A Masshole in Full

Charleston is a city where the men dress as if they might have to go golfing or drinking at a moment’s notice: polo shirts, pastel shorts, Croakies, flip-flops, with a nice seersucker suit in the closet for weddings. The city has an insular, fraternal feel; a place of old money and old southern history, of secret gardens behind secret gates.

Robbie dresses as if he might have to come off the bench for the Celtics. He wears a T-shirt and track pants every day, specifically the tear-away kind, in case he needs to strip down quickly (though it’s frequently been noted that he always keeps his sneakers and socks on). He’s 38 now, and after all those years in the minor leagues, where trouble-makers operated without the protection of face masks, his face is full of interesting furrows from countless stitches. His hairline is higher, and his curly hair is now cropped close to his head, but he’s still lean and ripped. A lot of people say he looks like Lance Armstrong. After nearly 14 years in Charleston, though, his attitude and accent are still the same, still very Robbie.

“The other day I was in the park with my dogs and I told this kid to pick up his dog shit,” he explained shortly after I arrived in town. “He flashed me the peace sign twice. So I smacked him twice. The cops came to my house. I don’t know how they knew where I lived. We had a little talk.”

I can tell you how they knew where he lived: Everyone in Charleston, from the debutantes to the homeless guys in the park (Robbie has learned all their names and gives them money and clothes), knows Robbie. “He’s a natural, larger-than-life entertainer,” says Andrew Savage, a bigtime Charleston attorney known for representing accused Al Qaeda operative Ali al-Marri (and occasionally Robbie, “for stuff that I usually deal with for clients between the ages of 15 and 20,” Savage says). Savage’s staid, wood-paneled law office looks like the setting for a John Grisham novel. It’s also the setting for a popular Robbie Concannon story: Once, in the middle of the day, he hopped onto a table to show a secretary “the difference between a man and a woman.” The display sent another employee, who is now an FBI agent, diving under a desk.

When I asked Robbie to help me understand why he’s always getting naked, he said, “It’s an impulse.” Then, impulsively, he got up and vanished. “If you spend an hour with Robbie, you only see him for 10 minutes,” says Brett Marietti, who was Robbie’s teammate and roommate during Robbie’s five years with the Stingrays. “Don’t ask me where he goes. We’d go to the mall and he would disappear, and then we’d walk by Old Navy and he’d be in the window wearing the mannequin’s clothes, or no clothes.” When I ask his family about the nudity, they have no explanation. “As far back as I can remember, he’s been naked,” says his brother, Brendan. “I’ve seen him naked more than I’ve seen myself naked.”

The only person you won’t hear Robbie Concannon stories from, it seems, is Robbie Concannon. A lot of this has to do with the fact that he rarely stays put long enough to be introspective. He’s antsy and hyperactive; his mother says he hasn’t sat still for an entire meal in his life. He makes about 100 phone calls a day, and they all last 20 seconds. To learn about Robbie, you have to talk to others.

When I asked Charlestonians to tell me their favorite Robbie Concannon story, I figured I’d hear stories of outlandish behavior that would reveal some conflict between the Boston wild man and this well-mannered city of belles. But what I heard surprised me. There were plenty of crazy Coocs tales, to be sure, but ultimately it was the subtler side of the classic Boston guy that won over his adopted hometown, it seems. “When he walks into a room, he’s going to know everyone by the time he leaves,” says David Plyler, who lived with Robbie for a couple of years (and who, according to Robbie, “dresses like a typical Charleston fuck”). “And if he doesn’t like you, he’s going to let you know. People liked that because he was so different.”

When Robbie was still playing hockey, there was a 15-year-old girl named Mandy Hill who absolutely loved him. She’d wait for him at his car after every home game to say hello. One night, she wasn’t there, and Robbie was worried. It turned out that earlier that day she’d been killed in a car accident. Robbie called her father and asked if there was anything he could do. The answer was yes: He wanted Mandy to be buried in Robbie’s jersey. Minor-leaguers don’t have extra uniforms, and so Robbie wore another number for a few games. In Charleston, this is everyone’s favorite Robbie Concannon story. When I talked about it with Robbie, his eyes welled up. Hockey had given him a great gift: a community who loved him for being him.

