August 11, 2005

Postcard: Who is Larry Twombly?

Horatio Alger couldn’t have written a better story about the life of Larry Twombly. It’s so good – a former hockey standout at Harvard who now presides as CEO of the growing California-based beverage company he founded last year – it appeared in Monday’s edition of USA Today.

Great story. But much of it, particularly the information regarding his hockey career, is untrue.

Hello, Larry

Read the full story from Monday's USA Today about Larry Twombly and his company, Hat Trick Beverage, here. Early Thursday morning, the newspaper ran a follow-up report addressing Twombly's claims.

When the story ran in the multi-color earlier this week, it sent me to the archives to find out more about this guy – the son of a New Hampshire truck driver who was drafted by the Boston Bruins and, by earning an invitation to play for the Crimson, the first member of his family to attend college. Despite being involved in a horrific motorcycle accident as a freshman that pulverized his leg, he returned to the Harvard team, and spent time in the minor leagues with the Maine Mariners and Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and the International Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls after graduation.

First stop: HockeyDB (, the massive statistics database which is to hockey history what The Weather Channel is to hurricane coverage. The first search, using Twombly’s last name, turned up nothing. For the second search, I entered just the first three letters of his last name. Nope. We tried using the letters “T-r-o”. Uh-uh.

Time for Plan B: Delving into HockeyDB’s vault of team statistics. Just to be sure, the INCH staff searched each of Harvard’s final stats sheets from the 1980’s. No luck. Then we checked old Maine Mariners numbers. Not there, either. Our search of San Diego Gulls statistics was fruitless, too. We investigated the Providence Bruins’ history – pretty easy since they’ve only been around since 1992. No sign of Twombly. On the Baby Bruins’ official site, he’s not listed among the franchise’s alums.

On to Plan C, which probably should’ve been Plan B, but I digress. If he was drafted by the Bruins, Twombly’s name would be in the team’s media guide. Granted, my copy is a little dated – three years old – but he doesn’t show up in the B’s draft history. A breeze through the 2005 NHL Draft Guide was also unsuccessful.

Finally, Plan D: Rummaging through the official Web site of Harvard athletics. A document on the men’s ice hockey page detailing the program’s past letterwinners doesn’t mention Larry Twombly. Nor is he listed among the Crimson players taken in the NHL Draft.

It sure looks like Twombly hoodwinked USA Today, but it’s not the first time he’s alluded to a hockey career in print. A Google search turns up references to past playing days ranging from the San Diego Union-Tribune to a number of stock analysis Web sites.

So the guy fabricated a hockey history. Big deal, right? He runs a growing company – Hat Trick Beverage’s stock peaked at 7.5 cents per share Wednesday after opening at one cent Monday morning, the day the article came out. Approximately 7.5 million shares have moved this week, not bad for an outfit that had only traded more than a million shares twice since going public in December. Must be that international business degree Twombly earned from Harvard in 1988, eh?

Uh, wait a second. In Cambridge, supposed classmates and teammates were left questioning their memories – something we expect Harvard alums don't do often. INCH couldn’t find anyone who could remember Twombly, and a glance at an alumni directory came up empty as well.

We wondered, Is USA Today aware of all this? I e-mailed Stephanie Armour, who wrote the story, Wednesday afternoon. About an hour or so later, she called me and said that, indeed, they'd found similar discrepencies.

I abandoned the CSI approach and found a phone number for Hat Trick Beverages via Google, hoping to speak directly to the source. Our optimism soared, buoyed by a quote in the USA Today feature in which Twombly says he “has his phone number on everything” and takes his own calls.

Not long after dialing, I was greeted by Larry Twombly…and his voice mail message. After the tone, I explained who I was, that I saw the USA Today piece and wanted to ask him a few questions about his playing career.

Twombly hasn’t called back, which is kind of a surprise. On his voice mail, he said he’d get right back to me. No fooling.

– Mike Eidelbes

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