7/3/75-8/28/75

Not a lot of sports news, it being summer and all.  But our own Bob Cotterell tossed a no-hitter in the Intra-County / Elks League, and in men’s softball, which yours truly loved catching after dinner growing up, West Summit Garage was rolling behind Don Geddis, Lou DiParisi, Jm Dietz, Steve Schroeder, and Bill Simo.

Willie Wilson was named Player of the Month in the Midwest League as the Royals’ farm team went a record 49-13 in the first half.  After 98 games, Wilson was hitting .292 with 52 steals and all the opposing managers were wondering when the Royals would bring him up.

And classmate Kathy Heddy won the 200-IM at the World Games in Cali, Colombia, besting East German rival Ulrike Tauber; a huge upset.  Kathy talked about knowing the East Germans were bigger and stronger (we didn’t fully understand at the time it was all steroids related) but the American girls in Cali showed guts.  Heddy also captured silver in the 400-IM.  She was training 5 hours a day in the pool, swimming 17,000-18,000 meters!  The thing is, as I’ll be covering over the next year, the East Germans then embarked on an even more intensive steroids program for the ’76 Olympics in what I consider to be one of the sporting world’s biggest travesties.

Turning to other events in town, the big issue of the day was the construction of Route 78 through the Watchung Reservation.  At a hearing in Berkeley Heights, 1,000 showed up and the Herald was full of articles and editorials.  Turns out proposals to extend 78 had been on the drawing boards since the late 1950s.  Looking back, what was funny was the comment of an individual at one of the meetings.

“It would be foolish to destroy the reservation for the road because in 20 years the only vehicles that would be able to afford the fuel costs to travel the route would be trucks.”

Ah, not quite, but such was the thinking behind the energy crisis of this era.

Summit lost $721,200 in state aid for education, thus precipitating a 6 1/2% hike in property taxes.

At the Hunt Club, you could get a 1 1/4-lb. lobster, with salad bar, for only $4.95!  While at Root’s, Hickey Freeman suits were running $189-$239 (on sale).

There was an editorial in the Herald talking of all  the sham weight-reduction products on the market like belt vibrators and rollers, which doctors said don’t work.  Eat less, was their advice.

Classmate Gregg Reynolds aced the 2nd hole at the Muni.  [I’m hoping Gregg buys me a beer for this mention.]

We had a record 10 inches of rain over four days, 7/12-7/16, exceeding the total for the August 1973 floods.

At The Strand this summer…Shampoo, The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft), The Towering Inferno, and The Return of the Pink Panther.

And at the Bunch of Grapes Pub in the New Hampshire House, “David the Bartender.”  Remember him?  “Let David transplant you to the islands with his famous Rum Swizzle, Bossa Nova, and Planter’s Punch.”  Personally, I had too many rum swizzles.

Lastly, on Aug. 17, 1975, Mark Donohue crashed in a practice lap at the Austrian Grand Prix; dying two days later after multiple surgeries to relieve blood clots on his brain.  Donohue had hurtled a guard rail.

Mark Donohue grew up in our area, mostly in Murray Hill, but his parents lived on Valley View in Summit and he attended church at St. Teresa’s.

Donohue went to Pingry and then got his mechanical engineering degree at Brown.  It was in 1965 that a Bedminster native, Walt Hansgen, got Mark involved in racing and by 1972, Donohue won the Indy 500.  He also won the Can-Am series title and 57 races, worldwide, including in NASCAR…in what proved to be Roger Penske’s first win in that sport.

Donohue’s funeral was held at St. Teresa’s about a week after he died and some of us vividly remember it.  My older brother was a huge race fan, so I had become one as well, and we both attended.  Penske was a pallbearer, and among the racers in attendance were legends Mario Andretti, Gary Bettenhausen, Bobby Allison, Brian Redman, Tom Sneva and George Follmer.

Mark Donohue is buried at St. Teresa’s Cemetery.  I take visitors from out of town to see the site.  He was a local hero, and not many towns can boast having an Indy 500 champion.

Next update, Sept. 23.

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