July 30, 2002
by Matthew Bencal
The Maroon & White
Most members of the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame are either standout student-athletes or coaches. The Hall's Class of 2002 includes one member who does not fit either of the traditional categories, but nevertheless deserves to stand proudly with the school's all-time athletic greats, for without his vision, the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame might not have gotten off the ground.
Richard "Dick" Bresciani was just a guy doing his job, albeit with an unparalleled amount of passion and ambition. And for his lifelong contribution to UMass Athletics, and in particular, the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame, Bresciani will be inducted next January into the Hall he helped create back in the late 1960s as a member of its Class of 2002.
"Dick is the most loyal alumnus I know," said UMass coaching legend Jack Leaman, a Hall of Fame member himself. "No matter what's going on, the University of Massachusetts always comes first. If anything needs to be done in Amherst, Dick is first in line to volunteer.
"Much of what is good in athletics at UMass is there because Dick never forgot his roots," Leaman added.
As a senior at Hopedale (Mass.) High School, Bresciani had a choice. He could go to an expensive college and pursue a history degree, a subject he thought he wanted to teach someday, or he could follow his friends and attend the University of Massachusetts.
Bresciani chose the later, and studied journalism. He became a student assistant in the sports information office under CoSIDA Hall of Famer Dick Page, and covered UMass athletics for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. After graduation in 1960, he was rewarded with a full-time job in the athletic department-sort of.
The department only had enough money to employ Bresciani for nine months each year, meaning he became unemployed each summer. His summertime unemployment, like his decision to attend UMass, though, was for the best.
In the summer of 1967, Bresciani moved down to Cape Cod and got a job working for the Cape Cod League, the nation's premier amateur summer baseball league. At first, he was just doing public relations. It wasn't long before his hard work and talent earned him a promotion.
"They asked me to be the league's director of public relations and statistics," Bresciani said. "I gained experience and knowledge. That helped when it came time to apply for the Red Sox position."
Between working at UMass and the Cape Cod League, Bresciani had a dream in the back of his mind. He wanted to work within Major League Baseball.
While working at UMass in 1968, Bresciani, along with former athletic director Warren McGuirk, investigated the possibility of establishing a UMass Athletics Hall of Fame.
"We were interested in an organization at UMass that honored and rewarded student-athletes who excelled at athletics," Bresciani said.
McGuirk gave Bresciani control of the project, and Bresciani thoroughly researched athletic Hall of Fame's at other New England institutions. He also received assistance for the Hall of Fame project from people like Jim Mulcahy, then-head of the Varsity M Club.
The details were then sorted out and nominations were received for the Hall's first induction class. Longtime coach Harold "Kid" Gore and multi-sport star Lou Bush were the Hall's first members. Little did Bresciani know that, more than 30 years later, his groundbreaking work would land him alongside Gore and Bush, two of UMass' all-time greats.
"It feels great [to be selected to the Hall]," Bresciani said. "I never envisioned this, especially considering I never played varsity sports at UMass. It's a great honor to join the coaches and athletes who did tremendous things and had wonderful accomplishments."
According to Mulcahy, though, the Hall of Fame was not Bresciani's only contribution to the school's athletics program.
"Dick always traveled with the football, basketball and baseball teams, and when he was on the road, he picked up ideas on how other schools were doing things in their athletic departments," Mulcahy said. "He'd bring those ideas back to the Varsity M Club [then the department's all-sports booster club and fundraising arm] board of directors.
"I don't believe there was ever an idea that Dick brought before the board that it didn't run with," he added. "He had such a tremendous vision, and wanted to make things better for all of our teams."
While the Hall of Fame idea was hatched on one of those roadtrips, other improvements such as travel blazers with a Varsity M patch for athletes to wear on the road, weekly Varsity M Club Luncheons with coaches and administrators, and banners in Curry Hicks Cage to recognize the school's basketball teams which made postseason appearances are just three of the contributions that came to be during Bresciani's tour of duty in Amherst.
"In my opinion, he was the heart and soul of the athletic department," Mulcahy said. "He lived and breathed UMass Athletics. Dick is such an astounding person, and he continues to be such a good friend of the University even though he hasn't worked there in 30 years or so.
"Dick is very deserving of this honor," he added. "Coaches and athletes had a better life because of him. He cared about all of our teams, and still does to this day. Dick is the ultimate UMass booster."
Between working at UMass and the Cape Cod League, Bresciani's resume was flourishing with real-world experience. Eventually, Bresciani decided to put his dream of working within pro baseball into motion. He wrote a letter to the Boston Red Sox, introducing himself and explaining that he was interested in a position.
They wrote back. Sorry, but no positions were available.
Six months later, Bresciani wrote again, offering his services.
No luck again.
In 1972, though, a spot opened up. The Red Sox called Bresciani and told him that their public relations director may be leaving to work for the Brewers. Would he like to interview for the job?
The rest, as they say, is history. Bresciani started as the Sox's assistant public relations director, and was promoted to the team's publicity director post in 1978. Six years later, Bresciani was named the PR director of the Red Sox, and in August 1987, he became vice president of public relations. In November 1996, his title changed again, as he became the organization's vice president of public affairs.
Currently, Bresciani is the Red Sox's vice president of publications and club historian.
His career with the Red Sox has been a dream come true.
"It's been a great experience," Bresciani said. "It's been 30 years, beginning with Mr. and Mrs. Yawkey. It's been an honor.
"We had great teams in the 1970s and 80s. Every year we've felt internally that we have a shot to win it. It's been a privilege to be there when so many good people have been there."
Bresciani admits that if he had not been a student volunteer with the UMass sports information office in the 1960s, his entire life may have turned out much differently.
"UMass did a lot for me, considering I came from a small town," Bresciani said. "It gave me direction in my life. It gave me options, athletically, academically and socially. It was a great experience."
Bresciani comes from a special era in UMass history.
"I feel primarily that I covered a lot of area in UMass sports, especially in the 1960s, led by Lederle [John W., former UMass President, 1960-70] and McGuirk," Bresciani said. "The University blossomed with new classrooms and new facilities. That era ended with the coming of Vietnam. It was a great time for athletics, though. We were really the only institution in New England when the 1970s came that had been in the top events."
Bresciani is not a stranger to awards or hall of fame inductions. He was a member of the first class that was inducted into the Cape Cod League's Hall of Fame in January, 2001. And on Feb. 8, 1998, Bresciani was honored with an "Award of Distinction" from the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association for "significant contributions to the development of the youth of the community."
Where does an induction into the UMass Hall of Fame rank on his list of accomplishments?
"This is number one in my eyes," Bresciani said. "It means so much. This is the school I went to. I started my career there. I love sports. UMass opened my eyes up to something else-Major League Baseball-something I dreamt about."
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