008: Movie Playing in My Head with Tom Caraccioli

It’s a good thing he could see it in his head because the tears about blinded his eyes.

Tom Caraccioli’s visit to Normandy and Omaha Beach were inspired by reading D-Day, June 6, 1944. Tom loves history.  Loves to read about history, loves to write about history and loves to talk about history.  A conversation with Tom sounds like a history lesson you longed for, not one that was forced upon you.

Tom and his identical twin brother, Jerry, coauthored Striking Silver, the Untold Story of America’s Forgotten Hockey Team and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the Moscow Olympic Games Their description of Olympic sporting events come to life because he weaves in intricate details, including the foul smell of the former Soviet Union Hockey Team and a darling flirtation between the coach of US Men’s Hockey Team and Olympic figure skater JoJo Starbuck.

More than anything, Tom’s storytelling of his reading roots, when he cracked open a book on the porch in Upstate New York as a child, will remind you of your best reading memories.

Related Books

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

by Marcus Luttrell (Author), Patrick Robinson (Author), Kevin T. Collins (Narrator)

Alexander Hamilton

by Ron Chernow (Author) and Scott Brick (Narrator)

D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of WW II

by Stephen E. Ambrose (Author), Jesse Boggs (Narrator), Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

Full Podcast Transcript

Why I Read Nonfiction with guest Tom Caraccioli hosted by Kevin Walsh

[00:00:12] Recorded live from the Sweet Tea Studios in Wellesley Massachusetts. You’re listening to the podcast, Why I Read Nonfiction. Hosted by broadcaster and author of The Perfect Catch and Follow the Dog Home. Here’s Kevin Walsh.

[00:00:30] Well welcome to the program and thank you to Nirvana on beautiful Cape Cod for sponsoring Why I Read Nonfiction where we’re a little bit different than other reading podcasts where this is more about the reader and his or her habits why they chose the books that they did. Books that have stayed with them throughout the years. Of course, we talk about the books but it’s more the impact on us as books in our reading habits reach into our personal souls. A couple of things, do us a favor subscribe to the podcast it’s easy and it’s free and share the word of the podcast with a friend that helps keep us going. Our guest today is Tom Caraccoli. He’s the author of two books Striking Silver The Untold Story of America’s Forgotten Hockey Team and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Tom is joining us from New York. What’s going on my friend?

[00:01:19] How are you? Good.

[00:01:20] Good to be with you this morning. I always enjoy talking to you because we have a lot in common. Perhaps we should share the back story of how we met. Do you want to tell it? Or should I tell it? You go ahead and tell it. OK. So you’re married to the former Mary Fay who used to host a television program. You and I both work in the television and the sports programming industry in general. But there was a time that I was a newsman in Philadelphia and your wife hosted a show called Money Matters. And when she would take time off for whatever reason vacation I would substitute host for it. Did you ever see me try to live up to her legacy on TV Tom?

[00:02:04] As far as business is concerned I did see it once in a while. And it wasn’t your finer moments on television but you managed.  The smart thing is is I knew what I didn’t know and finance.

[00:02:21] I think I’m pretty good just keeping conversations going. But I know when I’m in unfamiliar territory. So I just kept handing it off to our guests who were the real financial experts.

[00:02:31] But it always amazed me. It always amazed me at Mary’s level of you know knowledge and finance and it still does.

[00:02:40] Well you’re a lucky man. You definitely all kicked your coverage. You understand that right.

[00:02:46] Oh no doubt no doubt.

[00:02:49] So take me back to you’re reading beginnings you’re originally from where?  Originally from Oswego New York which is a small town in upstate New York right on Lake Ontario about 40 miles northwest of Syracuse New York. And anybody who knows the area knows it’s a heavy snow country and in the snow belt. So we grew up in a lot of snow and winter weather and a great place to grow up. But you know I’m glad as an adult that I don’t live there anymore. I don’t like shoveling snow anymore. So you live now in Brooklyn? No, I live right in Manhattan and right Manhattan and work here and live here in Manhattan and and enjoy our life in New York.

