Mission Hill mourned the death of three comrades last month, most recently Richie O’Neill, who grew up at 25 Tobin Court in the Mission Hill project. Richie was the loving father of six and he was the proprietor of O’Neill Plumbing.
I also lived in Tobin Court and I’m glad Richie liked me because he was the toughest guy in a neighborhood full of tough guys. Richie was a terrific running back on the great 1959 Mission High School football team and later for local teams in Boston Park League Football, including the Killilea Club. Richie was a fierce competitor on the athletic field.
About 50 years ago, my big brother Dan was the player-coach for Mission Hill in the Boston Park Baseball League. I was the first baseman and Richie was our best pitcher. One memorable evening at Fens Stadium Richie was pitching a no-hitter against a Dorchester team. News of Richie’s feat spread through the Fens and the crowd swelled.
However, we were losing 2-1, Dorchester’s runs scoring on two errors sandwiched between a walk. With two outs in the last of the ninth inning, John Harran was at bat and Richie was on deck, yearning to hit. After Harran ducked away from a close pitch, O’Neill shouted, “Let the ball hit you in the ribs.” Harran, however, grounded out to end the game. Richie O’Neill hurled a no-hitter but we lost. After the game, we went to Ed Burkes, the famous Mission Hill watering hole, and we drank many beers.
Condolences to the family of Phil Mahoney, who passed away last month. Phil, who worked as a painter, was the father of four and he lived on Mission Hill for all of his 76 years. Phil enjoyed hanging out at Mike’s Donuts, where he would hold court over coffee and muffins. Phil loved going to Mass at Mission Church and he volunteered his time, often making the rounds with the collection basket. At Mass, Phil was not fond of long sermons. He would invariably say to Father Dabney, “Keep it short.” One Sunday after Mass, Father Dabney made eye contact with Phil, following a fairly short sermon. “Not short enough,” said Phil. Phil will be dearly missed.
My friend, Dave “The Gunner” Hardy passed away March 31, a few days before his 66th birthday. Dave grew up in the South End and he acquired an admirable work ethic at a young age, working with his father, peddling fruits and vegetables. Later, Dave worked for the Globe as a printer, retiring after forty-four years. Dave enjoyed having a few brews with the guys at the Mission Hill taverns, usually the Hitching Post or the nearby Peter Bent Lounge (currently the Penguin) and he loved to gamble.
In 1970 on a Saturday morning Dave, Richie Jelloe, and I drove to Yankee Stadium in Jelloe’s old Studerbaker to see the Red Sox play the Yankees. Ray Culp was pitching for Boston and Dave made a huge wager on the Red Sox. The Sox slammed the Yankees and on the ride home, Dave was happy as a clam. We made it back to the Peter Bent Lounge in time for “last call” and Dave bought a round for the house.
On the lighter side, Paul “Knuckles” Riley stopped by the Hill to say hello. Paul, who was a high school basketball star at Catholic Memorial High School, shed most of his dinner bucket and he looks fit as a fiddle.
I enjoyed chatting with Susan Brooks last month at Brigham Circle. Susan, my 1967 Mission High classmate, looks terrific. Stephen Coote, also my ‘67 classmate, joined me at the Mission Hill Post last week for a few beers and great conversation. In high school, Steve was one of those kids referred to as “wicked smart.” He is retired from Xerox and he lives in Germany. Steve will be in Boston for a few more weeks.
Good luck to the owners of the Green T, the fine Mission Hill coffee shop at 754 Huntington Ave., who will soon be opening another Green T in Roslindale near Fallon Field.
Happy 60th birthday to Jim “Rabbit” Ryan, a former star athlete from 31 Tobin Court in Mission Hill. A surprise celebration was held in Jim’s Milton home last week with friends and family. Jim’s lovely wife, Mary, sprung the trap on her bewildered husband, who assumed he was coming home to Mary’s book club friends.
Applauds to the Stop & Shop in Mission Hill for its $5,000 donation to Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury. Stop & Shop manager, Frank Gillis, presented the check to the health center on April 12. The Mission Hill Stop & Shop has always been generous to the local communities and to local charities.
Fred Clow, a jovial Mission Hill man, will celebrate his 85th birthday May 7. Fred is a notable photographer who has done close-ups of many celebrities, including J.F.K. before he became our 35th president. Fred worked as a stringer photographer for United Press International for many years and he has been a contributor to the Mission Hill Gazette. Fred, while sipping a Sam Adams beer at the Mission Hill Post, told me, “I still love my work, I’m obsessed with my photography.”