Late on my first night in Charleston, Robbie drove me across the city’s majestic new Cooper River bridge in the rain. He told me that his life was now centered on taking advantage of the opportunities he’d found here. He said he thought a lot about his father, who died two years ago, and of Mark Bavis, the guy who had talked him into coming to Charleston, and who had been on the second plane to hit the twin towers on September 11. He told me how, for the past year, he’s been going to church. He goes on Wednesdays, he said, because he can think clearer when it’s less crowded. “I want to be a better person,” he said as the rain beat down outside, making the night seem even darker. “I don’t want to be as fired up as I am. I don’t want to punch people in the park.” He went on. “It’s taken me forever, but I’m almost through with this book I saw on TV. It’s called Choosing Civility.”

  • Anonymous

    Great story about a good kid from Dorchester who made good. I laughed the whole time reading it .Should have more stories by this writer as he makes you feel the whole story.Captivating and entertaining do more with this Billy Baker .He has a knack for making you feel the story.

  • sandra

    He is my nephew and a great kid glad to see he is still crazy as ever. My sister Lorraine is a saint and I Love that kid. he always made family gathering funny and not boring

  • Kenny

    Growing up and getting to know Robbie and his Dorchester crew, this article is spot on. He was the ring leader, occassionally over the top, but always the one making people keel over laughing. Great article.

  • the general public

    for every one of the stories on how this guy is "bigger than life" or whatnot, there's probably about 10 from the other side. people who didn't know 'robbie' because he was just some random thug who pulled up in a car and beat them down because they happened to be walking home alone. people who didn't know him by name but only by him ruining their night to the delight of his other wasted, reckless clones who called him friend. i'm sure there are a large number of people who live in the non-insulated world of reality who are glad that he went to pasture in charleston. good riddance. all this article illustrates is that being a dick who likes to show his dick can make you a legend, just as long as you develop a big enough fan club along the way.

  • sandra

    I think that you missed the concept of the story It shows how people can change and make something out of life and himself. It is not all about him being a dick and having a fan club. It is about how he has grown up and making life work

  • Lorraine

    In reference to article "posted by the general public" Just what was expected as I read this article. There are those who loved him and those that hated him, there was no in between. He was a city kid whose address might have been Cedar Junction, Walpole or Cedar Grove Cemetery instead of Charleston, SC. I'm glad it's SC. Don't think Billy Baker was trying to portray him as a legend, you missed the point.

  • DJ

    I knew of Robbie when I was at BC High in the late 80's and watched him and Bosco win the whole thing at the garden when I was a Junior. Later at PC I got to know Robby personally and observed his antics firsthand many nights. The guy was a loveable lunatic just as this article portrays. Did he bust some jaws? Absolutely…but most of the time the guy or more likely guys he was fighting were looking for a fight….and he always gave it to them. Great to see he's having a great life in Charleston. Cheers Robbie! I'll drop into Trio if I ever make it down there.

  • scott

    good thing you didn't call me billy… I have pics to prove the nonsense… Cheesedoodle

  • Brian
  • Tom

    I played hockey against him both in College and the Minors and he was a very funny tough as nails kid. Would of loved to play on his team. Glad to see him doing well.

  • elbert

    'general public' why so bitter? did concannon fuck your girlfriend or slap you?

  • cara

    thats exactly what I was thinking that he either fucked your girl or beat the shit out of you

  • Mike

    Nice piece Billy. I'll never forget him doing naked pull ups (with skates on) in the UMass Boston locker room before a Bosco practice. Coach McHale walked in mid pullup and got a face full of Robbie's junk…Priceless

  • sarah

    General Public-here in Charleston we are more than happy he has landed here. Your loss- Our gain. Phenomenal article, this is the kid I remember from high school- his energy and ambition is more than welcome in Charleston.

  • brian

    Can't stop laughing!!!!!!!!!!!Was there for a lot. The world needs more people with a heart like Rob's. Great job Billy. South Boston.

