There’s something perfectly Boston about how the word “wicked” has been twisted into something good. Something strong.
My favorite guy at the Garden one day long ago kept yelling, “Howda ya like me now?” every time a Bruin crushed somebody into the boards.
I saw Michael Jordan play at TD Banknorth; Dennis Rodman got the loudest cheer during intros.
My favorite guy at Fenway Park one beautiful April day years ago watched the Red Sox pitcher hit a Yankee in the knee and, not satisfied, hollered “Hit ‘im in the face!”
Oh, to have been in the simulcast area at Suffolk Downs on Saturday.
Saratoga Race Course was wicked pissa, too, though, because Centennial Farms’ Wicked Strong won the Jim Dandy right in our face.
That means a few thousand dollars more will go to One Fund Boston, the charitable foundation that was set up last year by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
That was well over a year ago; perhaps we’ve moved on, but these people still need help.
They’re still learning how to use the prosthetic limbs that replaced the ones that were blown off. Skin grafting isn’t quick and easy.
That’s why people like Don Little Jr., president of the Beverly, Mass.-based Centennial Farms, continue to funnel money to One Fund, which collected over $63 million in the first 75 days after the bombings.
In Centennial Farms’ case, the conduit is their terrific racehorse, who carried not only Rajiv Maragh on Saturday, but a sense of responsibility.
Except for the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, when the rate was upped to 5 percent, 1 percent of Wicked Strong’s gross earnings go to One Fund. The Wood Memorial winner will have delivered about $27,000 to the charity since he started racing last September, after adding his Jim Dandy loot.
“Sports is a good way to help heal,” Little said. “It brings people together, and I truly believe the Red Sox would not have done what they did last year otherwise. It’s a major accomplishment, from last to first. The camaraderie in the clubhouse was phenomenal. It’s a team sport, and everybody needs to get along and pull together.
“It’s sort of like what we did with Wicked Strong.”
Shortly after the bombings, it occurred to Little to change the name of their Hard Spun colt from Moyne Spun to Boston Strong, but it already had been taken by New Hampshire-based Sovereign Stable, which has a similar donation deal with One Fund.
The Wicked Strong alternative occurred to Kim Jacobs, wife of Bruins principal owner Charlie Jacobs, while she was watching a Bruins-Tampa Bay Lightning game with Little’s wife, Holly, 10 days after the bombings.
“Kim piped right up and said the slogan should’ve been Wicked Strong in the first place,” Don Little said. “I actually got a call from my wife while they were at the game, and I got on the computer right away and put it through.”
The Littles and Jacobses are deeply involved in charitable work, so the One Fund/Wicked Strong idea soon followed.
“I called all the partners, and not one person balked, they all said yes,” Little said, “because a tragedy like that doesn’t just affect your hometown, it’s the whole country.”
Little heard about the bombings through an e-mail blast from the office of his friend, Jeff McCormick, who is currently running for governor as an Independent and was near the front of the group of runners who got stopped on the course.
“He was running and his family was 200 yards from where the bombs went off, so he sent his assistant in the office a message that ‘Everybody was OK’, and I was like, what is he talking about?” Little said. “I turned it on, and like everybody else was glued to the television pretty much for two days.”
It wasn’t until months later that Wicked Strong began racing, but there have been high expectations for this colt, and he’s living up to them this year.
When Wicked Strong ran in the Belmont Stakes, the Littles invited the family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, one of three spectators who died, and they were joined by Bruins forward Shawn Thornton and his wife.
Wicked Strong was fourth in the Derby and Belmont, but could’ve been barking “Howda ya like me now?” out of the corner of a wise-ass Boston smirk as he beat Belmont winner Tonalist by 21⁄4 lengths in the Jim Dandy.
Racing at Suffolk Downs is on life support because of the casino fight in Massachusetts, but “I’m sure the people were yelling and screaming a little bit, cheering him on,” Little said.
“I know we were.”