[00:03:40] What’s that like the contrast between Lake Oswego and Manhattan?  It’s totally different isn’t it?

[00:03:45] Well Lake Ontario and you know Oswego New York I mean it’s yes it’s night and day. I mean you you know when you step off the train in New York there’s this constant there’s this buzz and there’s just energy that takes over and I can remember as a kid coming to New York for the first time when I was just starting out interviewing for jobs and coming from Oswego New York and getting off that train and just immediately being swooped up into the energy of of the city compared to what I was used to and I never realized you know living in New York and in Oswego that I was that I grew up and you know what would be considered farm country. And until I got down to the bigger cities and I lived a little bit in Boston. And then I moved to New York and Philadelphia and places like that. But I never realized that until I got to New York and that energy and the energy of the big city and you know it is a bit intoxicating for sure.

[00:04:45] I can’t I can only take it for I admire you for it for living through it and thriving in the madness. I am about an eight-hour time limit in New York and I enjoy it for that time. And then I got to get the hell out.

[00:04:56] It’s just too much for me I like my boring life in the suburbs but talk to me about when you first started reading your mother wanted you and first of all you’re one of how many children?  One of one of seven so.

[00:05:11] Six boys I have an identical twin brother and so there were seven of us were at the tail end. My brother Jerry myself my brother Kevin are the three youngest and you know we had our fair share of raising hell.

[00:05:30] And every once in a while my mother would be like out get out of the house. Go go do something just you know you gotta you gotta do something. Get that energy out so you know if it happened to be raining that was a problem but she didn’t care. She would be like go read on the porch. You get go read on the porch you know get off the couch go read out on the porch. So I say you know grab a Sports Illustrated or Time magazine or Reader’s Digest or the newspapers.

[00:06:01] And we go sit out on the porch and read. And that’s really how he got into it. You know a lot. And I always like to read. But. But you know that little push there and. And my dad was a voracious reader and both my parents read a lot. So it just seemed like a natural thing. And we always had we always had books and magazines and newspapers around to read. So it just was a natural thing in sitting out on the porch in a summer night in Oswego which you know regardless of what you’ve heard in the winter in the summertime it’s really beautiful. But sitting out on the porch on a summer night reading the newspaper or magazine or whatever it was our book was really great.

[00:06:51] It’s a simple life but an enriching life. And I imagine there are times when you cracked open a book even in the skyscrapers of Manhattan and it takes you back to your childhood days when you were reading on the porch.

[00:07:05] Oh yeah. No doubt no doubt.

[00:07:07] You mentioned your brother Jerry. You’re an identical twin. First of all the name thing.

[00:07:11] Does that come up a lot and people ask about cartoon characters is there any connection?

[00:07:15] You know. No. There is no connection. But it is unforgettable. And you know working in the industry that we’ve worked in for as long as we have people tend not to forget who you are. And that’s a good thing because you know what we do is based on you know that sticky factor right keeping that memory of things and so you know having Tom and Jerry as our calling card has served us well. And you know what you have to take it in good stride if you don’t have a sense of humor about it growing up then you’ll go crazy. And thankfully Jerry and I have always had a good sense of humor about it and we’ve always used it to our advantage in that. People remember us so we we’ve thrived from it.

[00:08:08] I think.  As they confuse you sometimes as often happens with identical twins. I’ll tell you a story before we get to the books and I’m sure you got one. So I’m looking at this guy in the back of the room at Gillette Stadium waiting for Bill Belichick to come in and do a debrief on the Patriots.

[00:08:24] And I’m sure this was the AFC championship right? It had to have been.

[00:08:27] And Jerry works for CBS Sports. And I am looking at him like hey there’s Tom Caraccioli. I haven’t seen Tom in a while and I’m kind of like looking at him and I’m waving to him and he’s looking at me with this curious look and I’m like when did Tom turn into an asshole. So finally I went over and I’m like my name’s Kevin Walsh what is yours? He said it’s Jerry Caraccioli.  Oh, I forgot you guys were twins. And I’m like I was thinking of you Tom. Yeah, you’re giving me a puzzled look I didn’t really. That happens a lot, doesn’t it.

