A Masshole in Full

Trio Club is on Marion Square, a large park that’s kind of like Charleston’s version of Boston Common. The club has two levels—first floor has live music, second floor has a DJ—and in a city that takes its nightlife seriously, it’s routinely described as the bar. A year ago, Robbie bought a half-ownership stake. After retiring from hockey in 2003, he’d bounced around for a little bit, struggling with that athlete’s transition when the limelight fades, when he has to stop staying out late with the boys and instead has to get up with the men. Robbie was a fireman for six months, but quit because he was going nuts sitting around waiting for action. Then he got into real estate and did well enough (despite showing houses in sweatpants and a T-shirt) to buy and renovate an elegant two-bedroom loft overlooking fashionable King Street. But since the market tanked, he’s been focusing on his bar. He’d been a bartender at Trio for a while, and when he inquired about acquiring a piece of it, the owner, Andy Selent, was skeptical. “People would say to me, ‘Coocs is a good hockey player and he knows everyone, but what does he know about running a business?’” says Selent. “Since he took over, business has been up 50 percent. Now I just stay out of his way.”

Watching Robbie behind the bar, you see him in his element. Bartending is a series of micro-encounters, which fits his attention span perfectly. He’ll bust balls, serve drinks like a maniac, down leftover Red Bull, go and go and go. He’s been known to vacuum the club in his underwear, or take a ladder out to the middle of the packed dance floor and start changing the light bulbs.

He’s also become legendary for his tactics in dealing with the drunken “birdbrains who think they’re hot shit,” as he says. If there’s trouble, he’ll hop over the bar and pull his go-to move, grabbing the guy and ripping the pocket right off his dress shirt. “You wouldn’t believe how perfectly it comes off,” says Patrick Sullivan, who’s tended bar with Robbie for years. “He should have them hanging on his wall like a hunter has horns.”

If some bigshot comes in and runs up a $250 bar tab and then leaves a $10 tip, Robbie will follow him outside and return the tip, in his face. For Charlestonians, this is Coocs at his most endearing. “In his world, he’s the police for the bad guys,” said Brian King, who works in a clothing store on King Street where Robbie goes to rib the seersucker set. (King, incidentally, wants it noted for the record that he lived with Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead in Oregon in the summer of ’68, and says Robbie definitely stacks up against the big personalities he’s known in his life.)

Chantel Fitzsimmons, the wife of one of Robbie’s former teammates, Jason Fitzsimmons, gets emotional remembering how she was at the bar once and some guy was messing with her. Robbie jumped over, and this time ripped the man’s whole shirt clean off. “It made my heart swell, just knowing he had my back,” she says.

This is a piece of Robbie that’s always been there, though perhaps it was obscured by his antics. When he was growing up, he was often the smallest kid, the last picked for the game. His mother says he was very, very sensitive. So he forged a reputation in the only way he could: He became a scrapper, someone who wouldn’t back down, who always stood up for himself and took care of his friends. Even when he was drinking, he’d brawl all night, spend the early morning in the ER getting stitches, then go straight to the North End to bathe his uncle, who has cerebral palsy. (Robbie would often get naked himself, his way of trying to keep things from getting awkward.) In Charleston, it seems fair to say, he’s felt free to fully be himself, maybe in ways he wouldn’t or couldn’t back home.

“When people think about Robbie, it’s just this crazy, crazy guy. But deep down, he does it because he just wants everyone to be happy,” says his sister-in-law, Holly Concannon. “The day of my father’s funeral, it must have snowed 10 inches. After the funeral, Robbie drove my mother and me home. And he starts doing doughnuts in the parking lot. Here’s my mother, who just buried her husband, and she’s dying laughing.”

  • 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….