By Matt Taylor, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Phil Ricciuti has covered a lot of sports since 1984. He has interviewed famous local sports figures and athletes, such as former Red Sox manager John McNamara, Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque, and Celtics Hall of Famer Larry Bird. But he remembers most passionately the local sports and athletes he covered in his hometown of Hudson. Ricciuti spoke about a number of these events as the Hudson Historical Society honored him March 27.
Like many writers, Ricciuti had a full-time job as an office supply salesman during the day, and covered games on nights and weekends for the “Middlesex News,” the “MetroWest Daily News,” and eventually the “Hudson Sun,” where he has worked since 1984. He started off speaking about the 2012 Division III State Champion Hudson High hockey team.
“This was the greatest team I'se ever covered,” Ricciuti said. “The 1991-92 team was a great team, but this year's team was exceptionally talented and played together so well.”
Oddly enough, Ricciuti grew up in Hudson's chief rival, Marlborough.
“When I was in high school, I didn's come to Hudson very much,” Ricciuti said. “We worried about our cars getting egged.”
He recalled the great crowds and enormous buzz that ran through the Morgan Bowl on the annual Thanksgiving Day game against Marlborough, and soon enough he switched from a Panther to a Hawk fan.
“I never let myself forget I's a Hudson fan,” he said.
Ricciuti's first assignment was a hockey game in 1984 between Hudson and Nashoba, which Hudson lost, 4-2. Since that time, he has seen a no-hitter in baseball, a Division 2 Gymnastics champion in Kim Gillespie, a Girls Softball championship in 2007, an Olympic hockey player in Tina Cardinale, and a number of Eastern League Football championships by the Marlboro Shamrocks. He also covered the birth of some enormously popular sports in Hudson such as girls hockey, boys and girls lacrosse, and the Hudson Street Hockey League. He also watched the development of a number of programs at Hudson Catholic High School before it closed in 2009.
Ricciuti's career as a sports writer hasn's always been smooth sailing. He was run off the sidelines at a Hudson football game and yelled at by former Red Sox manager John McNamara. He even found himself in the middle of a fight between two people at a Marlboro Shamrocks game. Despite this, he was never afraid to get what he needed to bring fans closer to the action.
Ricciuti had access to Boston's professional teams as well. His favorite interview was with former Red Sox second baseman Marty Barrett. He also vividly remembered interviewing former Bruins goalie Reggie Lemelin after the Bruins clinched a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1988. But he loves covering high school games because of the commitment and effort displayed by all the participants.
“Everyone should go to high school games,” Ricciuti said. “The competition and excitement is as good as it gets.”
Ricciuti has been covering games long enough that he is seeing a second generation of athletes appear on the field of play. He covered Jason Wardwell on the gridiron of Morgan Bowl in 1991 and is now covering Wardwell's sons Jake and Ryan, who play for coach Dan McAnespie. Ricciuti mentioned that today's athletes are a lot different than the ones he covered in the 1980s.
“Athletes today are bigger, stronger and faster. They have quite an edge in talent over the athletes of 25 years ago.”
Ricciuti talked about how long he plans to continue his work.
“Sports writers don's retire; they just run out of ink.”