Designated Hitter: Amherst picks team mascot

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Thinking about things while waiting for spring to really arrive. Come on, let's get that done.

If an Amherst College student dresses as Sam the Sham, and the pep band plays the '60s hit "Wooly Bully" at a football game, now you'll know why.

That's because Amherst has its first "official" mascot: the mammoth.

So, you might just see a woolly mammoth on the sideline next fall.

When the Amherst College baseball team visits Little Three rival Williams on April 15, it will mark the first time the Mammoths have made an appearance at their NESCAC rival.

The college revealed its new mascot name, and according to the press release, it is the first official mascot in Amherst history.

The Mammoths replaces the Lord Jeffs in the eyes of most alumni and fans. But, according to a letter from Cullen Murphy, the chair of the Amherst Board of Trustees, Lord Jeffs has never been an official nickname.

"The college itself has never officially adopted Lord Jeff as a mascot — or adopted anyone or anything else as a mascot, for that matter," Murphy wrote.

The school had 2,045 suggestions to replace the Lord Jeff, and decided among 30.

Listed among the semifinalists were Aces, Beacons, Fighting Poets, Hamsters, Mastodons (a cousin?), Octagons, Purple Aces and Radiance.

Some of us were rooting for Hamsters.

One Williams athlete I spoke with last week actually thought it was kind of "cool" to have a mammoth as a mascot. In discussions I had, it is decidedly a minority opinion.

Amherst is one of, as far as I can tell, five teams with an elephantine mascot.

You have the Tufts Jumbos to start. Alabama is the Crimson Tide, but the mascot is an elephant. Rose-Hulman Technical Institute in Indiana is the Engineers, but also has an elephant mascot. Fort Wayne is the Mastodons.

FYI, Tufts has the longest football winning streak among elephantine mascot schools, as the Jumbos won their last four games in 2016.

So, when Amherst comes to Williamstown for football this fall, expect to see a battle of slow-footed mascots on the sideline.

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So, if you were watching the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, you undoubtedly don't need to be told that play-by-play guy Dave O'Brien had to bail out on the broadcast. Seems as if he's been bitten by the same flu bug that has been running roughshod through the Boston clubhouse.

Tom Caron, who does Williams-Amherst football games on NESN, picked up the baton from the NESN studios. He's a pro's pro.

You can blame O'Brien's last week, and the apparent lack of sleep, for his getting sick.

After all, a week ago today, he was calling the NCAA women's basketball championship game on ESPN. He flew out of Dallas that night and took a catnap in New England before turning around and heading to Fenway for Monday's opener.

Take it from me, if you don't get your rest, you become a ready target for flu bugs.

Just ask Obie.

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So, I get an email from the Adirondack Thunder, a minor league hockey team in Glens Falls, on Saturday.

The team sent out its list of the 35th Anniversary of hockey in Glens Falls team. Most of them are names that unless you are a real hockey geek, you've never heard of. But there are several who are, to this day, very well known.

The list starts with defenseman Barry Melrose, who played for the Adirondack Red Wings from 1983-87. The man with the mullet did play for Detroit, coached the L.A. Kings and is now ESPN's hockey expert.

Former RPI All-American Adam Oates played for the Red Wings in 1985-86, and was a teammate of Melrose. Oates went on to star in the NHL with the Bruins and Capitals.

Peter Mahovlich played in Glens Falls in 1981 and '82. He is one of two members of the All-Adirondack team that has his name on a Stanley Cup. Mahovlich's older brother, Frank "The Big M," is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Peter had a lengthy NHL career, including multiple stints with Detroit and Pittsburgh, and nine years with Montreal.

Not a bad team.

Reach sports columnist Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.


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