As part of our reblog series at TurtleBoy Sports we are reblogging several of the hot takes we purchased off of our dear friend that sold us this site. Although we still use his videos and articles, it is necessary to point out that he is NOT affiliated with this website. His loss. Anyway, it was appropriate timing for this one because Worcester native Richard Rodgers was just drafted yesterday and Doherty graduate Yawin Smallwood should be going any minute now.
Disclaimer – at the time this was written Edwin Rodriguez was getting ready to fight World Champion Andre Ward. We were pretty fired up for that fight, but Edwin absolutely got his ass kicked. He lost arguably 12 of 12 rounds. Nevertheless, we agree that just making it that far justifies his ranking in this list. Enjoy.
I’m friggin pumped for Saturday night. We’re gonna have a good ol’ fashioned FOIGHT to watch on HBO. Worcester’s own Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez fights against the WBA super-middleweight world champion Andre Ward. Ward is the second best pound for pound boxer in the world. He is undefeated, won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, and his WBA Super Middleweight Championship will be on the line. He’s been on the shelf with an injury since last September, last dominated then light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in his last fight before the injury.
La Bomba earned his shot though. He’s undefeated, strong, and he’s got the champ on a ridiculous amount of rest. He’s got several physical advantages, including a five inch longer reach. The fight takes place in California, Ward’s home state. For those of you new to boxing, that means there is a 0.0% chance Edwin wins in a judge’s decision. He MUST knock him out to win.
Ward is an awesome fighter. He’s got a Belichickian mind in the ring – always two steps ahead and planning his next move. He moves a lot, and stays out of most boxer’s range, which gives him more time to plot how he’s going to take you out. In short, he’s nasty. He’s got 150,000+ followers on Twitter. Edwin has 2500 – almost as much as UMass super fan Brian Long.
Is Edwin overmatched? Most likely. We’ll know for sure by the third round. Ward is such a big favorite that as of now there were no online sports betting sites that are taking this until today. The money line is ridiculously in favor of Ward, who sits as a -895 favorite. La Bomba sits at +685. Teams that are down 3-1 in series have better odds of winning than that. Here’s what Edwin is up against:
This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Make no mistake about it, if Edwin wins this becomes national news and he instantly becomes the greatest athlete in the history of Worcester. Which made me think – Who are the Top 12 Athletes in Worcester history? Without further adieu, here ya go……
12. Dwayne McClain. Holy Name 1981.
Wish I got to see this guy play. I went to South High school. We sucked at basketball. Never won more than five games in basketball or football while I was there. Holy Name meanwhile kicked the shit out of us in everything. I hated Holy Name because they were basically an athletic factory masquerading as a school. Dwayne was a Napolean who graduate in 1981. He had four solid years at Villanova, and won the National Championship in 1985 as the 8th seeded Wildcats upset one of the greatest college basketball teams ever: Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas. He only played one NBA season for the Indiana Pacers, but he tore shit up in the Australian Leagues and was named to the Sydney Kings 25th Anniversary Team. I think that’s good.
11. Yawin Smallwood. Doherty 2010.
Somehow this kid never played on a winning team in high school. Not sure how that’s possible since he was the quarterback and got to touch the ball EVERY PLAY. Well UConn has done wonders for him, and he’s transformed into one of the best middle linebackers in the country. NFLDraftScouts.com has him ranked as the second best at his position in the country, and currently pans out to a second or third round draft pick in 2015. Earlier this season he single handedly almost lead UConn to an upset over Michigan with 13 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. How did St. John’s not get their dirty paws on this kid?
10. Rich Gedman. St. Peter Marian 1977.
Somehow he grew up in Grafton Hill and went to SPM. Grafton Hill might as well be Indonesia to people from the West Side. For you non-Worcesterites, there’s the West Side, and then there’s everywhere else. The West Side is what keeps Worcester from becoming Lawrence or Springfield. SPM gets West Side kids, Holy Name gets Grafton Hill kids. So this is a little strange. Maybe it’s because the catcher wasn’t that good in high school. He went undrafted and climbed his way through the Red Sox minor league system. If you’ve ever bought a soda at Pawtuckett, you know by now that the longest game in baseball history was played there (33 innings) in 1981. Gedman caught that game. He went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award, hit for the cycle, made an All-Star Game, became the greatest throwing catcher in MLB history, caught Roger Clemens 20 K game in 1986, and coached the Worcester Tornados to a CanAm Championship back when they were paying their bills. The downside of his career? He gave up a passed ball in Game 6 of the World Series with two outs in the 10th inning that gave up the game tying run. Mookie Wilson hit a grounder to first base after that towards some guy named Buckner….