[00:08:56] Yeah. Yeah. And I’m sure Jerry at one point figured it out. You know because you get that look you know like I get it on the subway every once in a while. And you’re right. I mean it’s it’s one of those things where we tell each other you know don’t don’t be a you know be a jerk because you know you never know who you’re running into and what not that we are you know we’re it’s always good nature because you can tell. I mean after years and years of that look you get the sense in you-you can tell. So you know you just say you know I’m guessing that you’re thinking Tom or I’m Jerry on this brother you know and they’re like no way. That’s just happened to Jerry not too long ago.

[00:09:37] At the Final Four and. And one of my former colleagues at Turner Sports came over and said Tommy how are you doing. And I can’t I’m not Tommy and I’m Jerry.

[00:09:52] I’m Jerry and she said no way. I had to actually pull in one of my other former colleagues to say he is full of crap. You know I’d say you know Tom’s got a twin brother as Jerry works for CBS so it does happen all the time.

[00:10:07] But again you know it makes for good makes for good stories and in a memorable moments I guess and you know unforgettable parts of you know our industry because you know it’s a very small industry really when it’s all said and done and you know a lot of people you’ve remembered and if that’s one of the guys that’s great and it makes good reading and writing too. I want to get into Striking Silver which you co-authored with your brother and I just I think writing a book with a family member but particularly an identical twin I just want to know how the thinking goes and if there’s different thinking or it’s similar.  We’ll get that we’ll get to that in the back half of the show but let’s get into some of the books you love books about sports but you love books that marry sports history and life.   Playing Through the Whistle by SL Price tells the story of western Pennsylvania steel country and really how that region produced athletes but really built America.

[00:11:07] What did you like about it?

[00:11:09] Yeah. Well you know I like reading books about sports and I like reading books about history but I also like reading books that my friends wrote and Scott is a friend of mine who writes for Sports Illustrated. And I’ve worked with worked with him and and others for a long time. And so when our first book Striking Silver came out immediately Scott was was happy for us and it kind of kind of took Jerry and I into a different level of respect from the writers that we worked with because they realized wow I haven’t written a book yet. And but but Scott wrote this book called Playing Through the Whistle on his he’s written a number of books. And he had another one called Heart of the Game but Playing Through the Whistle was was his book that about as you said western Pennsylvania and the steel country and Aliquippa P.A. and anybody who knows that knows that that region has produced numerous numerous high profile athletes. Dan Marino, Jo Namath, and Joe Montana to name a few as well like Mike Ditka right.

[00:12:27] Yeah.

[00:12:28] Right right right. So I mean as well as some others that as you just mentioned that are that are more prevalent today but yet Ditka is a big big part of this book as well. And so anyway Scott took this area and he told he mixed the the history of really in the industrial revolution the production of steel and the building of America where steel was produced to build our cities and how it came into play and produced you know the sports and you know turn us century sports was college football college basketball and and as we progressed through the early 20th century it was really a big part of society. You know high school sports college sports all that.

[00:13:21] Sure. And if you wanted to assimilate into American life for the immigrants if you played a sport and you were good at it that was your ticket in it.

[00:13:31] Exactly. And so Scott took us take us on that journey and granted and I’ll be the first to admit you know it starts out very slow but then all of a sudden it’s just like all this and it just takes you in. And if you’re if you’re in the history and you’re into sports and the whole thing it just is really it’s like a like a cyclone just pushes you pulls you right in. And and and I just got caught up in it. And I actually have my my wife’s family is from that area. So it was particularly interesting to me as well because they live and I’ve been there many times.

