Sports 04-07-2011

“Nana’s Angels” fundraiser

On Saturday, April 30, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, Team “Nana’s Angels” will hold a fundraiser to benefit the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  This is the fourth consecutive year Team “Nana’s Angels” will participate in the Avon Walk and, with the help of the Charlestown community, have provided over $100,000 toward breast cancer research.  Tickets are $20 per person and attendees will be able to purchase T-shirts, hats and raffles.

Entertainment for the fundraiser, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be provided by critically acclaimed Irish Rebel Band “Erin Og,” and tables may be reserved in advance.  For further information, please contact Pauline Carrier at 617-241-5131 (or [email protected]), or Ann Marie Kelly at 617-241-0986.

“Townie” high school all stars

Congratulations to Malden Catholic junior standout Brendan Collier who was selected as a 2011 Boston Globe All-Scholastic.  Collier, who netted 30 goals, helped his team capture the “Super 8” championship by scoring the game-winning overtime goal.  Brendan is also a member of the National Honor Society and has committed to attending Boston University.

Also achieving All-Scholastic selection is Charlestown High School basketball sensation Akosa Maduegbunam.  The junior guard, an honor roll student, has been a Boston City League All Star the last two seasons and averaged 23 points and 8 rebounds per game in leading his team to a 21-3 record.

Reaching ISL Prep School All Scholastic status was Eberhart League Player of the Year Michael Doherty.  A Groton School varsity player since the eighth grade, Doherty notched 28 goals and 27 assists this year and totaled 105 points for his career.  Mike has committed to attending Yale.

Congratulations go out to all of the following “Townie” All Stars: Christopher Dowdell, Charlestown (basketball); Conal Lynch, Boston Latin (hockey); Rony Fernandes, Charlestown (basketball); Colby Cahill, Latin Academy (swimming); Ryan DeRosa, Latin Academy (hockey); Julia Caldwell, Boston Latin (hockey); Alyssa Sullivan, Arlington Catholic (hockey); Kayla DeRosa, Latin Academy (hockey); Bevin Donovan, Latin Academy (hockey); Sara Centeio, Charlestown (basketball); Sean O’Halloran, East Boston (hockey); Makeeba Farguarson, Charlestown (basketball); Joe Sodergren, Shawsheen (hockey); Sharlika Hudson, Charlestown (basketball).

Don’t be “left out” of Little League draft

For those who haven’t already done so, it is urged that players interested in participating in the Charlestown Little League program register as soon as possible.  The coaches will be holding their annual draft this week and only registered players will be eligible for selection to the teams. Also, the deadline for Senior League (ages 13-16) registration is April 12.  Registration forms can be printed from the Charlestown Little League website at WWW.LEAGUELINEUP.COM/CHARLESTOWN-L-L.    Anyone who still has last year’s team uniform, or an all-star uniform, may return them to their coaches.  Those who are interested in coaching or volunteering in the Little League program should also fill out a Volunteer Form as soon as possible.  For further information, please contact Dave or Sharlene Cahill at 617-242-5564.

Bobby D. anniversary Mass

The first Anniversary Mass for Bobby DeCristoforo will be held on Saturday, April 16 at 4 p.m. at St. Stephen Church on Hanover Street in the North End.

Peter Looney dedication ceremony

On Saturday, April 30 at 10 a.m., there will be a dedication ceremony at the playground on Union Street (adjacent to the hockey rink) to officially name the park in honor of Peter Looney.

Peter has spent most of his adult life working tirelessly to improve the quality of life in our community, most notably through his work with the Charlestown Against Drugs program, and he has been a staunch advocate for most any worthwhile “Townie” cause.  Congratulations Pete!

Help keep me in the “loop”

If you know of a “Townie” who is participating in a spring sports program at any level (lacrosse, track, tennis, softball, golf or baseball), please E-Mail me at [email protected] with the information and/or photographs and I will be sure to include them 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.”