9. Joe Okrah/Bismark Osei. St. John’s/South High 2001.
These two are cousins and virtual clones of each other. On played on a well balanced attack that spread the ball around. The other went to public school. Biz played on my team, where the game plan was literally, give him the ball and watch him run around. He rushed for close to 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns in one year. Oak’s St. John’s teams dominated every year he was there, and he won a State Championship in basketball as a Junior. He had a slightly better view of it than I did from the stands too!! Both ended up in the State Finals of the 100 meter dash in outdoor track. Both ended up playing football for Northeastern. Both played for the legendary New England Surge of the Arena Football League. Legends never die.
8. Jerry Azumah. St. Peter Marian 1995.
I was a young pup when he was tearing shit up for the Guardians. Azumah was an All-American at UNH, and by the time he graduated he was the only person in NCAA history to rush for over 1,000 yards in all four seasons of eligibility. He won the Walter Payton Award in 1999, which is basically the Junior Varsity Heisman, for the best player in Division 1-AA, after rushing for 2,105 yards in 1998. He played for the Chicago Bears and scored the last touchdown ever at legendary Soldier Field on a Pick 6 off of, who else? Donovan McNabb of course. In ought three he led the NFL in kick return yardage and made himself a pro bowler. Today he’s retired and he and I are friends on Facebook. Nowadays he spends most of his time posting really stupid questions on Facebook designed to garner lots of responses:
7. Keith Reed. Doherty 1996.
There have been a lot of great baseball players to come out of this region, most recently Aaron Alvey:
But before I was 20 years old and destroying kids in Little League under the assumed name of “Aaron Alvey,” there was Keith Reed. He was better than Gedman was in high school, which is why he is ranked higher despite the fact that his MLB career lasted all of five at-bats for the Baltimore Orioles. Nevertheless he was one of the greatest high school baseball players in state history, and at Providence College. He was a first round draft pick in 1999. Nowadays he’s just a good ol’ fashioned Dad raising a lovely family.
6. Richard Rogers. St. John’s 2011.
Burncoat High School missed out on this one. Dude was an absolute legend for the Pioneers. St. John’s won District Championships in basketball all four years of his high school career, and he started every game. He won a State Championship as a sophomore, defeating Lynn English by 20 points, and then nearly won another one as a Junior the following year. As dominant as he was at basketball, he was one of the most disgusting high school football players the region has ever seen. St. John’s didn’t just win when he went there, they kicked the shit out of everyone. Most games usually ended around 49-7 with three or four long TD’s to the WR Rogers. Nowadays he plays Tight End for California, and is currently projected to be a first or early second round draft pick in 2016, as the top nationally ranked Tight End in his draft class.
5. Ron Brace. Burncoat 2004.
Ron Brace is just a giant piece of man meat. No other way to describe him. His estimated weight is 340 pounds, which makes him the biggest player in Boston College history. As you can imagine he tore shit up in high school. I was busy studying at the UMass library during his whole high school career, so I kind of missed him. But I would imagine being a 160 pound running back and having to run straight at this giant mass of a human being would suck epically. The second round draft pick by the Patriots has been a complete NFL bust and frequently caught the ire of local rabble rouser Mike Felger. Nevertheless you will simply never see a high school football player that had the impact he did for the Patriots. Oh yea, and he won back to back State Championships in the shot-put. I coached track in Worcester for a couple of years, and there was actually a “Ron Brace rule,” which dictated that athletes had to participate in three meets in order to compete in the League Championship meet. Apparently Coach Cox would just pull him out of bed on Championship Day, watch him throw the shot-put 60 feet and send him back home. Can’t say I blame him.