[00:14:13] And so this you know playing through the whistle double entendre there playing through the whistle meaning you know sports and playing through that that you know Fred Flintstone for those old enough to remember the cartoon Fred Flintstone the start of the Flintstones cartoon that whistle goes off and then Fred Flintstone goes sliding down that the Brontosaurus and he’s going home or playing through the whistle the end of the day.

[00:14:40] And in baseball and football and and basketball in that part of western P.A. and and how it evolved and how it how it it ascended to heights and then has descended because you the decline of U.S. Steel because of foreign competition.

[00:15:03] But exactly the roots of that place are in the book.

[00:15:07] But it could be anywhere too when you have a book that tells you about a place and can give you a feel for the characters and about the infrastructure that made a place special. And then you can visit it you’ve read about it you’re marrying the two. I love the overlap of history along with a story and a location. And I think about other things where I’ve learned certain journeys like I just recently read the Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck which was the journey of two brothers who got in a covered wagon started in Missouri and went out to Oregon. But it also told the story of their connection as brothers which I think you would love having six brothers but also marrying it with what the original pioneers going west were doing. And I learned more from that book and I learned more from Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and the boys in the boat by Daniel Brown. The history of Nazi Germany when it was piggybacking on top of a sports story and I think that’s an incredible combination to do don’t you.

[00:16:11] No absolutely, I mean.

[00:16:12] You know Unbroken. That book was just phenomenal. And you know you compare the book to the movie and there’s no comparison. I mean there’s absolutely no comparison to it in other books that we read you know Lone Survivor another one that that I was reading a few years ago.

[00:16:32] Tell me about that Tom. For those that are familiar they won’t mind the repeat but those that are not familiar, bring us up to speed.

[00:16:41] Well it was it was a story about three three Marines servicemen who were trapped in Afghanistan and they they were trapped in the hills of Afghanistan fighting the Taliban surrounded by the Taliban and or it’s either three or four it’s been a while since I read the book. But but but they had really little chance of getting out. I mean they they just couldn’t. They were Marines. They were they were you know they were they’re tough but they were special forces special forces right. And so you know it took everything they got three out of the four were killed but not before they they fought like hell they get out and they had one lone survivor and it tells a story of how he survived and the heroes that he served with. And it really is if you want a a book and a story about the hardship of of what our men and women are going through these days and have since 9/11 Lone Survivor is just a phenomenal phenomenal story.

[00:17:56] Is this Marcus Luttrell.

[00:17:58] Yes. Marcus Luttrell.

[00:17:59] Oh yes. OK you know what that was a book that made the rounds among New England Patriots because Bill Belichick as we know has a real affinity for all things military having essentially grown up at the Naval Academy in Annapolis and I know a number of the players on the team read that let me dive into your reading habits. Do you read every day Tom?

[00:18:21] I do read every day. I don’t read books every day.

[00:18:24] But a lot of a lot of my job entails having to read and be up on trades and what’s going on in the world and news. And so you know a lot of it there’s trades and I read several newspapers a day or parts of newspapers. And so I do read every single day. It’s just a matter of do I have the time to at the end of the day after reading so much during the day. Do I want to read some more.

[00:18:57] Or do I do I just want to watch a hockey game you know and a lot of times you know these days anyway I want to watch a hockey game because we’re in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs as you know.

[00:19:11] And because reading may need a mental break it can be inspiring relaxing but it can be taxing at the end of the day. I look at. I do most of my reading at the end of the day and it’s a reward for the reading that I had to do during the day. And that’s the difference for me when when you do find the time to read you have a particular place where you do it or it’s just wherever you can do it?

[00:19:36] Yeah wherever I can really I mean it’s you know I generally in my living room. You know it’s not I don’t have I don’t have a study that I go to that I retire to or anything like that.

[00:19:45] Just when I have a quiet moment and I just try to read to read a few pages if I can and and just kind of unwind and shut it down. But but you know there are some books that I read Hamilton Ron Chernow’s Hamilton right. And anybody who’s read that book knows that that that book is a lot to chew on. It’s about I don’t know eight hundred pages long something like that to me it’s a big big book.

