Posted by Bob Cassidy on Nov 25, 2018
Each year, the Bedford and Concord Rotary Clubs get together for a football luncheon. One year it is held in Bedford, the next year it is held in Concord. The 2018 luncheon was held in Bedford, and featured a one-of-a-kind speaker: Bedford's own Mike Rosenberg, who has attended 35 years of Thanksgiving football games. He offered a window into his sports-writing technique and reminded us all about what high school sports are all about ...
As this bulletin is being written there is a group of about 100 athletes on Arman Sabourin football field in Bedford adding to a legacy that has been building for decades. They are being cheered on by a faithful following of parents, relatives, friends, classmates, and hopefully hundreds if not thousands of football fanatics hoping for a victory to add to what they are thankful for this year.
Each year, the Bedford and Concord Rotary Clubs get together for a football luncheon. One year it is held in Bedford, the next year it is held in Concord. It has gone back and forth like this since 1981. Each year a wager has been made by each club president ($20) as to who’s football team will win the game. Nobody ever really looses because the wagers are donated to The Rotary Foundation in the name of the club that wins the game.
Equally as important is the camaraderie this annual luncheon has built up between the two clubs over the past 37 years and the speakers that have, one by one, passed through these meeting rooms. For most of those years (and I have been around for one hell-of-a-lot of them) the speakers have always focused on sending a message to the student athletes on both teams. As someone once told me “it’s not about us (the Rotarians), it’s about the kids!” How right he was, and still is. There have been some noteworthy speakers at the luncheons over the years like NFL hall-of-famer John Hannah, Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino, and other football professionals like Ted Johnson, Fred Smerlas, and Steve Grogan. There have also been a number of New England college coaches on the dais, and a few locally famous sports writers too.
This year it was a little different, the chosen speaker was a local guy, someone probably not known at all outside the Boston Metropolitan area, and he delivered one of the best set of comments I’ve heard at one of these luncheons. It was none other than Bedford’s own Michael Rosenberg. Why? Because he spoke from a love of Bedford, a love of football, and a genuine love of the young men that have, and are still playing on both of these teams; and it was obvious!
Rumor says it was Mike who started the whole luncheon thing back in 1981. Growing out of an already existing thanksgiving luncheon he had been observing between the Lexington and Burlington clubs. Mike has been broadcasting Bedford’s games for decades and writing about them for even longer. It was Mike that used to organize the bonfire at the pep rallies the day before the “big game.” Sort of like the Yankees and Red Sox, it didn’t matter what your record was as long as you did good on Thanksgiving Day.
Mike shared many of his memories with us Tuesday, but two of them formed his message to the young folks gathered at the Doubletree that day:
  • The first centered around the articles he has written over the years, but the message was not in what he wrote, rather it was in HOW he wrote them. For sure he wanted to get his facts correct so he would write down each offensive play and the players jersey number, but he also wanted the story to be complete. He felt the defensive players never got the credit they deserve because their numbers were not the “offensive playmakers numbers” you ordinarily see and hear. Consequently their names were left out of many articles. This seemed unfair to Mike because that one spectacular defensive play may be the only really good play that individual made during the whole season only to have it left out of the article because nobody could recall who made it. To combat this Mike would always retain the services of someone who would write down only the defensive plays and those players numbers so he could put them into his articles too. That says a lot about Mike. Do you think it made a difference to someone, at some time? I do!
  • The second part of Mike’s message goes back to 1990 and involved a young player by the name of Chris Midgett. Bedford sported a perfect record that year … 0 – 10. That’s right: They lost every game. If you have played any team sport you know what you see on the field of play is only the icing on the cake. The character, the bonding of the players takes place in the practices and in the locker room. Chris wasn’t a spectacular player, but he was a vital part of the “team” that stuck together through all the turmoil an 0 – 10 record can bring with it. Four years later Chris was shot and killed hundreds of miles away. He was the unknowing victim of a drive-by shooting. You might think something like this would never make it all the way back to Bedford MA, but it did! It made its way back to his teammates from that 0 – 10 record four years earlier. In his name his teammates raised the money needed for a memorial to Chris which stood at Sabourin field for over 20 years until it just wore out. This year those teammates raised the money again to rebuild and rededicate the memorial this thanksgiving. That act of kindness and memory speaks directly to the bond those young men had formed with one-another and directly to the bond many teammates develop to one another in all team sports, regardless of their won/loss record.
Do you think Mike’s message reached this group of young men and women? I do! Thanks Mike, that’s why we love you!!!
See more photos of the 2018 Thanksgiving Lunch and the Midgett Fountain rededication at The Bedford Citizen.