–By Kevin E. Kelly
Little League Parade set for Saturday
Charlestown Little League will celebrate their 53rd season with the annual parade this Saturday (April 30). Players are asked to gather with their teammates and coaches at Hayes Square, adjacent to the Harvard-Kent School, between 8 and 8:15 a.m. After completion of the parade and Opening Day ceremonies, the players will compete in a regularly scheduled game beginning at 9 a.m.
“Nana’s Angels” fundraiser
On Saturday, April 30, at the Knights of Columbus Hall on West School Street, Team “Nana’s Angels” will hold a fundraiser to benefit the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. In the four years that Team “Nana’s Angels” has participated in the Avon Walk, they have raised – with the help of the Charlestown community – over $100,000 for 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.
Peter Looney Playground
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 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.”
“Townies” sports update
Superstar forward Jackie Gentis notched her second hat trick of the year and surpassed the 30-goal milestone of her travel team career as the Charlestown Girls Under-12 team (1-0-2) tied Wakefield by a score of 3-3…Rookie-of-the-year candidate Aaron Wadman reached the 20-goal milestone his travel team career, but it wasn’t enough as the “Townies” Boys Under-10 team (1-2-0) lost to Somerville 3-1…As the Spring high school sports season fast approaches the halfway mark, special recognition must be given to all of the Charlestown Youth Hockey teams who enjoyed spectacular success this year.
The Girls Under-10 Squirts team, in particular, won their championship in incredible fashion by toppling Waltham 5-4 in triple overtime.
DENNIS MOCCIA’S DRIBBLING:
Returning to Charlestown in 1979 after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps, one of my favorite hangouts became the Boys & Girls Club gymnasium. I wasted no time forming a “Kelly Club” hoop team to compete in the Alumni League.
The squad consisted of me, my older brother Denny, my cousin Johnny, and my friends Stevie Thompson, Jimmy Powers and Dennis Moccia.
I was excited to play against some of the players I idolized as a youngster, as well as against many of my peers. After losing our first two contests, the third game pitted us against the powerful Gym Club – the defending champions who hadn’t lost a game in three years. The ’79 Gym Club featured Richie Murphy, “Bo” Blaikie, Jerry Driscoll and Billy “Bean” Smith, but in previous years had included “Townie” legends such as Bobby Smith (Boston College), “Ro” Walsh (Merrimac), John “Dino” Driscoll (Northeastern) and “Dinga” Houlihan (Boston State).
The odds-makers had us as 50-point underdogs. They were wrong. In what turned out to be an extremely hard-fought, down-to-the-wire classic, we ended the Gym Club’s amazing winning streak. My brother Denny tossed in 22 points and my teammates played with reckless abandon, but it was point guard Dennis Moccia who was primarily responsible for us pulling off the upset.
Under intense defensive pressure from the rugged Murphy, Moccia utilized his sensational dribbling and ball-handling skills to help us keep our wits about us, patiently maneuvering the basketball to ensure we took the highest percentage shot.
Referee Charlie McGonagle, thankfully, “let the boys play” and both teams displayed sportsmanship despite the grueling encounter. The unflappable Moccia sealed the victory with several clutch, late-game free throws.
We never beat them again.
“LEFTY” DEVLIN’S HITTING:
I can’t say for sure exactly how many hits he has in his career, but if you were to tell me 5,000, I’d believe it. I first saw “Lefty” Devlin hit when he was playing first base for the Cronin Club. He was a few years older than me and possessed a “sweet swing” and charismatic personality; he also seemed to be having more fun on the baseball diamond than any other Little Leaguer.
Thirty years later, I had the pleasure of being his teammate on a very talented Charlestown Men’s Softball League team. “Lefty” was the player-coach and had established a reputation as one of the league’s premier hitters.
Despite his seniority and svelte-challenged physique, he was still rifling line drives and needling both teammates and opponents alike with his disarming, “I’m still having a blast after all these years” personality.
“Lefty” also had a unique way of putting things into perspective; making sure his teammates’ feet were planted firmly on the ground. In the midst of one festive post-game gathering, “Lefty” inquired, “Let me get this straight, you guys come to the ‘Oily’ three nights a week to play and celebrate for hours on end, but, you won’t spend ONE hour to go to Church?” Indeed.
CHUCKIE CHEVALIER’S SPEED:
As a boy, my father told me many tales about the heroic exploits of Chuckie Chevalier, widely regarded as the greatest “Townie” athlete ever. Consider, he was an All-City shortstop, point guard and quarterback for Charlestown High School, and is one of the most popular Hall of Fame players in Boston College history, achieving All American status in basketball and baseball. Chevalier was also drafted in 1962 by the Boston Celtics, who were in the middle of an 11-out-of-13 NBA championship run; he was the last player cut from the team that year.
My brother Denny and I were bat boys for my dad’s Boston Park League baseball team and we got to watch Chevalier perform, albeit in the waning years of his career. His game-breaking hitting and fielding skills were legendary, but what impressed me most was Chevalier’s incredible speed.
Whether snaring a hard-hit ball up the middle, or stretching a single into a double, or beating out a routine ground ball to an infielder, he had speed to burn and never, ever played at anything other than full throttle.
MIKE FIDLER’S SHOT:
It was readily apparent that Mike Fidler had “it” even when he was skating for the “Pics” in the Milt Schmidt Youth Hockey program.
The remarkable plays he made then foretold of what was to be a phenomenal hockey career.
Whether at Malden Catholic (45 goals his senior year), Boston University (46 goals in two years), Team USA (leading scorer at the 1978 World Championships) or in the NHL (84 goals, 97 assists), Mike was sensational; patrolling the slot with his stick recoiled and utilizing his rugged frame to position himself to snap off a lethal wrist shot.
JON JONES PUNTING:
Every time I watch Jon Jones compete on the football field, I’m amazed at his physical and intangible talents.
A true leader, he is capable of affecting the outcome of a Charlestown Townies game in many different ways.
I’ve watched Jones scramble for first downs to keep drives alive; “pooch kick” to pin an opponent near their own goal-line; launch 60-yard completions while getting crunched; and thread “bullet” passes by flabbergasted defenders.
As the team’s punter, because of his offensive prowess, Jones is rarely called upon during a game. However, on those occasions that the Townies need a clutch kick, Jones more often than not booms an eye-popper.
The unmistakable sound of his shod foot striking the football, and the accompanying hang time, brings to my mind Jones being capable of punting for any NFL team.
LARRY SKINNER’S PITCHING:
No, Larry was not the best baseball player I ever saw. He was an average, at best, hitter with negligible speed on the base paths. He was OK defensively. What Larry could do, however, was pitch.
When we played together on the Lechmere Orioles of the Junior Park League (now the Tom Yawkey League), our team always had a chance to win with Larry hurling.
With an array of pitches thrown from multiple angles, Larry was able to keep batters off balance with his oft-changing velocity and pinpoint control. It was particularly humorous watching opposing sluggers shout expletives and throw tantrums after striking out against Larry.
He rarely threw the same pitch twice to a batter and possessed an iron will; Larry even ran the Boston Marathon in less than three hours.
His demeanor also ingratiated him to his teammates. If you made an error, no matter how atrocious or costly, Larry smiled and winked, said “get the next one,” and continued pitching.