[00:20:13] Is he the most interesting of the founding fathers?

[00:20:17] Well I’ll tell you after reading that book and all the hullabaloo about the play the musical and all that we’ve learned about Alexander Hamilton I’d have to say that he. He’s right up there. Yes definitely. Because honestly reading that book you you come to find out how our country was founded. The characters behind it Chernow does just an awesome job of research. And and I would say yes I would say Hamilton was was most definitely one of our interesting characters founding fathers. And you know you go through the list of those founding fathers Jefferson, Adams, George Washington, Hamilton. But but that book was just an amazing book. But you know you say you read to unwind you really when you’re reading that book.

[00:21:12] I found that when I was reading that book I had to start another one as well because that was so dense and so involved that you had to concentrate very hard to to to understand and try to place things that happened then and how they relate to what’s happening now.

[00:21:34] So you felt that this was a real students mission. This is not a book that you just churn through the pages.

[00:21:40] You’ve got to stop and reflect.  You do you do it. But but as a as a person who loves history.

[00:21:50] It was it was still you know yeah. Was it. Was it a function of of intellect. Yes but it was still very interesting to me. And you know I’m not saying that every time I put down Hamilton I had to pick up you know Power and Destiny you know or something like that or or whatever Michelle Obama’s book or whatever Richard Nixon’s memoirs but I did always have another book that I was that I was reading you know. I mean I just I actually just finished a couple of books recently I just read Abby Wambach’s book and again from the U.S. women’s soccer team from the U.S. women’s soccer team. And one of our greatest you know athletes in this part of the 21st century. No doubt when I mean when when we talk about it when it’s all said and done you know you have to think about Abby Wambach as one of those founding women who who have have created a new sense of of empowerment for women as well as Serena and you know other familiar faces. But but Abby Wambach Wolfpack a real quick book it’s about 100 pages long. And I actually read it in one sitting. It was that good.

[00:23:16] Does it get into her personal life?

[00:23:19] It does. It does. Tell me about that. And she’s not shy she’s not shy about about her personal life. She’s a lesbian and coming out as a lesbian was a difficult thing but, but you know a liberating aspect of of her life and how it related to her ability to lead the soccer team and and her athletic ambitions.

[00:23:51] So you know I think I that that type of stuff is just part of their personal life and it’s interesting. But to me it’s more about you know what makes her tick.

[00:24:05] On the playing field and if that’s part of what makes her tick on the playing field and then you know great.

[00:24:12] That’s I see. I want it all I want it all I want to know them as the public figure I want to know them as the public figure for better or worse or whatever it is because I think everything about everybody makes them interesting. I can’t get enough of the stuff. Our guest today is Tom Caraccioli. He is the author of Striking Silver. Tom, I want to get into that book but I want to talk to you about. You took a trip over to France after reading a very special book which got into what happened on D-Day and Normandy. And it was a powerful moment for you and it made me think about my life. D-Day June 6 1944 by Stephen Ambrose. So you went to Normandy and Omaha Beach. Why did you do it and what happened?

[00:24:54] Well you know as we approached the 75 anniversary of D-Day and this year and June 6 about a month away I was fortunate enough when I worked at USA Network we televised the French Open. And so I was over there for I think two and a half three weeks televising the U.S. Open. I mean the French Open and I had within those 21 days twenty something days. I had literally two days off where I didn’t have to work and I just finished reading this book, Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day June 6 1944. Again another huge book like 600 pages long by far isn’t it.

[00:25:38] I mean it really is huge huge right. Yeah. I’ll get to that. So. So anyway I read this book. And I had it my head that you know what I may never pass this way again.

[00:25:50] I don’t know. So I’m going to take a day. I had a day off and I’m going to go to Normandy and I so I asked some people that I worked with some locals and they said oh yeah you know you’d take the train to Caen and and from Caen you’ll take a bus and you know it’s an easy thing to do. Good. So.

