If you don’t know the name Ernie DiGregorio, you are definitely not a true Vo Dilunder.
Just voted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame, Ernie D. should have been selected before he ever left Providence College and headed to the NBA, where he was voted Rookie of the Year. He was the beloved son of Nawt Prov and, along with South Prov’s Marvin Barnes, another local legend, was at the heart of one of PC’s greatest teams in history in the early 1970s. If not for Marvin being injured in the NCAA semifinals against Memphis State, the Friars had a great shot at winning it all, even against the invincible UCLA, the eventual champs.
A corollary benefit was that PC had begun playing their games at the brandy new Civic Center in 1973, filling its 12,000 seats with fans there to see the Marvin and Ernie Show, and put what is now The Dunk on the national basketball map as a premier showcase.
Ernie D. was short and a little pudgy, and looked about as much of a local basketball idol as your mailman. But he was one of flashiest and highest scoring players of his era, who could make a basketball do tricks. His iconic play came when he threw a length-of-the-court, behind-the-back pass to his streaking teammate Kevin Stacom, another terrific PC player, for a layup. Stacom also played for the Boston Celtics, and would have been the lodestar in any other program. Ernie D. was the archetypal gym rat, and was a deadly shooter as well as a ridiculous passer.
Ernie’s fame in Little Rhody was such that even years after his graduation, Phillipe and Jorge would amuse themselves when waiting in line at a restaurant by loudly saying, “Hey, there’s Ernie D.!” and watching the heads of everyone in earshot swivel looking for the saint of La Prov. If they ever have a statue built outside The Dunk honoring its history and heroes, it should be of Ernie D. shooting a jumper, and it should squeeze in Marvin pulling down a rebound.
Kudos and Congrats
A tip of the beret and sombrero to Providence’s Downtown Design Review Committee for voting unanimously to recommend the I-195 Redevelopment Commission reject the proposal for the ludicrous Hope Point Tower, an atrocity that would stand out like a sore thumb in Our Little Towne due to its extreme height and overall design. This garish affront to good taste by New York developer Jason Fane was preposterously being called Providence’s Eiffel Tower, but the Awful Tower would be closer to the truth.
We suggest Jason Fane & Co. go back to the drawing board and come up with a design that befits an historic state capital, and not a background for “The Jetsons.”
Bizarre Juxtapositions in the Biggest Little
A spate of stories a few weeks back about specialty license plates in RI leads P&J to believe that Vo Dilunders’ obsession with license plates may have finally hit its peak. This photo of an automobile seen recently parked in front of Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket would be exhibit A.
Phillipe lost a good friend and golf companion with the recent passing of Rico Vecchio. A very generous and caring man, his booming voice commanded the Jamestown Golf Course and clubhouse as he provoked shouting matches and loud, but good-hearted, arguments.
He grew up in Providence’s Silver Lake district and was a barber for decades. He loved his ballroom dancing as much as his golf, engaging in both into his 80s, and he was a true Rhode Island character. He leaves behind many, many friends and many, many memories. We’ll toast you with a Sambuca, Rico. Salud.