  • Anonymous

    Great story Billy, I am happy to hear and see the pictures of Robbie and see he is doing good. The people who know him know he has a heart of gold and I am glad and know he will never chang,good for you Robbie ,See you if you come back home .

  • The

    Could some one please tell robbie Concannon there are no shower towels in the Steelheads locker room..

  • Brian

    Billy great work…..hope all is well. Connie long time…how've ya been brother?

  • Stephanie

    I have loved Robbie since the first time I met him.I believe that was at Jared Bednar's wedding……I didn't believe it when my husband told me he did not drink. My husband played hockey with him, and he has always been very kind to me. He was in our wedding, and if I can remember correctly…he didn't let us down that evening either as he ran naked through the parking lot of the reception. Whenever I talk about my wedding with friends of mine…they say "remember when your husband ran across the parking lot naked?"….I just laugh and say "oh that was Coocs". He has been a great friend to my husband and he has a huge heart……..love ya RobbieStephanie

  • Daniel

    I lived with Robbie in Charleston and we played on the same line. Don't let him fool ya as a tough guy, I had to protect him all the time on and off yhe ice. He'd be the first guy in though if anything happened and would drive you home late night no matter how far you lived since he was sober. Shocked a few Canadians at my wedding when he streaked the lot naked, Still calls routinely to see how things are and when I'm bringing the fam to town. We always have a place to stay but I never do cause i don't need my wife and kids seeing him naked. Great guy big heart!!

  • Anonymous

    What about Mason and Dixon those crazy mutts, they are part of the story.

  • Chuck

    I went to PC with Robbie and he was always a welcomed highlight at 100 Eaton street anytime of the day and always at night time. Every now and then I wonder what happened to Robbie after he left PC so it was a great thrill to read such an in-depth update on the infectious personality of the kid we called CoCo…Great Job Billy !

  • steve

    I just finished reading the Robbie C article and I am still smiling.Billy baker did a great job in describing Robbie in a way the made you feel like you knew him.I would have liked to see him doing some of his antics.His personality has taken him to a great place.

  • Paul

    Great article… General Public, you ever think that maybe you need to lighten up, buddy, seeing as you're the only person who had a negative thing to say???

  • Ashleigh

    I was at PC with Robbie, this article brought me back and couldn't stop laughing while reading it! Pretty sure I was at some of those parties when he was sans clothing. Happy to hear he is still making people laugh.

  • Keepit

    What a bunch of leeches. Why celebrate someone who define his night by getting in fights? Yeah, great hero. I bet the guy buying a sandwihc "deserved it" like some idiot commented. You folks fawn over him like a young girl and Miley Cyrus. Picture this a$$ in a bar where you're trying to have a good night. We've all been there and been disgusted by the egotistical insecure jerks who define their night by "bustin heads dude!" And the nudity is sorta questionable?

  • Donny

    I remember the Savin Hill Stickball Tourney when Robbie rode his bike into the middle of the courts naked in front of at least 100 people. One of the girls who didn't know him didn't like it so they had some words, her brother didn't like that so next thing you know they are going toe to toe and Robbie had nothing on…Played baseball and street hockey with Robbie in Savin Hill and always had fun times.

  • Anonymous

    I was on his hockey line at NMH, great player, funny, funny kid. My mom left a tin can of brownies as a care package and Connie Mac removed one and left a little present for my roomate and me. One of my favorite guys of all time -

  • Skippy

    I'm gonna be in the minority here with a few of the other posters, since this board is full of kiss-asses. It's too easy to pass off the many recipients of Concannon punches as guys "who deserved it," when in fact there were plenty of innocents who had a night ruined or worse so Rob could get some cheap laughs. He'd hit anyone who looked at him the wrong way, guy or gal, and he was a master of the sucker punch. I saw him throw a rock into a crowd of people in college because he thought it would be funny- he was known for brainless, reckless feats of idiocy. And while the nakedness is kinda funny in small doses, it has a way of getting old and offensive quick. You're lying if you say you'd let your sister or daughter date this chump. One more thing- no way this guy stopped drinking in his early 20s; you don't live cleanly for most of your adult life and look like that. He has the mug of a 55 year old- Keith Richards looks younger.

