New York City– It all started innocently enough. Dominic Grecco saw a beer hat available at a Halloween store and thought it might be a nice novelty for the season. The Halloween season. A schoolmate at St. Bonaventure ,” dared me to wear it at a game ,” in Grecco’s words. Challenge accepted, a legend was soon born.
Grecco and his ‘beer hat’ have gained appreciable air time. The St. Bonaventure senior from Buffalo has been zoomed in by ESPN and CBS cameras as the telecasts break for a time out or want to show a crowd shot. It has gotten to the point that the business administration major is marketing his ‘Captain Beer’ shirts through Studio 4 East, a t-shirt store, in Allegany, New York.
Tuesday evening was Grecco’s initial trek for a basketball game inside the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’. It was halftime when we spoke. The Bonnies were down 15 at the break but the feeling among the fans, including the ‘captain’, Bona is a second half club used to coming back. Grecco, his head perspiring, was totally dialed in from his seat in the second row on the baseline. The perspiration, no doubt, due to the excitement of it all. “To be here for a game and see the Bonnies play,” he said, “is just amazing.” We spoke as schoolmates dropped by and a picture request or two was made and enthusiastically granted. He has celebrity status among Bona faithful yet remains very friendly and accommodating.
About a week earlier Grecco hoped to get to Charlottesville for the quarterfinal meeting with Virginia. He put a request on Twitter to secure a donation for gas money for the trip. Not long after reaching out, Bona alumni donated enough money to send eight carloads of students to Charlottesville. Gas, meals and hotel rooms included. Acting on that first request, after Bona defeated Virginia and punched its ticket to get to New York, alumni donated nearly $50,000 to fund ten buses to make the trip from campus to the Big Apple. Approximately 400 students were included in that number. Several hundred more made the trip on their own. Students and numerous alumni were transforming MSG into ‘Reilly Square Garden’. With ‘Captain Beer’ front and center.
“I’ve followed the team (on the road) in Charleston, Charlotte, (Washington) DC and Charlottesville,” Grecco explained. As the Bonnies proved true road warriors in the NIT, defeating Colorado, Oklahoma and Virginia away from home, Grecco followed the lead. “Call it Bona ‘grit’ and determination,” he said.
Earlier in the day, ‘Captain Beer’ took in the sights and sounds of New York. He posed for pictures with fans. Wearing Bona gear he delighted in total strangers on the street saying ‘go Bonnies’ or ‘good luck tonight’. He soaked it all in as a once in a lifetime experience. A perfect way for the season to conclude.
“To get to New York,” he added as teams warmed up minutes before the second half, “no one thought that could be possible. This whole experience following this team has just been great.” And memorable as well.