John P. Grinold

On how he came to Northeastern in 1962:
“The PR director of the Boston Braves was a man by the name of Billy Sullivan. Billy Sullivan is the man that founded the then Boston Patriots…I called up Mr. Sullivan and asked him if he needed anyone to do anything. I stayed with the Patriots for the football season of ’60 and ’61. All of a sudden, the job here at Northeastern opened up in the spring of ’62. I snapped it up and on August 2, 1962 I entered the confines of Richards Hall never to leave again.”

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On the significant location of Northeastern’s campus in sports history:
“What was an open grounds up on Huntington Avenue was used for a multiplicity of things. It gets rented out by Connie Mack, the legendary Cornelius McGillicuddy, who owned the Philadelphia Athletics for about sixty years, and becomes the first home of the Boston Americans, the baseball team that we now know as the Boston Red Sox. That happens in 1901.”

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On baseball’s first modern World Series, played on what is now Northeastern’s campus:
“It was the Boston Americans, the American League team. The two leagues, of course, wouldn’t talk to each other for the first couple of years. The owner of the Pittsburgh team of the National League was quite a creative gentleman. He kept on suggesting through the year that we’re missing out on something; the end of the year we have our respective pennants but then we leave it all right there, so one of these days we should try to get together and see who is the true champion.”

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Jack Grinold with former men's crew head coach Walter "Buzz" Congram.

On “Nuf Ced” McGreevey, his Royal Rooters, and baseball in Boston:
“He had two saloons…Your local taverns back at the turn of the century played a much bigger role in the social structure of the community than we think of today. It would be your local tavern that would have a softball team, that might have an ice hockey team, that would arrange picnics and various outings.”

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On the growth of athletics at Northeastern and memorable games:
 “When I came here in 1962 there were eight sports, naturally they were all men. We now have 19 sports. Our athletes are from all over the world. We play all over the nation. I would say that the athletics have been a step ahead of the university in moving forward. We row in Europe. We produced 11 Olympians in crew, 2 Olympians in track. We’ve had people competing all over, everywhere.”

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Grinold at Matthews

Jack Grinold in Matthews Arena.

On being the first non-athlete or coach to be inducted into the Northeastern Hall of Fame:
“It meant a lot. I had been here a long time, and I was very proud that I would be considered to join those that I’d been working with, like Herb Gallagher and Joe Zabilski, our great football coach, and a number of others that I was very friendly with. It was great moment.”

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Hall of Fame

Jack Grinold at his induction into the NU Hall of Fame in 1985.

On his involvement in the founding of Northeastern’s crew team in 1965:
“One of the things I really had fun with over my career here was crew, the founding of crew in 1965. It’s been a very big part of my life. We had immediate success in 1965. Only a year previously, not one of those kids had ever seen a rowing shell!”

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On the annual Beanpot ice hockey tournament:
“It naturally grew from humble, humble origins right here at the arena. The house has been packed since the early Sixties. Automatically sells out. It’s part of our lore in the city, like the Marathon or several other things, the Head of the Charles now. Part of Boston lore; makes our city’s fabric all the more rich.”

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On establishing a charitable gift annuity at Northeastern and being a member the Frank Palmer Speare Society:
“My principle when I made my gift was to pay forward. It’s where I’ve been for 47 years. It’s my home, so what the heck. If people like I don’t support it, why should anybody support it?”

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Grinold at boathouse

Jack and Cathy Grinold, at right, with men's crew head coach John Pojednic and assistant coach Brogan Graham.

This interview is available in its entirety in the Northeastern University Archives. Photos: Carla Osberg Photography, Office of Alumni Relations, and the University Libraries Archives and Special Collections Department.

John "Jack" P. Grinold


John P. Grinold is known in many different circles by many different names - the De Facto Dean of New England Sports Information, Husky Sports Ambassador Nonpareil, the Voice of Northeastern, or just Jack - but whatever you call him, Jack is and has been a pillar of the Northeastern community for a long time.

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