Sports 06-02-2011

Help keep me in the “loop”

If a parent has any info/photo of their child participating in a sports or recreational activity (elementary school, high school, college, or otherwise), please E-Mail me at [email protected] and I will be sure to include the info/photo in a column.  I’d also love to hear about any honor roll students or scholar athletes, or just about any story which would recognize the accomplishments of past and present “Townies.”

“Townie” sports update

At the St. Clement High School sports banquet, hockey player Sean Wrenn was recognized as the first-ever seventh grader to be voted to the Catholic Central League All Star team.  Sean was also selected as his team’s Most Improved Player.  Other “Townies” receiving athletic certificates were Joe Codair (baseball, football, hockey), Brennis Scales (hockey), Conor Sullivan (hockey, football), Kevin Flanagan (hockey), Alex Watson (hockey), Daniel Settipani (hockey, baseball) and Nick Codair (football, hockey).

Little League news

Sahdat Arroyo (2 hits, 3 RBIs) belted his second homer of the season and Aiden Kelly flashed some serious leather at second base as Jenny’s Pizza ran roughshod over McCarthy’s Liquors.  Winning pitcher Sean Wrenn (3 hits, 2 runs), Hughie O’Donnell (3 hits, 3 RBIs) and Nolan Doherty (2 hits, 2 runs) also swung hot bats…Joseph Bova (3 hits, grand slam) and Teto Santaniello (2-run homer) had their Eagle Elevator team on the brink of a tremendous come-from-behind victory but Knights of Columbus standout Jack Adduci blasted a clutch bases-loaded single for the walk-off win.


Teamsters Local 25            10-1

Jenny’s Pizza                        7-2

McCarthy’s Liquors            3-5

Cronin Club                          1-7

Boys & Girls Club                1-7



(3 decisions)

Anthony Bolger   3-0

Jake Scanlon                        3-0

Michael Ward      3-0

Sahdat Arroyo     2-2



Jake Scanlon                        6

Hughie O’Donnell                4

Michael Ward      4                              Daniel Settipani   2

Sahdat Arroyo     2



Century 21            6-2

99 Restaurant      5-2

CHAD                    5-3

Knights of Columbus 2-5

Eagle Elevator      1-7



Jason Smith                          4

Jared Burhoe                        2

The “Neck”

Growing up through the 1960’s and 1970’s, “The Neck” became my second home during the spring and summer months; my dad took me and my older brother Denny there most every day to learn and practice all things baseball.  My father spent a considerable amount of time at “The Neck” too, first playing “scrub” with his brothers and friends in the 1930’s, then as an All-City third baseman for Charlestown High School in the 1940’s, and later as a Boston Park League Hall of Famer for both the Charlestown Cardinals and Charlestown Hawks during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Originally established in 1891 as Charlestown Playground, the field was re-named Ryan Playground in a 1942 dedication ceremony honoring John J. Ryan, a serviceman killed during World War II.  Locally, most “Townies” affectionately know the location as “The Neck.”  Through the years, Ryan Playground has undergone an incredible transformation and is today regarded as one of the elite playing fields in the region.

Such was not the case when I was a kid.  When Denny and I were the bat boys for our dad’s Charlestown Hawks team, the rest room consisted of the first-base-side elm tree; the clubhouse was padlocked and the entrance door rusted shut.  Sitting on the dilapidated third-base-side bleachers inevitably led to painful shards (they were too big to be called splinters) and you could count on one hand the number of weeks the concrete water fountain functioned properly.

As a player, sliding onto the hardened, gravelly ground surrounding each base usually produced a saucer-sized “raspberry,” and the first baseman was required to look directly into the sun when fielding throws at dusk from the third-base side of the infield.  Also, the monstrous concrete wall located down the left-field line in foul territory (allegedly used for handball and surrounded by a chain-link fence), served as an obstacle for the left-fielder to crash into when tracking a fly ball.

Of all the safety hazards unique to “The Neck,” however, none compared to the drool-inducing, chocolate aroma which wafted from the Schrafft’s Building.  Asking a youngster to focus on playing baseball while inhaling the insatiable cocoa derivative is akin to asking your child to not play video games – it just can’t be done.  I can recall an ear-whizzing line drive (or two) snapping me back to reality after losing myself into a chocolate daydream during the middle of a baseball game.

While baseball has continued to be played through the years at Ryan Playground, a group of dedicated “Townies” initiated the field’s incredible transformation.  The legendary “Coach” Curtin got the ball rolling in the 1970’s with upgrades to the clubhouse and Little League field, but it was Eddie and “Sissy” Greteroux who were primarily responsible during the 1980’s and 1990’s for creating a more serviceable building; complete with meeting rooms, storage space and functional rest rooms.  Mayor Tom Menino even held a dedication ceremony recognizing their efforts, and an “Eddie and Sissy Greteroux Clubhouse” placard is posted at the entrance door.

For the past decade and with little fanfare, however, Little League executives Dave and Sharlene Cahill have taken “picking up the ball and running with it” to a new level.  With help from a core of dedicated volunteers, they have established “The Neck” as one of the finest baseball facilities not just in Boston, but in New England.  What they have achieved during their tenure is the result of extraordinary manual labor, an ever-evolving vision for youth baseball, an innate sense of community pride, and an unmatched passion for “getting things done.”

Today, “The Neck” is considered one of the region’s most desirable locations to play baseball and athletic programs of all levels compete for its services.  Even “cricket” players and Segway polo enthusiasts utilize the facilities.  If you haven’t already, bring a lounge chair, head to the field on a warm summer night, and watch some of Charlestown’s future baseball stars compete “under the lights.”

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