St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame

 

 

 

 

 

Bio

Born 09/22/1922     Died 02/03/1983
Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio and went to Ohio State University
Served in US Army Dental Corps WWII

Doc Runco attended St. Louis University Dental School, met and married Rose Marie DiMaggio. He graduated from dental school in 1948 and while serving in the US Army, traveled to Colorado, Arizona, Texas and finally Scott Air Force Base. After his military career, Doc and the love of his life, Rose, settled in St Louis and started a family. It was at this time, he also started his dental practice. With his wife, he had three (3) children, Annette, Vincent and Frank. Their life remained relatively quiet until 1967.

The birth of the Blues stirred a passion throughout St Louis and the Runco family was no exception. In 1967, Milton attended his first NHL hockey game and by the end of the season, he owned four (4) tickets for the 1968 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Doc would remain a season ticket holder until his death. 1968 found youngest son, Frank, playing goal for the Webster Groves house team. By the 1970 season his son moved out of goal to play forward. Doc donned a pair of Baur Black Panthers and became an assistant coach known as "Flash". After coaching squirts and pee wees, the shots came harder, the players bigger and after a collision at practice, Doc's skates were retired and hung up. From that point, the coaching was from the bench and he evolved from "Flash" to "Doc" as he was affectionately known as until his passing.

Doc coached at Webster from 1970-1973. He also coached in the Blue Flame Program, as well as the Midget Blazers. He eventually teamed up again with fellow Hall of Famer Lou Struckman, HOF 2009, who he had known back from the early days in Webster. Coach Struckman and Doc would work together with the Junior "B" Brentwood Blazers from 1975 to 1982.

In 1977, Doc and Lou Struckman coached the Blazers to the first appearance for a St. Louis team at the US Hockey Jr. B National Championships in Rochester, NY. The program that they had built was so strong that they returned the following year to the National Championships.

When the Blazer program encountered financial difficulty and was in jeopardy, Doc organized an ownership group, consisting of himself, John Pauk, Bob Handelman and later, fellow Hall of Famer Jim Jost (2008), as well as others to keep the franchise afloat. As always, it was Doc's desire to ensure young men a place they could continue to play competitive ice hockey.

Doc's hockey career found him in the middle of numerous state titles, league and playoff championships as well as being known for possessing the "world's greatest backhand" in the Pupillo family street hockey games. One of the more colorful characters in amateur hockey, Doc became a fixture on the bench with his unforgettable hat, coat and lit cigars.

There was never a game in which Doc was involved where he wasn't seen dispensing gum and vitamin C tabs along with hockey wisdom for the officials, players and spectators. Doc also fabricated mouthguards for players, any player or team, free of charge and would yell at them when they didn't wear it!

Of all his accomplishments, Doc was most proud of the way his players, his boys, grew up and became contributing and committed members of the community both in and out of hockey.

Favorite quote: "Forwards are a dime a dozen, give me four good defensemen and a goalie and I will win you a championship!"