4. Tim Ritchie. Doherty 2005.
Easily the greatest and most prolific runner in Worcester’s history. Not even close. He was always nasty in high school, but not THAT nasty. He never won a district championship, finishing in second his senior year to Gardner’s Josh Boone. His highest finish in a State Meet in track and field was 4th place in the 2 mile as a senior. Nevertheless, his college career was outstanding, capped off by second place finish at the New England Championship as a junior for Boston College in 24:53. That’s when his career really began. Since then he broke the 4 minute mile barrier (3:58), and most recently ran the Minneapolis Marathon in 2:14:49. This qualifies him for the Olympic Trials for the 2016 games. Oh yea, and he’s a AidanFromWorceser loyal reader. We need a nickname for people like this. Now taking suggestions.
3. Mike Bradley. Burncoat 1997.
Easily the most dominant basketball player Worcester has ever seen. Scored over 37 points a game for Burncoat Freaking High School as a senior. Could’ve gone to any prep or catholic high school he wanted to but he kept it real instead. I was a freshman and got to see him play plenty. He was literally the entire team. He beat a very, very, very good Doherty team three times that year, including in the District Finals in which the Patriots won. His games were sold out days in advance. Some of the biggest name coaches in college basketball were regulars in Worcester for his home games, including Rick Pitino, who ultimately got him to come to Kentucky before he (Pitino) ditched town, came to Boston, and ruined the Celtics. At 6’11” he simply dominated at the high school level before winning a National Championship at Kentucky, and transferring to Villanova where he was the 2001 Big East Player of the Year. He was drafted by the Toronto Rapters 17th overall, and spent five years in the NBA.
2. Edwin Rodriguez. Doherty High School 2003.
He goes to number 1 if he wins on Saturday. He’s 24-0, ranked #1 by the WBC at 168 pounds, and most recently is coming off of his most convincing knockout first round victory. His last eight opponents had a combined record of 128-8-4, so he’s not beating up on morons. He leaves himself open a little too much, which Ward will eat for lunch, but when he starts connecting with combinations he’s nearly impossible to stop. He’s also a normal, down to earth dude, who comes from humble origins in the Dominican Republic. His twin children are fighters too who were born prematurely and struggled to survive. All in all, dude is an amazing story. Oh yea, and did I mention he beat the shit out of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a sprawling session back in 2010? You need to get on the La Bomba train now!!!
1. Major Taylor. Biking school.
Taylor was the first African-American athlete to achieve the level of world champion in any sport. The world’s greatest cycler in the late 1800’s he moved to Worcester because the white people in Indiana didn’t appreciate that he was kicking all of their asses. His biggest fan? Theodore Roosevelt. The “Worcester Wirlwind” AKA the “Black Cyclone” held seven world records in 1900, and often went days without sleeping while surviving on nitroglycerine. “During his career he had ice water thrown at him during races, and nails scattered in front of his wheels, and was often boxed in by other riders, preventing the sprints to the front of the pack at which he was so successful.” Once during a race he was tackled on the race track by another rider, who choked him into unconsciousness by some local idiot who got a $50 fine from some local idiot judge. He died a pauper in 1932 after he lost everything in the stock market crash. This dude is truly the greatest legend Worcester has to offer. Can Edwin pass him on Saturday? We’ll see….
- Gordie Lockbaum: one of the greatest all-around college football players ever at Holy Cross. Finished third in Heisman voting in 1987. Not originally from Worcester though so he doesn’t make the cut.
- Bob Cousy: one of the greatest basketball players ever and won a national title at Holy Cross. Not originally from Worcester though.
- Neil Fingleton: he was 7’6″ in high school and he wasn’t even the best player on his team. He might be the biggest freak, but not one of the best athletes.
- Bill Guerin: he was born in Worcester but moved to Western Mass when he was 4. Doesn’t quite qualify under AFW standards.
- Tim Collins: probably should’ve made the list. He’s had a better career than Keith Reed, but Reed was a much bigger prospect.
- Tanyon Sturtze: he came close, but the fact that he’s an epic dooshnozzle that gets in fights at the Perfect Game kept him off the list. Pretty sure he started shit with the Red Sox too when he was on the Yankees.
- Mark Johnson: another solid omission. Power hitting first baseman for the Pirates.
- Jarrett Jack: played for Worcester Academy, but I don’t count any of those people. None of them are from Worcester. Craig Smith too.
- Jose Antonio Rivera and Bobby Harris: Both great boxers. They’re not even close to what Edwin is though.
- Ryan McCarthy: Ron Brace’s arch-rival at St. John’s. There can only be one champion though.
Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.