Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Zero To 10,000

Raise your hand if you ever covered a football game at Upsala College?

TigerBlog did. Upsala was a small college in Essex County, about 45 minutes north of Princeton. They were called the Vikings. At least that's what TB thinks they were called.

Upsala closed in 1995. Before that, it was a regular football opponent of the College of New Jersey, which was then called Trenton State College. Back when TB was a sportswriter, he covered a lot of TCNJ football, including games at Upsala.

It was a small campus. It had a nice little field. It was a nice place to watch a game.

Upsala was the alma mater of his late friend Tony Persichilli, with whom TB worked at the Trenton Times and who later worked at the Trentonian as well. Tony Perch, well, he was quite a character. 

TB called the paper one day quite a few years after he left, and Tony answered the phone. This was an actual conversation:

TB: "Tony, what's new?"
Tony: "New? Nothing. I'm still sitting in the same chair I was sitting in the day you left. Probably wearing the same shirt too."

He was a good man, Tony was. And he loved the city of Trenton like few people ever have. He was taken way, way too soon. 

TB didn't realize that another person from his newspaper days also went to Upsala. That would be Fred Hill Sr., the long-time baseball coach at Rutgers. Fred Hill Sr. passed away two years ago at the age of 84.

This is a quote from Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs from the Rutgers release after Hill's death:

“Fred Hill was more than a hall of fame coach, he was a hall of fame person.” Those are the truest words that could be said about the coach, who was known to everyone as "Moose."

Fred Hill Sr. was a great baseball coach. This is from his obit:

Hill’s 1,089-749-9 career record — including the 147 games he won on the diamond at Montclair State University, where he was also the school’s head football coach — ranks him among the 40 winningest coaches in college baseball history. Hill guided Rutgers to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, 12 regular-season conference championships and eight conference tournament titles.

What TB will never forget about Coach Hill is something seemingly minor. TB covered some Rutgers baseball when Hill was the coach, but hardly what you would consider a lot. Still, any time TB ever saw Fred Hill Sr. through the years, at basketball games, luncheons, anything, he always greeted TB by his name. For some reason, that always stuck with TigerBlog, that someone he didn't know well and who knew a million people took the time to remember his name.

TB found out on Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley's Twitter feed that Fred Hill Sr. was an Upsala grad. 

As you know, TB is a huge fan of Scott Bradley's Twitter feed. TB has written about it several times in the last few months, though never before January. Why's that? Because it didn't exist yet back then.

Now, a little more than half a year later, Bradley's feed has more than 10,000 followers. To be exact, as of yesterday, he had 10,521 followers. He'd only tweeted 467 times and was only following 256 people. 

That's building a substantial following in a very short time and doing so in a way that suggests that people are drawn to what he has to say. And why wouldn't they be? He's smart. He's thoughtful. He goes deep into issues of baseball on all levels.

He has something to say. He says it intelligently. People respond.

Imagine that. 

It actually gives TB hope.

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