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slides: Greatest Athletes In Central Mass History: Ashburnham-Charlton

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


This list is full of tremendous hockey players, football players, and even the guy who brought professional baseball to Boston.

It also includes an old-school Happy Gilmore (he's from Bolton), a Walter Payton award winner, and several legendary high school athletes.

From Ashburnham to Charlton, Central Mass has produced plenty of great all-time athletes. Take a look at this list as we count down all 72 Central Mass communities in alphabetical order. 

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#1: Erika Lawler, women's ice hockey.

What Erika Lawler lacks in height, she makes up for in incredible hockey talent.

The 4-11 forward starred at Cushing Academy before helping lead the University of Wisconsin to three NCAA championships in four years (2006, 07, and 09).

She also helped Team USA win a silver medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

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Runner up:

Ivers Whitney Adams, MLB.

Though not an athlete, Ivers Whitney Adams deserves mention as the founder of the Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves) the first professional baseball team in Boston.

The club is the oldest still-operating organization in baseball. 

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#1: Ronnie Watson, basketball. 

Watson was a star basketball player in the 1940s who went on to break the single-game scoring record at Trinity College in Connecticut (32 points).

He also had a long teaching career at Ashby High School.

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#1: Jimmy Barrett, MLB.

Jimmy Barrett knew how to get on base.

The center fielder played nine seasons in the major leagues from 1899-1908 with the Reds, Tigers and Red Sox.

He led the American League in on-base percentage in 1902 and in walks and times on base in 1904.

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Runner up:

Kaija Miettinen, basketball. 

It may be hard to spell, but Miettinen's name is written all over the Central Mass record books.

Miettinen is one of the greatest scorers in Athol High School history, having dropped 50 points on Barre High and 42 on New Salem in 1962. 

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#1: Dick Lamby, NHL.

The St. Peter Marian star represented the U.S. in the 1976 Olympics. 

Lamby also played at Boston University, where he was a two-time ECAC All-East selection. 

He went on to play three seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues.

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Runner up:

Kelly O'Leary, women's hockey.

O'Leary was a terrific defenseman at Providence College and one of the best players on the U.S. Women's hockey team from 1990-97.

She was a big part of teams that won four silver medals in the World Ice Hockey Championships (1990, 92, 94, 97).

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#1: Jamie Morris, NFL.

How's this for a kid from Ayer?

Morris is the all-time leader in University of Michigan football history in all-purpose yards, with 6,201. 

He also held the school record for career rushing yards (4,392) for 13 years before it was broken by Anthony Thomas in 2000.

He spent three seasons in the NFL from 1988-90 with the Redskins and Patriots before retiring due to injury. 

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#1: Joe Sinkewicz, baseball.

The lefty pitcher went 28-1 over three years and led Quabbin Regional in Barre to a state championship in 1974. 

Sinkewicz finished with a ridiculous 11-1 with a 1.11 ERA and 144 strikeouts in his junior year. 

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#1: Ricky Santos, football.

Santos was an unbelievable athlete at Bellingham High, having lettered in four sports. He was a two-time Tri-Valley MVP and once threw seven touchdowns on a Thanksgiving Day game, all to his cousin Steve Wood.

Santos led Bellingham to back-to-back state football titles in 2000 and '01. 

He attended the University of New Hampshire and led the Wildcats to a 37-14 record and two Atlantic 10 championships. He also won the Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in Division 1-AA, and finished third all-time on the NCAA all-time passing list in both yardage and touchdowns, with 13,212 yards. 

Santos currently plays in the Canadian Football League.

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#1: Hannah Andrew, rowing, water polo.

A two-sport collegiate athlete, Andrew helped lead the Northeastern women's rowing team to an undefeated season and a bronze medal at the Eastern Sprints as a freshman.

She swam for US Swimming for 11 years, medaling in various regional and national competitions.

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#1: Cornelius "Con" Daily, MLB. 

"Con the Wanderer" played for seven teams in 12 major league seasons from 1884-96. 

The catcher hit .243 with 2 home runs and 262 RBI. 

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Runner up: 

Eddie Eayrs, MLB. 

Eayrs played in parts of three seasons in the major leagues from 1913-21.

He hit .306 with 2 home runs and 26 RBI in his career. 

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#1: Bill Ezinicki, NHL, PGA. 

Ezenicki is like an old-school version of Happy Gilmore, only more successful.

The forward won three straight Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1947-49 and played 12 seasons with Toronto, Boston, and New York.

After retiring from hockey, Ezinicki went on to become a New England PGA Hall of Fame golfer, winning several tournaments in the region and four state opens in 1960. 

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Runner up:

Hal Gill, NHL.

Gill was a terriffic hockey and football player at Nashoba Regional High School. He also started at quarterback for the school.

The defenseman has played 16 seasons with five teams and won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009.

He's put up 184 points in his career.

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#1: Neil Greenwald, baseball.

The legendary high school coach has won 313 career games and was elected into the Massachusetts Hall of Fame.

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#1: Al Dhembe, football.

The Massachusetts High School Hall of Famer was a legendary Tantasqua linebacker and went on to play at Boston College. 

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#1: Andrew Powell, decathalon.

Powell holds school records at Bucknell University for the decathalon, ranks second all-time in the heptathalon, and was the first athlete in school history to break 5,000 points in each event.

He is also the Patriot League hepathalon champion.


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