[00:26:09] So let me just interrupt or say as you’re as you’re taking this journey are you reliving the pages or are you kind of in your mind seeing yourself living out the pages that you read in the book.

[00:26:20] Well yeah. When I got there I mean first of all when they say you’re going to Caen it was a very pivotal place for for the for the Americans and the army and you know that the allied forces to get to because that means that they were very able to infiltrate enough of the coast to really take over and you know invade. And so so you’re just hearing that Caen you think of the famous church and you know the snipers and we’ve all seen Saving Private Ryan and there was scenes along those lines of snipers and in in church towers and things like that.

[00:27:00] Well it’s had a lot going on your head you’re probably imagining the bridge scene from Saving Private Ryan in which he pulls Private Ryan and says earn it.

[00:27:09] Oh yeah.

[00:27:11] So where is your heart in your throat.

[00:27:13] Well I mean. So we get to we get to Omaha Beach and we start and once you get to Omaha Beach they just kind of let you go. Right.

[00:27:23] And everybody on that bus is there for a reason. You know I mean there’s there’s certainly you’re not there by mistake. So some people go immediately to the cemetery some people like I went to the beach and I went to the bluffs and I went to the bunkers. But I I took a walk.

[00:27:42] It was low tide. And I took a walk about I’d say a good 300 yards out into what was the ocean during the invasion.

[00:27:53] For the whole time that you took your shoes off and rolled your pants up.

[00:27:57] No no. It was. There was no ocean at that point because it was low tide so so you know low tide was out. Always beach. Basically, it was a beach. So I was able to walk out and you know when when you see the images of of Normandy and the invasion it was high tide so they had to come in high tide because it got them closer to the beach.

[00:28:18] But this was low tide so I’m out there about 300 yards and I just turned around and I looked at the bluffs and you immediately feel a sense of oh my god these these guys these my great uncles and my my grandfather’s friends and my you know my parents parents you know my parents friends parents were. They were there.

[00:28:54] They they were the men and women who stormed that beach who you know gave us the ability to live the life that we have today. And so I turned around and looked at that and it just you talk about you know you just mentioned your throat coming. I mean your heart coming up in your throat.

[00:29:12] It was very emotional Kevin. And the pages of that book. Did they. They literally jumped off into my mind.

[00:29:22] You’re playing natures off the page says you’re looking back at the empty bluffs you’re actually seeing a movie playing in your head.

[00:29:30] Oh yeah you absolutely are.

[00:29:33] And you’re thinking about all the young men who I mean I was much older than those kids that were storming that beach that gave up their life that day because they knew you know a bunch of knew. And this is my last day on Earth June 5th when when President Eisenhower came through the ranks and everybody you know they were preparing for the invasion. These guys knew this was my last day on Earth and how true. I get chills thinking about it right now. Oh yeah. Awesome. I mean you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t you wouldn’t be human. And then the cool thing about this Kev was when I got off the beach and I was walking around the bluffs and and we’d go and you walk down a little ways you would see locals and they would just kind of nod their head to you and just.

[00:30:29] And they were older you know. They were there. They like they’re old enough to cause this was and they know why you know where they knew who they know I’m there.

[00:30:37] Yeah yeah they know what American and they don’t know you know they don’t know exactly but they know an American. They know there’s a reason and they nod to you because they figure you must be here because your grandfather was here or your relative or something but it was just so indelible It gives me chills thinking about it right now.

[00:31:02] And can I tell you I I purposely brought a bottle with me to to Normandy that day and I picked up I filled up that bottle with sand from Omaha Beach and I have that bottle I’m looking at it right now. I have that bottle. And to me it’s a constant reminder of how

[00:31:30] lucky we are to live in the country that we live in and and and the sacrifices that that our forefathers made in our our world enough to be able to say that are our uncles and great uncles and the people that we know. Not too far removed fought that war and it can be just that that book. Anybody interested in in D-Day.

[00:32:01] As we approach as I said 75 years D-Day June 6 1944 by Stephen Ambrose.Tremendous book.