Favorite moments in sports (Volume I)

At any level, participation in athletics and recreational programs helps us gain confidence and acquire team-building skills.  Sometimes, we even bear witness to remarkable moments of over-achievement, inspirational displays of perseverance, or winning and losing with grace and dignity.  Here are some special sports occasions that have been ingrained in my memory banks:

Sean Gordon’s cycle

I first talked with Sean Gordon (God rest his soul) at the “Oily” during a men’s league softball game.  Although I knew who he was, I didn’t get to know him better until years later when we’d chit-chat at Doherty Playground while our daughters frolicked about in the Bunker Hill pool.  My softball game had just ended and Sean was getting ready to play next with his team.

Before the game started, Sean introduced me to his “girlfriend,” and future wife, Kim (God rest her soul).  Not considered a heralded softball player, Sean was a nervous wreck about how he’d perform, yet, still filled with boyish pride at having his “girl” there to watch him play.  I was rooting for him to put on a good show for Kim.

In his first at-bat, he blasted a towering fly ball over the left-fielder’s head who stumbled and fell while attempting to catch the ball allowing Sean to sprint around the bases for a home run.  Kim jumped for joy and Sean was beaming with excitement at what he had done.  During his next plate appearance, Sean hit a bazooka shot into the left-center field gap and legged out a stand-up triple.  As his teammates harangued him about his newfound strength and speed, Sean glanced up and winked at Kim.

In his last two at-bats, Sean smacked a single and a double to complete the extremely rare hitting “cycle.”  In addition, while playing third base Sean made a sensational stop on a hard-hit ground ball converting it into a nifty inning-ending double play.  At the conclusion of the game, rather than revel in his glory and celebrate with teammates, Sean held Kim’s hand, said his goodbyes and left.

Glen Luce’s free-throw

Glen Luce paid a high price in achieving his athletic moments.  As a “gentle giant,” soft-spoken teenager, Glen was subject to an inordinate amount of negative peer pressure.  However, he not only got to play in a High School Super Bowl for an undefeated football team, he was also swamped by the school cheerleaders during a basketball game.

Even though Glen received occasional playing time on the freshmen basketball team, he had yet to score a point and it was the last game of the season.  With a minute left in the contest, Glen was fouled while attempting to grab a rebound and was awarded a “1-and-1” free-throw opportunity.  In storybook fashion, Glen ricocheted his first shot off the backboard and through the net sending the spectators into a celebratory frenzy.  As the cheerleaders rushed the court and enveloped Glen in a hail of hugs and kisses, the dumbstruck referees blew the whistle repeatedly in an attempt to restore order.

Pat Duncan’s catch

During the 1980s, I roamed center field for the Malden Rats men’s softball team.  Our games were played at Pine Banks Field in Melrose and the talented roster included five sets of brothers – the Fitzpatricks, Duncans, Kellys, Hickeys and Halihans.  Needless to say, sibling-fueled “chops busting” was the order of the day and we all laughed incessantly at each other’s needling and witty banter.

Each summer we also entered the prestigious Metro Tournament which featured some of the best softball teams in the region.  Playing alongside me in the outfield was whirling dervish left-fielder Pat Duncan.  Pat’s barrister voice echoed loudly whenever an umpire “missed” a call, or a teammate didn’t try his best; he was a sparkplug who often sacrificed his body in order to make a game-saving play.

Such was the case during a Metro Tourney semi-final contest.  With our team ahead by a score of 5-3 in the bottom of the last inning, the opponents loaded the bases with one out and seemed primed to win the game.  Their best slugger, who had already walloped a homer, was at the plate and Pat and I sensed that he would try to launch another one out of the park.

Sure enough, a towering blast was lofted directly over Pat’s head toward the four-foot-high chain link fence.  From my angle, I could tell the ball was going to go over with Pat having no chance of making the catch.  Incredibly, he kept running full speed toward the fence, took one last glance over his shoulder at the descending ball, and jumped.  Not only did Pat’s feet land perfectly on the fence, without missing a beat he leaped again and – completely outstretched – snared the ball in the web of his glove.

