It's supposed to be one of the best weeks on the local sports calendar -- when all of our local schools start playing games again.

But the opening of the 2013 season had a cloud cast over it because we lost two of the good guys.

In my more than two decades covering news and sports in Berkshire County, I can count on one hand people I consider to be giants. Paul Dowd was one of those people.

If it was the Jimmy Fund, or the Pittsfield City Council or a Red Sox organization where Pittsfield first got to know him, Dowd had an opinion and was willing to listen to others as well.

It didn't matter when I saw him, Paul Dowd always greeted me with "Hawk, how are you doing?" That, by the way, is a nickname from my broadcast days here.

I've met bigger people in stature, but Dowd was a big man, in personality and in accomplishments.

Most baseball players who came to Berkshire County as a stop on their way to what they hope would be a big league career moved on. Dowd settled here, raised a family, and became as much a part of Pittsfield as anyone who was born at Berkshire Medical Center.

It was a great gesture a couple of summers ago when Dowd was honored at Wahconah Park with the ceremony naming the diamond there Paul Dowd Field.

It was an even bigger thing this past summer when University of Maine baseball player Brenden Geary got to play for the Pittsfield Suns on the field named for his grandfather.


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"It's a great opportunity to play, basically for my grandfather, all summer," Geary told me the day the Futures League season started. "It's something special to play on my grandfather's field."

Not very many players who spent summers in Pittsfield have decided to stick around the area. Bryan House, who played for the Pittsfield Cubs from 1987-88, is a local musician, while Sean Conley, a former North Adams SteepleCats player, got married to a county woman and has planted roots in the county.

If either of them are half the man Dowd was in Pittsfield and Berkshire County, they'll have spent their lives well.

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I made former St. Joseph football coach Gary Bianchi laugh the other day when I asked him who was going to give me a Snickers bar the next time I covered a St. Joe football game.

Jay Horth, Gary's brother-in-law, had been a part of the Bianchi football coaching tree at St. Joe for almost as long as I was back on the football reporting beat.

Horth's passing last weekend started the high school football season off without the excitement we all usually feel.

The respect Horth earned was shown at his funeral on Wednesday, where the current St. Joseph team showed up in jerseys as an honor guard, and Wahconah football coach Gary Campbell Jr. had a group of his players in their blue home jerseys to honor Horth as well.

After all, Horth might have been part of the St. Joe family, but he was Dalton through and through.

Remembering both men, while sad, will bring smiles to our faces. Ultimately, that's a good thing.

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.