Friday, May 16, 2014

My Uncle Richard

One of the first memories I have of my Uncle Richard was that I liked him. He was visiting us at our home on Marconi Court in North York and was sleeping on the fold out couch in our den. I think that I was 4 or 5 years old and Richard was in his late teens.
The problem with someone sleeping in the den was that it was the room with the only television in the house. I'm pretty sure that my sister Hayley and I probably made some noise to help him wake up but when he did wake up he watched cartoons with us. Bullwinkle cartoons.
No older person watched cartoons with us.

That was a true sign of an adult that we could trust. The Bullwinkle Bond was strong.

Here is an amusing story similar to the one above.
Years later when I was in my early teens my family travelled to New York to stay with Richard and his family.
My cousin Lisa was just a little thing at the time.
I was assigned the couch in the downstairs family room to sleep on.
Guess where the television was?
My little cousin Lisa was ordered not to wake me up even though she was dying to get down there and watch TV.
I remember as soon as I opened my eyes I was looking directly up at Lisa who was sitting patiently at the top of the stairs staring at me waiting for me to wake up. As soon as my eyes opened Lisa came flying down and turned the TV on and we watched cartoons together.

Another memory I have from when I was small is of Uncle Richard and I cruising down the old Trans Canada highway at night along the Saint John River from Fredericton towards Moncton listening to Johnny Cash on the 8 track player. I specifically remember listening to "Ring of Fire".
I remember that I liked it a lot and even being as young as I was I knew that the whole situation was very cool.

It's funny but on the day Johnny Cash died I remember being woken up with the radio playing that song. As soon as I heard it I thought of that night driving along with Richard. I still do actually.

One time our family travelled to Clinton, New York where Richard and his family lived and he was playing hockey with the Clinton Comets. We really enjoyed that game. I still have the program somewhere.

Here is Richard's career information from

Rich Scammell
Born -- Fredericton, NB
Height 6.00 -- Weight 200

1963-64 with Peterborough Petes of the OHA - 17 GP, 3 G, 0 A, 3 Pts, 0 PIM
1964-65 with Peterborough Petes of the OHA - 27 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 Pts, 0 PIM
1966-67 with R.P.I. of the ECAC - 24 GP, 27 G, 29 A, 56 Pts, 63 PIM
1967-68 with R.P.I. of the ECAC - 22 GP, 23 G, 23 A, 46 Pts, 24 PIM
1968-69 with R.P.I. of the ECAC - 21 GP, 19 G, 16 A, 35 Pts, 28 PIM
1970-71 with Clinton Comets of the EHL - 18 GP, 8 G, 3 A, 11 Pts, 9 PIM
1971-72 with Clinton Comets of the EHL - 45 GP, 16 G, 21 A, 37 Pts, 8 PIM

Speaking of programs. This photo is from the 1980/81 Les Canadiens book which the team gave out to detail the team and stats.
As often happens, they missed one of the "L"s in Scammell. Ah well. At least it's a good photo.

As you can see, Richard became a scout with the Montreal Canadiens. I decided that since he is family and I liked him that Montreal was going to be my favourite team.

I should mention that I've been the kind of hockey fan that a team doesn't want to have.
I was a Minnesota North Stars fan when Danny Grant played there since he is a good friend of the family.
I was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan until Richard worked for Montreal.
However, I also loved Boston because Bobby Orr was there.
I cheered for Toronto to win their games unless the game was against Montreal. Then it flipped to Montreal.
Richard left Montreal several years ago so my loyalty there was reduced after that.

As I mentioned, one of Richard's best friends and Scammell family pal is hockey legend Danny Grant.
Danny and another hockey star, Buster Harvey, used to put on a summer hockey school here in Fredericton.
Several times we came from Ontario to Fredericton for vacation to visit family and stay with my grandmother and I would go to the hockey school.
Richard was one of the instructors along with other NHL players such as Gilles Gilbert and Fred Barrett.
It was a great school but I'm afraid it didn't do much to improve my minimal hockey skills.
It was pretty cool telling my friends that I was going to a school in New Brunswick that was taught by professional hockey players and my uncle was one of them!

