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American League 1940s Great Team Replay
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League News

Hi Everyone-

As you probably already know, Burnie has informed us of the passing of the Head Polar Bear, John Bushey.  It is truly a sad day for the NSL and for all of us who knew him.

John had some heart problems over the last 6 months or so and recently spent an extended time in New Hampshire hospitals.  He had returned home finally in November, but was not strong enough to get out and do anything which frustrated him quite a bit.  As Burnie and Dave will tell you when they went to play John and they went out to lunch or something, it seemed that the entire community knew John and came up to talk to him.  I talked with John 2 weeks ago and he let me know that he would not be able to play in the league this year, but I assured him there would always be a place for him if he reconsidered.  But, sadly, John left us before that could happen.  We will all miss him.

John joined the NSL in 1984 as the White Mountain Polar Bears.  After 5 years he left, but came back in with the Canaan Polar Bears in 2003.  It was then that the familiar “Head Polar Bear” and “God Bless from all the Polar Bears” became household phrases.  He managed his team as his own, hitting and running when others wouldn’t and pinch hitting on a hunch.  But John absolutely adored the game and playing games- which would often take 2-3 days as he pondered his next managerial decision.  He had some poor clubs in the league, but was building for the future in a positive way.

I first met John in 1984 on a visit to the Northeast Kingdom.  John was a very good friend of Marc Delaricheliere who owned a farm in Vermont, and the first day I got there for my visit I can remember Marc being very busy and John taking an entire day to show me around the farm and how the dairy farm actually functioned.  We had a great time and John was so accommodating which I’ll always remember him for.  That night the entire Vermont contingent went out to dinner and hearing John and Marc just go at it with jokes and put downs that we were mostly in tears from laughter.  John could hold up to Marc’s dry humor and could trade punches with the best of them.

Whenever John would call the house and Dayna would answer it would always be the same.  “Do you know who this is?” with a heavy accent not from around here.  Dayna would always say “Hi John” without hesitation, and on we would go.

We’ll never forget John and Si in the farmhouse at the winter meetings trading players to each other who they hadn’t acquired from each other yet.  But there they were, Si rolling with laughter trying to explain to John that George Brett was still a First Cap even though John- stoic as ever- had him in the White Mountain pile, so he had to have been a Polar Bear.

One of the early league meetings pictures shows John in York with the NSL trophy in hand next to my wife- a classic shot that hopefully we’ll get up on the web page again someday soon.

Later in life John didn’t get out an awful lot and played most of his games solo, except those times Burnie and Dave would make the trip over to West Stewartstown.  When they played face to face it was an epic, John making his decisions in a non rushed fashion and the Burnhams wondering when they’d get home (like in this month).  But it was what we’ve become in the league- friendships and commodore, with the games our side light.

The league will send something to the family when we know more of the details.  Please join me today, tonight, or whenever to remember the Head Polar Bear, and indeed, God bless him and his wife, Oilvia.

Rich Pray
Commissioner, NSL