Memories of the Beanpot

Memories of the Beanpot

BC players reminisce as the tournament observes its golden anniversary

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

The bright lights, glitter and fan interest that now symbolize the Beanpot Hockey Tournament were not always a part of this mid-winter Boston sports tradition, according to Boston College hockey players who took part in the inaugural intercity ice competition 50 years ago.

Bill Maguire '54 holds the coveted prize for generations of Boston area college hockey players: the Beanpot Trophy. (Photo by Mike Mergen)
Seven of BC's players from that 1952 squad joined counterparts from Harvard, Boston University and Northeastern on Jan. 28 in a 50th anniversary celebration sponsored by the FleetCenter, the current home of the annual Beanpot competition.

The first game of that original four-school tournament - Boston College vs. Harvard - was played at the old Boston Arena on St. Botolph Street on Dec. 26, 1952. A crowd estimated at 2,500 people watched the Crimson score a 3-2 overtime victory over the Eagles.

The tournament was moved to Boston Garden the next year, attracting only 711 fans for games played during a furious snowstorm. In 1958 it was rescheduled to its now-traditional first two Monday nights in February. The Beanpot notched its first sellout (the Garden's famous 13,909) in 1961 and has played to capacity houses at the Garden and FleetCenter ever since.

"The first Beanpot was really kind of private," recalled Bill Maguire '54, a forward who played for BC in the first two tournaments. "Of course, not only were most of BC's players from Massachusetts, but they came from within a circle that you could draw from Arlington to Walpole."

Maguire recalled that the BC hockey team practiced only three times a week in those years - twice in one hour sessions starting at 11:30 p.m. at the Boston Skating Club on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton and a Sunday afternoon booking at the Arena.

"We had to provide our own transportation to the rinks, too," Maguire said. "I had an old 1941 Ford convertible and we would pile as many as we could get in and head over to the rink.

"And, if we broke a stick, we had to hand in the pieces before we could get another one," Maguire laughed as he eyed the rows of crafted equipment now available on each team's bench.

Joe Carroll '53 was the goaltender for Boston College in the first Beanpot. A native of West Haven, Conn., he lived in a room in a home on Waban Hill Road while attending BC, at a cost of $8 a month. He recalls carrying his goalie equipment on the MTA bus to the nighttime practices of the era. "I think we had a test on every single Friday morning following those Thursday night practices, too," Carroll recalled.

One piece of equipment that players didn't have in those days was the hard plastic facemasks that protect goalies from injury in the modern game. "Of course, the players didn't have curved sticks or slapshots in those days, either," Carroll added.

"But I've still got my own personal souvenir from that first Beanpot right here," he said, pointing to a faded white scar over his left eyebrow.

After graduation from BC, Maguire spent a number of years in Wisconsin, where he was district sales manager for Ray-O-Vac Battery Corp. "There's nothing like the Beanpot out there," he said. Now retired and living in Norwell, he regularly attends the Beanpot as well as BC home games.

Carroll, who now resides in Framingham, is a retired corporate finance and accounting executive. He attended Beanpot games for many years, but now follows the Eagles' tournament fortunes via television.

"Our old coach [John] 'Snooks' Kelley told us that first night in one of his famous pre-game talks that, 'This Beanpot is really going to be something,'" Carroll said. "We all thought, 'Boy, are you full of it,'" he laughed.

"I guess we were wrong."


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