I enjoyed an inspiring chat with Father Kevin MacDonald over a beer at Flann O’Brien’s last week. Father MacDonald, a Redemptorist priest in Florida, loves Mission Church, having served here from 1999-2002 and he was back for a short visit. A great athlete and a 1974 graduate of Woburn High School, Father MacDonald got his calling from God at age 28 and he was ordained in 1991.
After high school Father MacDonald went to Boston College where he was a terrific shortstop on their baseball team and he was inducted into the Boston College Athletic Hall of Fame. At BC the great shortstop played under legendary coach, Eddie Pellagrini. Upon graduating from BC, Father MacDonald signed a contract to play in the Pittsburg Pirates organization and he played for the Double A Charleston Pirates. Father MacDonald also played professionally for a year in Europe and two years in Australia before embarking on his vocation.
Eddie Pellagrini coached baseball at Boston College from 1958 until 1990. He grew up in Roxbury and he played 10 years in the major leagues. Father MacDonald told me Coach Pellagrini was loveable and quite the character. “He couldn’t remember the player’s names so he called everybody ‘kid,’” said Father MacDonald. Added the wonderful priest, “When I was a freshman, he inserted me as a pinch runner and said, ‘Kid, do you want to graduate?’ After I said, ‘Yes’, he said, ‘Then don’t get picked off.’” Eddie Pellagrini made Roxbury proud when he hit a homerun for the Red Sox in 1946 in his first Major League at bat. Pellagrini, who served in the Navy during the World War ll, died in 2006 at age 88.
Mission Hill mourned the loss of Charlie O’Neil, a retired Boston Police sergeant, who passed away last month, as hundreds packed Gormely Funeral in West Roxbury. Charley, a 1964 Mission High graduate, served in the Army during the Vietnam conflict and he was a decorated soldier. Charlie was a wonderful guy and I feel fortunate to have known him. I fondly recall attending Charlie’s and his lovely wife Jane’s wedding at Lombardo’s and it’s numbing to think that was almost a half century ago.
Charlie was a terrific story teller and he enjoyed a laugh. A famous story Charlie told me occurred in the early 70s when Charlie was a Massachusetts state policeman, working the overnight shift. He stopped a car for speeding and the driver was the famous wrestler “Killer” Kowalski, renowned for his claw hold. Charlie recognized the name on his license, Walter Kowalski, and they engaged in light banter. “No speeding ticket but one thing I always wanted to do,” said Charlie, as he reached inside the car for the wrestler’s stomach and he applied the “claw” hold.
Paul Stanton, also a terrific guy from Mission Hill, passed away last month where he lived in Florida. Always a hard worker, Paul was employed by Stop & Shop for 49 years. Paul was a fine athlete and I loved to compete against him in the Mission Hill Softball League when he was hard throwing pitcher for the Hanafin Club. Rest in Peace, Paul.
The boys from Mike’s Donuts wish Frank Williams a happy 70th birthday. Frank, from Mission Hill, played on the great English High football teams in the mid 1960s.
Mission Hill’s congenial letter carrier, Mike McNamara, will be leaving his route next week for a new assignment downtown. Mike, from Pontiac Street, delivers the mail with a smile. He is the nephew of the late Father Vincent Kelly, who was the pastor at Mission Church for many years. The noble priest was born in Mission Hill and he attended Mission Grammar School. Father Kelly, who received his First Holy Communion at Mission Church in 1919, passed away in 2008 at age 95.
James Redfearn will be at the Parker Hill Library Dec. 6 to promote his terrific book, “An Appointed Time.” Redfearn, a retired Massachusetts State Police Officer, hails from Mission Hill and he was my neighbor at 32 Tobin Court. Redfearn’s first book, “The Rising at Roxbury Crossing,” was published in 2012.
I enjoyed watching the annual Mission Hill Road Race, a fun traditional event, at Kevin Fitzgerald Park on Oct. 13. Peter Teixeira won the three mile race finishing in 16:27, an incredible pace. Erin Dillman was the first lady to cross the finish. The crowd, diminished by bad weather, was exuberant, cheering on the runners, including my brother, 74-year-old Dan Martin, who was top in his age bracket. Jeanne Marie (Sheehan) Cosby, who looks 10 years younger than her age, finished first in her division in a time of 30:48. Jim “Rabbit” Ryan raced through the course in 27:17. Other notable runners who completed the race were Ned “Buzzy” Farqhuar and my son, Rob Martin. Rob, a former track star at Blue Hills Regional High School, finished second in the over 40 division in 22:42.
It was nice seeing Big Jim Moynihan in the crowd. Big Jim organized the first Mission Hill Road Race in 1981. Big Jim, back in his prime, completed eight Boston Marathons. It was also good seeing classy Tom Killilea, who was stationed at Hillside Market, pointing the runners in the right direction. Thanks to Pat Flaherty and all the race volunteers for making the event a success.
Congratulations to Mike Mangiacotti, on his induction into the Xaverian Brother’s Athletic Hall of Fame at a ceremony Oct. 20 at Xaverian High in Westwood. Mangiacotti, a 1960 graduate, was a sterling three sport athlete at Mission. As a youngster I fondly recall watching Mike play quarterback for Mission. More important than his athletic prowess, the humble Mangiacotti is a great guy.
Michel Flynn, the nice bartender at the Mission Bar & Grill, looked dandy behind the bar wearing her Yaz Red Sox shirt. Michel attended World Series game l from the monster seats when Yaz threw out the first pitch. Michel, a big Sox fan, received the shirt as a gift from the boys at the Brookline Elks Club, Paul Fitz, T.D. and Paul Ward.
It was cool seeing the youngsters come into Mike’s Donuts attired in their spiffy Halloween costumes the other day. What do you call two witches who live together? Broommates.