Jack Herrick passed away this week at eighty-four.
The morning he died, I wrote up three different obits—Jack was a legendary leader in three distinct squash bailiwicks (US Squash, Jesters and Dartmouth Squash). Jack was an abiding friend, collaborator and predecessor for me in those realms and beyond. I was close with his children while in college and close with Jack ever since. Year after year, we would end up in long conversations at tournaments around the U.S. (Jack always had a box at the Tournament of Champions that was always filled with squash luminaries) and around the world. I got to stay at his house in Cleveland. I got to spend time with an absolute gem of a guy.
His death now closes a chapter on one enduring, if entirely unimportant mystery: who was he in college? Jack was a class of 1960 at Dartmouth, a member of the tennis and squash team. He was also a member of Alpha Delta Phi. When he was a senior, a freshman named Chris Miller joined the fraternity. A decade and a half later, Miller wrote articles in National Lampoon and then co-wrote the screenplay for Animal House. The articles and the film were based on Miller’s days at Dartmouth and his AD brothers. There was a real Otter, a real Flounder, a real Bluto (but he was in another fraternity); Miller’s nickname was Pinto. An AD named Turnip was the one who originally showed up at a women’s college pretending to be the fiancé of a recently deceased student. There was also guys nicknamed Doberman, Seal, Rat, Hardbar, Dumptruck, Hydrant, Giraffe, Magpie, Coyote, Abby, Rhesus Monkey, Froggie, Poz, Hardbar, Huck Doody, Moses, Doberman, Gazork and Mouse.
Who was Jack? He never bragged about being portrayed in Animal House but he admitted that he—or something he had done—had made it directly into the film. Chris Miller surely mentions Jack in his 2006 memoir of AD, The Real Animal House: The Awesomely Depraved Saga of the Fraternity That Inspired the Movie. But now we’ll never know which one he was. It is a good mystery to have as we say farewell to our old friend.