Terrorizing Togo

guest post by the Sports Hayes

Recently tb727 made a reference to Tony Lavelli the accordion player but also brought up the fact that Togo Palazzi was the lone casualty of the 1957 Celtics. Who is Togo Palazzi? Good question.

Togo was a 6’4 forward/guard on the mid 50’s Celtics that played at Holy Cross with Tom Heinsohn. That’s where Togo began a career of being the butt of jokes. In 1955 Holy Cross led by Togo and Tom, were on the verge of the NCAA tournament. They needed to beat Notre Dame to get in. The game came down to the final shot with Holy Cross trailing. Togo had the ball on the baseline, he turned and shot…swish ….but wait! The referees waved off the shot and pointed to the fact HE WAS OUT OF BOUNDS WHEN HE SHOT IT! Notre Dame had won and Holy Cross didn’t make it. There was a consolation, Holy Cross made the NIT and won it all with Palazzi winning the MVP, but let that set the stage for his pro career. Tom Heinsohn certainly never let him hear the end of it for going out of bounds.

One of the biggest pranksters of the 1950’s Celtics was Frank Ramsey. He not only targeted Togo but Red himself, once switching the coaches short sizes before practice from either elephant sized to runway model on a daily basis. “Knock it off guys!” was Red’s only retort but he didn’t know exactly who it was. Togo also used to wear a Holy Cross T-shirt to Celtics practice.  Ramsey didn’t like that and one day burned it after the session.

As for Togo, he also had the misfortune of once having to wear a road jersey backwards and
Togo's jersey looked like this
someone elses' shorts when his uniform didn't arrive on time. Imagine that today, everyone’s in uniform from Jeff Green on down but there’s Marcus Smart with a backwards jersey and big floppy shorts.

Togo had many rituals one of which was being the last one out of the locker-room during practices and games. The prankster Ramsey struck again as one time before a game, he waited until everyone else had left and then locked the door on Togo. He spent 15 minutes banging on the door hoping someone would hear him, meanwhile on the court Red was looking around asking where the heck was Togo. Finally just before tipoff a janitor happened to stroll by and hear the banging, so he opened the door and was nearly trampled by Togo who made a gold medal sprint onto the court. Red seeing Togo’s hands all red and how out of breath he was could only laugh instead of get angry.

The coup di gras was when Ramsey struck again this time with the help of future Celtic Clyde Lovellette.  Before an exhibition game against the Minneapolis Lakers, Ramsey had Clyde (the Lakers center at the time) call the airport and ask for Ramsey. Once Ramsey answered, Clyde pretended to be the county sheriff of Hibbing, Minnesota (hometown of Kevin McHale) to notify Palazzi he was under arrest for harassing a female at the hotel bar the night before. Ramsey then had the airport front desk page Palazzi and say a law officer was there to see him. Togo then beat a hasty retreat for the plane and breathed a momentary sigh of relief. Then Ramsey got the pilot in on it and while the plane was in the air, the pilot went on the intercom to proclaim the police would be waiting for Togo when the plane landed. By then Palazzi had freaked completely out and Red (who was in on it) finally showed mercy by letting Togo know it was all a joke.

He was only on the team a few years but between getting locked in the locker-room, wearing a uniform backwards and nearly having a heart attack on an airplane, at least he deserved a share of the 1957 NBA Finals purse. Poor Togo…..