Pat’s ensuing crash onto the asphalt resembled the footage of the Wide World of Sports “Agony of Defeat” ski jumper; players and spectators were dumbstruck at Pat’s insanity.  Unbelievably, the umpire ruled that Pat hadn’t caught the ball and awarded the batter a grand slam.  In seconds, Pat was in the umpire’s face, blood oozing from his scrapes, insisting he made the catch.

As it turned out, the call was correctly reversed but because Pat had landed out of bounds the other team’s runners advanced one base, making the score 5-4.  Fittingly, we secured the final out and advanced to the championship game.

Doug Flutie and Joe Paterno

Although it was early in his collegiate career, Doug Flutie’s passing performance during a 1982 game versus Penn State was one for the ages.  Boston College lost decisively by a score of 52-17, but Flutie – the most exciting football player I ever saw – threw for a mind-boggling 520 yards while marching his team up and down the field against the vaunted Penn State defense.

As entertaining as Flutie’s heroics were that day, the most fascinating development was the Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation exhibited by legendary coach Joe Paterno.  When the game started, the mild-mannered Paterno was neatly clad in a suit and tie, wearing his typical thick, black glasses and holding a clipboard.  As the game progressed and Flutie’s passing and scrambling yardage started piling up, Paterno slowly unraveled.

By halftime, even though his team was leading by a comfortable margin, a disheveled Paterno had already drop-kicked his clipboard and hurled his suit coat in no particular direction.  When the fourth quarter got underway, Paterno’s glasses were askew, his hair was sticking straight up, and his tie was on backwards as he screamed vitriol toward his defensive players.  I’m guessing Flutie has garnered that same reaction from more than a few opposing coaches.

Pete Maravich

During the basketball season, I always checked to see if Pete Maravich and his LSU team were playing on television.  Maravich was the best college basketball player I ever saw and, win or lose, he never failed to astonish me with his passing, dribbling and shooting skills.  For his collegiate career Pete AVERAGED more than 40 points-per-game and scored over 50 points an amazing 28 times; while most of his shots were from three-point range, the 3-pointer had not yet been instituted in basketball.

When his team participated in a nationally televised game-of-the-week, Maravich usually rose to the occasion by scoring more than 60, 70 or even 80 points.  He eventually went on to enjoy a successful NBA career, which included a brief stint in his final season with the Boston Celtics.

I was at the Boston Garden when Pete was in uniform for his first game as a Celtic.  Although it was halfway through the fourth quarter and the Celts had held a commanding lead throughout the game, Coach Bill Fitch still kept Maravich on the bench.  The fans screamed, “WE WANT PETE! WE WANT PETE! WE WANT PETE!” Fitch didn’t budge.  The chant was soon altered to “FITCH (expletive deleted)! FITCH (expletive deleted)! FITCH (expletive deleted)!”

With just over four minutes left, Maravich entered the game to a thunderous roar of approval.  Fittingly, his teammates fed him the ball on each possession and Pete poured in a dozen points sending the place into bedlam.

The Boston Braves

Nope, I’m not talking about the baseball team.  Back in 1971, the Boston Bruins formed an AHL affiliate, the Boston Braves, who also played their home games at the Boston Garden.  Although the franchise lasted only three years, they rollicked their way into our hearts with a brash, rockem-sockem style of play, not unlike their NHL counterparts.

They usually won in spectacular fashion and set league attendance records in their inaugural year.  I remember the first Braves game I went to they outshot the Rochester Americans 33-4 in the first period on their way to a 6-3 win.  For me, it was a chance to watch up-and-comers such as Terry O’Reilly, Mike Milbury, Don Marcotte, Al Simmons and Dan Bouchard, or even cagey veterans like Ron Anderson, Garry Peters, Rich Leduc and Tommy Williams.

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