[00:32:08] Yeah well said Tom. Our guest is Tom Caraccioli for links to the books that we’ve discussed here what he’s reading and that we talked about instead of playing the mind mental games what was that just go to my website https://whyireadnonfiction.com, and many thanks to our sponsor Nirvana on beautiful Cape Cod. If you’re looking for a great spring summer fall getaway check out Nirvana. All right let’s talk about your book Striking Silver in a lot of ways this is and it’s in the title that this is a forgotten hockey team the 1972 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team played in Sapporo Japan won a silver medal. But there is an incredible story that not a lot of people know about how did you find this story and decide to write about it.

[00:32:52] Well thanks. Thanks for asking.

[00:32:55] First of all thanks for acknowledging the book. You know our book and my brother Jerry and I wrote it in 2006.

[00:33:06] And it was really a labor of love for us because we are hockey guys and we grew up playing hockey I already told you you know I grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario so you needed something to do in the wintertime and thankfully we were we were lucky enough to be able to play hockey. And one of our coaches growing up and to this day you know a you know a central figure in our lives really is our former coach Pete Sears and his wife Kay and. And he was a member of that team. And so you know we all knew it growing up. We knew that Pete was a member of the 1972 team and that he won a silver medal. But you don’t really think as kids you know when I first saw that medal when I was 5 or 6 years old.

[00:33:59] But you don’t understand the significance of it until you get a little older. And as we got older and we’re getting older also 1980 happens the miracle on ice and everybody knows that.

[00:34:14] And because they were young and it was so unexpected that this group of American college kids could be what essentially was a professional team in the former Soviet Union but practiced right and that that kind of made it easy. The story of the 72 team to get lost in the shuffle.

[00:34:35] Absolutely so. So what people don’t know is that our book about 72 will that the 72 team wasn’t supposed to do anything either.

[00:34:47] They were picked you know maybe if they were maybe lucky day to get out of get out of the first game and get into the main draw. But they did and and they ended up they ended up winning a silver medal. But one of the interesting parts about this book and one of the threads in this book is that the coach Murray Williamson was he had coached in 1968 he’d coach the Olympic team in 1968 and his captain for that team was none other than Herb Brooks.

[00:35:22] And again for all your listeners know her Brooks was the coach of the 1980 team the miracle team.

[00:35:30] So Herb took you know any any good coach takes things that they’ve learned from other coaches and incorporates them into their own style and process. Well one of the things that Murray did in 1971 he was invited by Anatoly Terrace off to the The Godfather of Russian hockey. He was invited to come over to Russia and see how the Russians trained. And so he jumped on that and this is 1971. So we’re you know we’re in the Cold War still this is not a this is not a lighthearted excursion regimes like you’re inviting the enemy into the den and they.

[00:36:16] I mean to show them how to take you down.

[00:36:20] Think about it think about Bill Belichick inviting. I use the example when the booking of inviting Tony Dungy into training camp okay and showing them all the tricks. Well that’s what actually pterosaur basically was doing he said look you know I we are the greatest team in the world. I have no I like you Murray and I and I’d like to see you succeed. And so but I don’t do I think that you’re better than us. Do I think that you’re going to be us. No. But. But I’m going to. You know I’m going to show you how we do our business.

[00:36:56] It’s obviously very well courtesy to to raise somebody along the way. Yeah.

[00:37:01] And so Murray went over there and and back in the days like I said Murray was a coach in 1968 but back in those days he had also signed on as the coach for 72. So it was in 68 and 72 Olympic thing for him coaching duties. So anyway we went over there and he took notes and filled up notebooks and of of off ice training things like we brought that over and he sent that into place and put that there were cut.

[00:37:31] I’m sorry. Sorry to interrupt. Let us get tied up. I’m gonna have to bring you back. You know my coming back to you. No not at all.

[00:37:37] Ok. But just let’s put a period at the end of this year. There were a couple of things that stood out to me aside from winning the silver medal which was fantastic. There were a couple moments that stood out to me and they’re stuck in my memory. And the reason why is because they involve two things smell and a little bit of sex.