The photo above is, left to right, Danny Grant, my friend Lyle who came with us from Ontario that year, power skating instructor Harold Joyce, Buster Harvey, myself, Gilles Gilbert, and Richard.

These days I don't think I even have a true favourite team. It depends on what's going on.
I liked the Leafs last season while they were doing really well but after the stunning crash and burn in the playoffs that felt like a kick to the gut I hated them. I still haven't gotten over that.

I'll tell you something though.
It was always much easier to be a Montreal fan in Toronto when I was young than being a Leaf's fan. Montreal was regularly winning the Stanley Cup while the Leafs haven't been close for years.

My father has always been the fan a team wants. He's a diehard Leaf's fan and will watch every single game. When we lived in Ontario if he happened to go to a game he would still record it and watch it when he got home!
Even when his brother was with the Montreal organization Dad stuck with the Leafs.

I don't recall how it came up but a few years ago Richard and I were talking about the Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame and wondering why Richard had not been nominated for it before.
I also discussed the matter with another of Richard's best pals and former Fredericton Mayor Les Hull and we set out to gather information and submit a nomination.

This was about 3 or 4 years ago I believe.
We didn't hear anything until this year.

Back in March Richard called me asking if I would be able to attend a press conference at the Fredericton City Club for the announcement of this year's inductees on his behalf. It made no sense for him to travel up from New York for a press conference.
Of course I attended. It was an honour to represent him.

Here is the press release about Richard from that day. As you see his greatest accomplishments may not have been what he did himself but what he did for others.


Richard Scammell

Fredericton native Richard Scammell played in the Fredericton minor hockey system and in junior hockey with the Ontario Hockey Association's Peterborough Petes before attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on a hockey scholarship from 1965-69 where he led the team in scoring twice. He played two professional seasons with the Clinton Comets of the Eastern Hockey League before suffering an injury which ended his playing career at age 26.
He then turned his attention to scouting for the Montreal Canadiens, a position he held for 28 years. Scammell scouted seventy-three players that went on to play for the Habs. The team won six Stanley Cups in his time on the scouting staff. He also refereed Division 1 hockey in the Troy, NY area for nine years, including two games in which the U.S. Olympic team faced off against RPI in 1976 and 1980.
Richard has been inducted into the RPI Athletics Hall of Fame as well as the Capital District Hockey Association Hall of Fame. However, his most enduring legacy is the founding and development of a girls' hockey program in upstate New York. He started the Troy-Albany Ice Cats in 1993. The program now encompasses five teams at different age levels that have won five New York State championships in their 20-year history. The program has sent more than 65 girls on to university hockey programs at the Division 1 or Division 2 level. Two others have gone on to play lacrosse for national championship teams and one plays softball at the NCAA Division 1 level.

On May 3 the induction ceremony took place at the Delta hotel (which is also the location of the wall).
Cheryl and I attended as well as my father and step-mother. We were seated at a table right at the front of the room near the stage. Also at our table were Danny and Linda Grant and of course Uncle Richard and my aunt Denise.
What a great ceremony! We had a blast!
I’ve been to more big dinners than I can count for various associations, organizations, weddings or political things and usually have a hard time keeping focused on the stage. This time was completely different. The stories told by presenters and the recipients themselves were fantastic.
It was the largest attendance in the history of the event.

Click on the picture below to see the full size of the room.

The Room.

Richard and a few of the other recipients.

Richard and Danny Grant.

All of the recipients of the evening

Linda Grant, Richard, Danny Grant, my aunt Denise Scammell

Rather than try to detail the event I’ll let you read Bill Hunt’s article from the Daily Gleaner the next day.
Great work with reporting and the details, Bill. Awesome job.

