celtics And Cousy Delight
Over 500 Spectators In Hopedale
Game Feature Program
HOPEDALE -The Boston Celtics came, saw and conquered the hearts of over 500 applauding spectators last night in a two-hour practice drill and intra-squad game at Draper Memorial Gym.
The overflow crowd was impressed by the fancy capers of the National Basketball Association champions, who put on another good show. It was the Celtics second annual appearance here. In the intra-squad game, consisting of four eight-minute periods, Bob Cousy’s team rallied to defeat Bill Russell’s club 84-78.
Area fans got their first close-range look at Celtics’ Coach Red Auerbach, who missed last year’s trip here because of a meeting in New York. Auerbach introduced each player at the start of the program and sent the squad through plays. The Celts then played an intra-squad game and showed the wares they will be peddling in the coming NBA race.
They were good wares that delighted the large assemblage. Cousy, the incomparable, flashed some of the form that had sportswriters and fans agog throughout the country last year. The former Holy Cross whiz used his patented behind-the-back dribble and awed the crowd with some nifty passes – especially when a pass seemed impossible. The fans also got a charge out of big Bill Russell who jammed the ball into the basket and blocked some shots.
In the final summary Arnie Risen and Tommy Heinsohn led the winners with 21 and 20 points respectively. Lou Tsioropoulos of the losers was high scorer of the night with 22.Conspicuously missing was Dick Hemric, who has been dropped by the Celtics although no official announcement has yet been made.
Auerbach and the11-man squad were treated to a luncheon at the Larches after the program.
Responsible for bringing the Celtics to Hopedale were Dr. John R. Cicchetti, Draper Corporation officials and Walter Brown, owner of the team and president of Boston Garden.
Exactly 500 tickets were distributed for the program, but many fans without tickets were admitted after the intra-squad game got underway. Milford Daily News, October 17, 1957.
Above – Bob Cousy signing an autograph.
Below – Bill Russell.
Both photos taken at the Draper Gym.
The two photos above were sent by Dave Boccasile, who said they were from his friend, Ed Condon.
From Bob Redden – Top photo left to right: Harvey Cohn, trainer, Lou Tsioropoulos, #29, Bill Sharman, #21, Cousy, signing, #14, and Dr. John Cicchetti, # Great Guy.
Lower photo, left to right: Bill Russell, smoking #6, Dr. John Cicchetti, Great Guy, as previously noted, smoking. The record shows that he eventually quit smoking.
Bob adds, “Validity of players’ names is not guaranteed.”
A while after sending the pictures above, Dave came up with six more from the big event. Here they are.