[00:37:55] You know where I’m going with this the smell the smell Yeah the Russians can write it into words and why that was important.

[00:38:04] So Tom Miller who is a defenseman a BC grad all-American in BC told the story about the thing he’ll never forget about his Olympic experience was walking into the food court and the smell of the Russian team as they were sitting there eating. It was just so overwhelming that that because they didn’t you know they would come in they they would play the Russians would play and then they would run back from the arena to the Olympic Village.

[00:38:42] They wouldn’t take the bus. The coach made him run. So they were still in their gear and all you know. Disgusting right.

[00:38:49] And for those that are not deeply familiar with hockey, there is no smell like hockey has the smell all to its own. But if you marinate some vodka in with that and and garlic and bad hygiene and not wash your uniform it’s like it’s pungent. But it wasn’t just in the food court. It was wherever they were. You could smell them a mile away.

[00:39:11] Right. And so Tom told the story. And to him it’s it’s indelibly etched that that smell will bring him back like hills will have that smell will bring him back kind of like when you go over to your grandmother’s house right and your grandmother’s been long gone and her soul is resting but you get to smell and you’re like oh you know that smell reminds me of Grandma’s you know smell that pie you smell the cookies or if it’s out of the ballpark you know the smell of Fenway Park or wherever you were right where a friend’s house that kind of had a stinky smell.

[00:39:49] Ok.

[00:39:50] The Sex Part.  It’s the sausage vendors on the street at Fenway Park back in the day. Not anymore. But back in the day you get that smell of those sausages cooking. You knew you were at Fenway Park. Near Kenmore Square.

[00:40:00] Oh Tom you’re back. They’re back. You have to come over. They are back. Yes. On Jersey Street which was formerly known as Yawkey Way. The Sex Part. Let’s finish up with this before we say goodbye. What’s the sex part? The coach Dancing with the beautiful debutante.

[00:40:17] Well so it’s not as sexy as you’re leading up to you but I like your I like your style. But any rate so at one point some of the guys know they’re all 21 22 years all right.

[00:40:28] They go up to Jo Jo Starbuck who was the star figure skater of the day.

[00:40:35] You know she was the Dorothy Hamill she was a Kristi Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan type of the belle of the ball even if the balls not going. Right. Right. So anyway they went up to her and said to Jo Jo there that the tournament was over for them and they was the night before the then the last day of the tournament and they were all in a club they saw Jo Jo Starbuck and so was like guys like you go over to Jo Jo Starbuck hey would you mind going over to our coach and asking him to dance.

[00:41:05] So I go sure you know so she goes over and he pulls Marie out on the dance floor and his dancing and the guys are laughing and it is you know feeling like hey look at me you know all you young guys look at the old guy here it is really about. He’s only about 34 35. Anyway, he comes back after the music already comes back to the bar and he says the guys gives him a shove with the elbow.

[00:41:29] He says I still got it.  Isn’t that great.

[00:41:34] There’s nothing there. That’s the theory to it. Hey let’s let’s leave it there. It’s I always enjoy talking to you. Come back another time and let’s do it again soon. All right. Absolutely Kevin, it would be my pleasure. OK. All right. Thanks, Tom for joining us.

[00:41:48] For more about Striking Silver and other books that we talked about on this program log onto our Web site https://whyireadnonfiction.com and check out Nirvana. Beautiful Cape Cod the perfect spring summer and fall getaway with world class trout and bass fishing. Subscribe to the podcast easy and free and do us a favor share the podcast with a friend for Tom Caraccioli. I’m Kevin Walsh. Thanks for listening.


Read More

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to listen?

Listen on a mobile phone or tablet and subscribe – it’s easy and you’ll receive new episodes for free. 

How to Rate/Review using Itunes

Help others discover our podcast

Podcast categories

Search our podcasts

Keep the Conversation Going

join the Nonfiction Network
Join Now