Merion and Me

Editorial director Hobart Rowland recalls his first time at Merion Cricket Club.

Six years ago, I risked life and limb to attend my first Merion Cricket Club event … well, sort of. 

A longtime member had invited me to join him for the club’s annual men’s dinner, but it wasn’t looking so good initially. An early-February snowstorm had dumped a few feet of snow on the Main Line, and I’d spent most of my day helping family members dig their way out. 

So, it was with reticence that I dusted off my tux, threw on a heavy overcoat and made my way east via a single plowed lane of Lancaster Avenue. As I puttered along, I wondered about the turnout on this icy, snowy, bone-chilling night.

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My skepticism was unfounded. As I ascended the grand stairway of the historic Haverford clubhouse, I was greeted by a busy pre-dinner cocktail hour in full swing. The atmosphere was downright festive as we gathered around a makeshift bar and indulged in shrimp, oysters and crab legs from an impressive appetizer spread. Later, there was perfectly cooked filet in the banquet room, followed by post-dinner gaming and, of course, cigars—my tux would need a serious dry cleaning.

So much for Old Man Winter.

Presiding over the event was Brian Crochiere, Merion’s board president at the time. It was the first time I’d seen Crochiere in about 25 years. A Haverford School grad, he’d spent much of his teens lifeguarding at Waynesborough Country Club, where my family had a tennis membership and I was a certified pool rat. 

I owe Crochiere much thanks for his help with our cover story marking Merion Cricket Club’s 150th birthday (page 48). Over lunch at the club, the two of us hashed out the details of this commemorative feature with MLT publisher JB Braun. Crochiere then took our proposal to the board, acquiring
approval and granting us access to the club’s extensive image library. 

The whole process took about a year, but it was well worth the wait. As senior writer J.F. Pirro so perceptively points out in his introduction to this month’s feature, Merion Cricket Club is a “quintessential” Main Line institution—one that has tightly woven itself into the cultural and historical fabric of our area. For the past 76 of its 150 years, it has managed to stay relevant without what many see as a necessity around here:
a golf course. 

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Tennis aficionados consider it a rare privilege to play on the club’s pristine lawn. I had my chance as a young team player, and I’ll never forget the dull skid of the ball on the grass or the amazing topspin I could muster. Maybe it wasn’t Wimbledon, but it’s as close as I’ll ever get.


Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!