Down Memory Lane - Herbie Delmonico
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
He was an active youngster but, at the age of five, he lost the sight of one eye.
When he reached him teens, he wanted to play lacrosse. The nagging thought though, was that he could be struck in his good eye by and errant stick or a ball. No problem - stick him in goal.
Despite the fact that he lacked depth perception, the youth nicknamed Herbie became one of the top netminders in box lacrosse, eventually entering the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Frederick Irwin Delmonico was born October 22, 1918, the son of sportsman . Raised in a large house at Locarno Beach in Vancouver's West Point Grey district, the homestead was a natural meeting spot for the neighbourhood youngsters.
One day in 1935, the senior Delmonico and some local fathers purchased bundles of lacrosse sticks which they sold to the kids for 35 cents a piece. A juvenile team was formed with the one-eyed Herbie relegated to the "safety" of the goal. Herbie was an immediate success - so much so that his younger brothers, Norm and Ron, also took up netminding chores.
It was a scrappy team that included five -foot-two , , , and the captain, . In 1936, the Locarno boys captured the provincial Juvenile "A" championship. The following year, with his team now in Junior company, Herbie's performance was good enough to get him a two-game call up with the Richmond senior club and to have Bluebirds add him to its lineup in quest of the first Canadian Junior title. All of this in just his third year of lacrosse. Herbie and his Locarno buddies, bolstered by several Richmond players, contested the Minto Cup in 1938 but fell victim to the powerful Mimico unit.
Herbie then began a 170-game, nine-year senior career in which he blocked 3,910 of 6,190 shots fired his way, a 64.8 shot-saved percent average. He made only one more bid for a national title, losing three games to two to St. Catharines in the 1941 Mann Cup series.
Herbie was out of lacrosse from 1949to 1965 - other than watching brother Ron toil for the Vancouver and New Westminster senior teams -when he returned to help coach a newly formed Senior "B" team in Mission, east of Vancouver. Over the next few years, even after he passed the 60-age mark, Herbie could be seen donning his old pads to show Mission youngster the tricks of the tricks of the lacrosse trade.
The senior Delmonico was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a Builder in 1974; Herbie joined him in the Players category five years later.