  • BuckRogers

    What a heart warming tale of a sensitive kid who gained some confidence through hockey and then made a life out of intimidating and bullying others. A two dollar thug.

  • jay

    In order to understand him you have to have grown up in the city in the 80's. Those of you who are offended I bet never ventured into Dorchester in 1988. Skippy I bet you have had your ass kicked many times. Rob Concannon was not perfect but he was a good man. I've known him my whole life and have watched him transform himself. This is a transformational story of hope that many kids in the city need to read.

  • Puffy

    A story about an egotistical punk who didn't land in jail. Not sure he deserves any more attention then what he has spent his whole life trying to get already. I guess I just didn't know him well enough.

  • Greg

    Went to Bosco with him, and he was a great guy. Glad he's doing well for himself. He could have gotten into trouble, but he turned out OK – as so many in that Bosco class could have.

  • fred

    I grew up in a Cambridge/Somerville and now live in DOT and thought this article was HYSTERICAL. I read it Sunday morning and haven’t laughed so hard reading an article in a long time. I grew up with some guys like this and also had friends who new people like this. Well done.

  • Frank

    Softball article that that seems entertaining now, an insulting attempt to tear at heart strings, but trust me, here's how it would go:

    An innocent kid or kids would be on the T or in a sub shop or a bar, and some punk would flip his baseball cap off, he'd go to pick it up, someone would kick it across the floor (these "tough" guys never traveled alone, always in packs), start tossing his cap around or kick him over while he tried to pick it up, then the runt of the gang would take a swing, and the minute he swung back they all jumped in and kicked your ass.

    Or you'd walk past them on a street and a rock or a beer bottle would come flying at you from behind…turn around, and you'd get the "what's your problem pu$$y boy," and with the protection of their "crew" you had no option but to walk (or run) away.

    The overwhelming "support" of the guy, is just the stupid "code" that prohibits anyone from crossing their own.

    The whole naked antics thing was just a way for him to see

  • Frank

    if someone had a problem with it, and when they did, they paid the price by getting ganged up by the spineless "crew." And trust me, if he pulled this many stunts, 99% of the time he hightailed it out of there just in time for someone else to get blamed.

    Just calling it as I saw it.

  • Dot Kid

    The only thing this article is missing is a mention of Robbie terrorizing Boston Cable Access TV call-in shows. He was always hilarious. Glad to hear he's doing well.

  • Richie

    I met Robbie in 1998 in Norfolk,Va before a Stingray/Admirals game.In the restaurant he went out of his way for my 3year old son. We still talk to each
    other and my family and I have visited and stayed with him,(never saw him naked,Thank God) Good hockey player but..a BETTER PERSON. Article was great.

  • Chris

    Did you ever hear the story down in Chinatown when a group of guys wanted to fight and we had just came from a Hockey game their was about 5 of us and 10 of them so we opened the trunk of the car and started to play hockey again right their in Chinatown, only thing we use them as pucks, good night no great night, or the night Conny came up to Dorchester from PC with two girls sisters and the two fought over him all night.. Conny wants knowing from no one just a laugh. God Bless

  • RC

    This article glorifies terrible behavior by a terrible example of a human being! He is a bi-polar prick who cheats on his wife any chance he gets. Rob also owns a bar called Trio Club. If you’re a girl and want to get sexually assaulted, Trio is your place. If you’re into drugs (especially cocaine) Trio is your place. If you want rude bartenders, nasty bathrooms and an owner whose a giant douche…Trio is your place. I hope he gets what he deserves. Rot in hell.

  • Guest

    I remember the Concannons from Dorchester. when we moved into St. Marks, their 4 year old pissed on my 3 year old daughter’s foot. oh yes,they were legendary….

  • Christine Maguire

    I remember the Concannons from Dorchester. when we moved into St. Marks from St. Brendan’s, their 4 year old pissed on my 3 year old daughter’s foot. oh yes,they were legendary….