Record turnout for Wall of Fame inductions

BILL HUNT Fredericton Daily Gleaner
May 4, 2014

For Richard Scammell, it was good to be home.
The 67-year-old Fredericton native is already a member of three sports halls of fame in his adopted home town of Troy, N.Y. But there’s something special about being a hero in your hometown – as Scammell and the other members of the Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame class of 2014 discovered at the 23rd annual induction ceremonies at the Delta Hotel on Saturday night.
Before a record crowd of 400 guests – who combined for an unofficial record eight standing ovations, including the one for recently crowned world senior men’s curling champions Wayne Tallon, Mike Flannery and Chuck Kingston – Scammell and friends took their places among the growing list of Fredericton sports immortals.
Scammell’s sporting exploits as a hockey player, scout and founder of a thriving girls hockey program have earned him membership in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Athletics Hall of Fame, the Capital District Hockey Association Hall of Fame and the Friends of the 112th Street Sports Hall of Fame. Prestigious honours all.
But “it’s my hometown, so I’m going to say (this is) number one,” said Scammell, who left Fredericton at age 16 – two years after the death of his father – for Peterborough, Ont., where he joined Danny Grant with the Petes.

Their paths diverged from there: Grant went on to a long National Hockey League career and Scammell went on to a scholarship at RPI, where he played hockey, graduated and has worked since 1965. He is currently the Director of Research Administration at the upstate New York school.
Through it all, he incorporated a full and fruitful 28-year career as a scout for the Montreal Canadiens which saw 79 players he recommended be drafted by the Habs, 29 of whom made it to the NHL, and the founding of a girls hockey program in upstate New York, the Troy Albany Ice Cats. He founded the program 21 years ago, in 1993, two of his three daughters played in it, and next year, his nine-year-old granddaughter Emily will begin in the U12 rung of the program.
“I look around and I see so many people that I know and that I haven’t seen for years,” said Scammell, who thanked the guests who were there to help him celebrate and said he planned to visit the Pine Grove Nursing Home on Sunday to tell his mom, 102-year-old Annie McCullough, of the honour.
“It’s great being back home so I can share this evening with my family and friends,” he said. “Everybody should be proud of all the inductees tonight. I think they’re a very good example of what people from Fredericton are and can be.”

The class of 2014 ran the gamut, from track and cross-country athlete Wayne Stewart, who drew loud cheers from some 60 supporters in the track community who were there to recognize a career highlighted by his competing as a member of the Canadian cross country team at the world championships in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1977; to golfer Kathy Meagher, still building on a resume that includes at least one provincial championship in each of the five decades in which she has played and titles in each of the junior, amateur, senior and super senior classes; to Fredericton’s dominant senior softball squads in the first half of the decade of the 1980s; to Intermediate Fredericton Caps hockey sniper Billy Hughes, who helped make the B line, with Bob Mabie and Bev Bawn, such a force through the decade of the 1960s.

It also included a nod to both the present and the future in the selection of volunteers Mike and Margie Reed as recipients of the Dr. Bill MacGillivary volunteer of the year award, for the longtime, and ongoing, service to sport, currently with the Fredericton Office Interiors Caps junior team but extending back to peewee, bantam and midget hockey when their own children played; and to Virginia Hokies women’s soccer goaltender Dayle Colpitts, who won the Myer and Jack Budovitch Award as Fredericton’s athlete of the year for a record-setting season in leading the Hokies to the NCAA Division 1 semifinals.

Meagher, ever the epitome of class, hit all the right shots – as she has for half a century on the golf course – thanked the founding organization, Fredericton Sports Investments, “for your continued support of the Sports Wall of Fame and for all that you do for sport in our community. Your legacy is part of what makes Fredericton such a great city in which to live.”

That’s a theme that surfaced throughout: that Fredericton is a special place, a fact stated by all the inductees in varying degrees of eloquence this night.
Family was prominent too: Meagher tracing her Miramichi roots in the game, when she was Kathy Whitty, to thanking her daughter and playing partner Kathryn, “my biggest cheerleader” and, incidentally, her playing partner on eight mother-daughter provincial championship teams.
“It’s very special that I’m joining my late husband John, who was inducted in 2010,” she said. “Among many things, we shared a love of sport ... and now membership on the Wall of Fame.”

