Often, I fondly refer to the North Adams Transcript as the Little Engine That Could.
It chugged along for 170-plus years, thanks to you the faithful reader. And please, there really is no mistake about it, as with anything, it’s the people that made those 170 years so special.
Not just the people who toiled for the newspaper, but those who read it every day, or three times a week, or even once over the weekend. The Northern Berkshire community is full of the most genuine people, and that’s what makes it special, and why I have made my home here for the last 18-plus years.
A good newspaper reflects its community’s values, its interests, and as has often been the case with sports, its passions. As the sports editor here, I took that responsibility seriously, and I can think of others before me (Tom McShane, Dave Metcalf) and after me (Scott Barrett, Paul Gaeta, Ryan Holmes, Josh Colligan) who did as well.
Of course, we had a front-row seat to the greatest moments, and a clear view of some of the greatest coaches and athletes in this area’s history. In a nod the long ago past, you should know that Joe Louis trained here, and Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio played here during yesteryear days when major league players barnstormed.
Happy Jack Chesbro was born here, and became the first Baseball Hall of Famer from Berkshire County in 1946. He still has a plaque around Joe Wolfe Field. Frank Grant was born nine years earlier (in Pittsfield) than Chesbro, grew up in Williamstown, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame 60 years after him, and now has a plaque on Spring Street. Oz Tower of Williamstown and Williams College was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in its first year 1959, along with the father of basketball, James Naismith.
In 1956, a then 16-year-old Jack Nicklaus aced the par-3 14th a portent of things to come for the Golden Bear. Dale Long was born in Missouri and died in Florida but in between lived in Cheshire and graduated from Adams High School. He is buried in Cheshire Cemetery. In 1956 while playing first base for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Long hit at least one home run in eight consecutive games, a major league record he shares with Don Mattingly.
Northern Berkshire is still home to John T. Allen, which is important because Allen coached football at Mount Greylock from 1963 until 2003, winning more Koisor League titles than you can count and two Super Bowls before he retired. He is still the all-time winningest high school football coach in Berkshire County, and volunteers when he can for the Williams College football and baseball teams.
Allen was one of the first people I met when I arrived on the scene in 1995. It was an early July night at the football field, a night when that field was dedicated to Allen and the lights turned on for the very first time.
It was just four months later that Mount Greylock won its first state title in soccer in a remarkably thrilling finish as Mark Girard, son of the Mounties’ coach Bill, scored with nine seconds left in overtime for the 2-1 victory. The very next day, Mike Russo led his Williams College men’s soccer team to its first-ever national title -- on the Ephs’ own Cole Field -- with a 2-0 win over Methodist.
To say I was hooked would be an understatement.
I remember thinking, "What have I stumbled onto here, where all this magic and drama happens in this little mountain community?"
I was planning to stay at the Transcript one year and made it to nine.
And I’m still here, working and raising my family in Northern Berkshire County.
Kris Dufour is a former sports editor of the Transcript.