WORCESTER – Mark “Pathfinder” Epstein is a Worcester man. He cares deeply concerning the metropolis – all the time has.
He’s equally passionate concerning the sport of basketball, particularly two late Worcester hoops legends, Jack “The Shot” Foley and Togo Palazzi.
Each performed at Holy Cross and performed for the Boston Celtics. That story and extra was advised by Epstein on the Worcester Historic Museum on Thursday when he gave an emotional speech to formally launch his new guide, Jack ‘The Shot’ Foley – A Legend for All Time.
Archive:“My ardour flowed out of me.” Epstein presents the life story of Worcester legend Jack ‘The Shot’ Foley
To thank him for writing the guide, Worcester Metropolis Councilman Shawn Rose offered Epstein with a ceremonial key to the town and declared Thursday “Jack ‘The Shot’ Foley Day” in Worcester.
Not dangerous for a man who hasn’t lived in Worcester for over 30 years, however Epstein is firmly rooted in Worcester. He grew up on Durant Approach and his father, Charlie Epstein, owned the once-popular Charlie’s Surplus sporting items retailer on Water Road.
Sporting a smiley face button on his tie — a nod to Harvey Ball, the Worcester resident of Worcester, the world-renowned inventor of the smiley face — Epstein advised attendees Thursday that he spent eight hours each day writing the guide over eight months. making certain that the contributions of those two late basketball giants won’t ever be forgotten.
Epstein and a litany of audio system who’ve spent a lot of their lives taking part in and training basketball, together with former Mayor Tim Cooney, former Holy Cross head coach George Blaney and longtime St. John’s Excessive coach Bob Foley. Time Excessive College Hoops New England Report Wins – Everybody praised Foley’s taking pictures capability.
Additionally they shared anecdotes about his life, together with his love of snakes and his common apparel of trainers and a flannel shirt.
Others, akin to former Worcester Public Faculties Superintendent Maureen Binienda, praised Jack Foley for his contributions off the court docket.
Binienda started her profession as a instructor at South Excessive College, the place Foley taught, the place she held court docket together with her tales within the lecturers’ cafeteria.
“I lastly acquired a seat at his desk and the bell rang (to complete lunch),” Binienda recalled. “I want I might have stayed longer to speak to him. He was a real buddy.”
A South senior who performed for Foley, skilled educator Nancy Mayer Bates at the moment in Rutland was “devastated” when Foley pulled her out of shape.
Minutes earlier than observe the following day, Bates laced up his sneakers and Foley advised him, “If you wish to be nice, it’s a must to be nice each day. There is no room to undergo the motions.”
“Man, it was so intense,” Bates mentioned.
Bates was strongly motivated to develop into a South Excessive parade All-American.
The most effective shooter
Many commentators have referred to as Foley the best shooter to ever reside.
Some recounted the numerous hours younger Foley spent at Worcester’s Holland Rink, the place his fingers have been raised above his head when he shot, making it practically unimaginable to dam.
All that coaching paid off as Foley scored 61 factors in a sport, a Crompton Park League document in line with his brother Frank Foley. The most effective shot got here out of highschool, the place Foley scored 42 factors as a senior at Assumption Prep.
At Holy Cross, Foley averaged practically 29 factors per sport.
Epstein first encountered “the shot” when he walked into the Worcester Boys Commerce Excessive College – Worcester Tech fitness center to play for Foley, who coached the boys group after Foley’s NBA days ended.
In the course of the first observe, Epstein remembers Foley holding the basketball and telling his gamers, “Maintain on to that basketball. In the event you try this, you possibly can develop into an ideal participant and do nice issues.”
Epstein performed 4 years of school ball at Worcester State, and he has been shut with Foley for years, calling him his “massive brother.”
Basketball has develop into greater than a ardour. It put Epstein’s life on the road.
“I used to be so obsessed (with basketball) that I did not handle my training, my profession and my household,” he mentioned. “I used to be hooked on the sport and I needed to get away.”
Epstein After the divorce, he moved to South Carolina, however he didn’t make a clear break. He grew to become a instructor, counselor and basketball coach.
“I’ve by no means been away from it. Worcester basketballs soar out of me if you happen to open me up. That is who I’m. That is my past love,” he mentioned.
One other love for Epstein is Palazzi.
Epstein first met the person Epstein referred to as “Uncle Togo” when he was 7 years previous and attended Palazzi’s summer time basketball camp.
They remained mates for many years, and Epstein spoke with Uncle Togo each week for 50 years.
On Thursday, Epstein pulled a small tape recorder from his pants pocket, pressed play, and the viewers heard Palazzi’s voice.
It was an excerpt from a number of hours of telephone interviews that Epstein had recorded with Palazzi for the guide. He then offered the tape to Holy Cross Athletic Director Nick Smith as a present to the school archives.
Epstein was extra beneficiant.
Greater than 400 copies of his guide have been donated by the Palazzi household to every boy and lady basketball group at 5 Worcester excessive colleges – Burncott, Doherty, North, South and Worcester Tech.
“That manner they’ll be taught the historical past of our nice metropolis,” Epstein mentioned.
Moreover, each St. John’s basketball participant will obtain a replica courtesy of former Holy Cross hoops star Jim McCaffrey.
For these questioning how Epstein acquired the nickname “Pathfinder,” Charlie gave it to his son when he was 11 as a result of Dad preferred the Pathfinder sleeping luggage offered at his retailer.
Named after Key to the Metropolis and The Day of the Shootout, Epstein coated his guide and the lives of Jack Foley and Togo Palazzi.
“This guide isn’t concerning the sport of basketball, it is concerning the lifestyle in Central Massachusetts. These two individuals are my household, and they need to by no means be forgotten.”
Contact Henry Schwan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Observe him on Twitter @henrytelegram