Catcher Sonny Phillips, inducted on the wall for his own brilliant career in 1999, was joined on Saturday by all but five of the 30 team members from the 1981-84 teams that captured four straight senior titles and hosted nationals at newly constructed Prospect Street Park in 1984.
In addition to speed, pitching and defence, which the team had in spades, Phillips said “we had a great time for those five or six months (every year) we were together. We found that’s what it was all about ... people, people, people, relationships.”
They were reborn at a private team function on Friday, the night before the official induction ceremonies, said Phillips.
“There were a lot of three-run homers and no-hitters. We’re not sure if they happened, but we sure had a good time,” he said.
“This Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame is really special to us,” he said. “The efforts of FSI really emphasize why the city of Fredericton is such a great community to live in and retire to and give back.”

The softball crowd was exceeded only by the track crowd, which greeted the mention of anyone on track, whether it be Mel Keeling or Peter Richardson, both previous inductees.
“This is great,” said Stewart in humble tones, who counted one little known kilometre among his career highlights – the first one from Parliament Hill in Ottawa in the direction of Montreal and the opening ceremonies of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
“Many thanks to all the athletes who I coached at UNB, who I trained and competed with,” he said, pointing in their direction in the crowd and deadpanning “pretty much all right there.”

Hughes was represented by son Terry: Billy remains on his native Prince Edward Island due to ill health. Terry said his dad wanted to thank all his teammates for their roles in his success.

Colpitts became the 10th female winner of the Myer and Jack Budovitch Award after the 22-year-old led the Hokies to previously unattained heights. They lost 3-2 to the Florida State Seminoles in the NCAA semifinal, ending a season in which she managed 11 shutouts, 19 wins and a 0.77 goals against average and a career in which she set school records with 29 shutouts, 49 wins and a 1.15 goals against average over four years.
Colpitts was humble in accepting the trophy and to be “in the presence of so many distinguished athletes and sports people,” she said.
She called her early years in Fredericton, spent on the rinks, courts and fields of Fredericton, “obviously the best years of my life,” she said.
After playing ringette, volleyball, basketball and soccer in her formative years, she turned exclusively to soccer at 16, starring at Fredericton High School, the Canada Games and beyond.
“But I didn’t do it by myself,” she noted, thanking her parents, family, coaches, teammates and the community.

Margie Reed, speaking on behalf of the couple, said she and Mike were “honoured but also a bit embarrassed” when initially told they were receiving the MacGillivary Award as “Fredericton’s outstanding sport volunteer and community worker.”
“But we’ve had time to let it sink in and are now enjoying the moment,” she said. “Volunteering has become a big part of our lives,” she said. “Most people who ask us to help them out in whatever situation know that if they ask one of us, they’re going to get both of us.”
They’ve lent that spirit and expertise to the Fredericton Youth Hockey Association, the Brendon Oreto Foundation and to teams from peewee, bantam, midget, junior and high school girls hockey over the years, working alongside some 28 coaches and for the benefit of countless young players over their careers, “and we’d like to thank every one of them for taking us along for the ride,” she said.
“It’s funny, because you think at the time that they don’t realize that you’re there,” she said. “But if you meet them in a grocery store or a mall and they give you a big hug ... that’s our paycheque.”

All of the award recipients were fantastic and completely deserving of their awards.

Richard received a very nice silver ring to honour the occasion.
Here is a photo of it along with one of his Stanley Cup rings that he received while scouting with the Canadiens.

I’ll tell you, it was a great night to be a Scammell in Fredericton.

It was also a great night for the city of Fredericton to show my uncle Richard that they are very proud of him and everything that he has accomplished.

Almost as much as I am.

Stay well,

1 comment:

April King said...

Nice read, very nice we can write on fond memories.