By Paul LaVenture, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Every Tuesday night about 50 people meet at the Knights of Columbus in Shrewsbury to play cribbage. They play in a league founded by Ray Pescaro. After he passed away, the league was named in his memory.??? The league started in 1994 and is run by three officers who play in the league. Don Rondeau manages the statistics, Bob Durbano sets up the tables, and Joe Law tends bar.
The only criterion is that prospective players have at least a basic understanding of Four Hand cribbage.
Many players have been playing the game for decades and players range in age from the 30s to the 90s. This year, member Kathy Sacco brought her father-in-law, Mike, as a brand new player who is referred to as the “oldest rookie.”
“It's a nice sense of community, it truly is,” Sacco said. “It's a chance to interact with other people and it's a nice night out – not too late. It is very enjoyable.”
Longtime member Doris Horgan has played in the league for about a decade. “I played as a kid with my older brothers; they didn's have anyone to play with for years until I saw an ad for this [league] in the Shrewsbury Senior Center paper.”
Two of the charter members are Tip Dagle and Pete Dupre. Dupre's aunt taught him to play when he was 10 years old and he has been playing for 70 years.
“We start the game at seven o'slock but we'se here at quarter-past five or half-past five because we start playing,” Dupre said. “You'se got to warm up; it's like bowling.”
“I think the biggest thing are the friendships,” added Dagle. “You meet the same people every week and everybody's friendly. There are no arguments and that's unusual in card games. It becomes very enjoyable to come down. This game, even at home, is wonderful for the mind because it makes you think.”
League officer Durbano added, “We'se taught our children and grandchildren mathematics through cribbage. I know I have – they do learn to count, that's for sure.”
They may enjoy the camaraderie, but for these players, it's all about the game.
On any given night, each player draws a random partner and is assigned a random table. Each table has two teams that play against one another for a total of six games in two sets. Each set has the potential of scoring eight points. Scoring for each hand ranges from zero to 29, and in all the years only one person has scored 29. Several have scored 28.
Pauline Brodeur has been playing cribbage for 65 years. “Last year I had two 28 hands two weeks in a row, and I was able to count them,” she recalled. “Needless to say, we won those games.”
Ed Hudalla owns the distinction of getting zero two weeks in a row.
In cribbage, your points don's count if the other team gets to the finish line first.
Steven Rodgers, who has been playing for 35 years, said, “I like to save all my luck for Tuesday nights. My most memorable experience here was pegging out when I was 14 points out. Another time I was dealt four aces.”
The league is open to the public and runs for 32 weeks in four eight-week quarters with cash prizes given at the end. It is a nonprofit league that starts the first Tuesday after Labor Day and ends in May with a banquet.
To find out more about the Ray Pescaro Cribbage League, contact Durbano at 508-845-9383 or Rondeau at 508-842-23