He was Captain of the Harvard football team, held that school’s record in the 220 yard dash for forty years and was a member of the Crimson Football Hall of Fame. He commanded a PT boat in the Pacific during World War II and won a Silver Star for bravery. He was elected a Massachusetts Congressman in 1954 and during the Cuban Missle Crisis in 1961, he was called to the White House to help his best friend, President John Kennedy deal with the crisis. Was there anything he wasn’t good at? Well according to former Amsterdam Rugmaker business manager Spencer Fitzgerald, Torbert “Torby” MacDonald had real trouble catching high fly balls, especially at night under the lights when he played in the outfield for the Class C Yankee affiliate back during the summers of 1940 and ’41. MacDonald’s Rugmaker manager, Eddie Sawyer concurred and even suggested that his Ivy League outfielder should have probably worn a helmet in the outfield because of his inability to track high fly balls. I came across both these observations about MacDonald in Amsterdam native David Pietrusza’s excellent book “Baseball’s Canadian-American League,”
MacDonald’s amazing life story began on June 6, 1916 when he was born in Everett, Massachusetts. He grew up in a middle class family. An outstanding student athlete, he was able to get himself into an exclusive prep school and then Harvard, where he roomed and played football with the future President, beginning an incredibly close friendship that would…
My complete birthday post for Torbert MacDonald will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. On June 30, 2016, I will also once again begin distributing an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that will include the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty people whose birthdays I will recognize each month. Each newsletter will also include an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.
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