Hill Happenings

Last Saturday (Aug.25), dozens of parishioners gathered in front of Mission Church to pay homage to Father Robert Lennon on his 90th birthday.

Often called “Father Bob,” this extraordinary priest succeeded the late Father McDonough as Mission Church’s Healing and Restoration Minister in 1986. Father Bob, who is a graduate of Mission Grammar School, was an infielder on the famous 1944 Mission Hill CYO baseball team. That group of 13-year-old kids lived out their dreams, playing games at Fenway Park and Braves Field, en route to the Mass. State Championship. 

Before the games, the players would light candles at the Church, praying for their big brothers who were engaged in battle during World War II. The coach of the ‘44 team was Frank Power. Power, who fought in World War I, and is part of the lineage of the prominent Mission Hill Power ancestry. 

Happy 76th birthday (Sept.19) to my big brother, Dan Martin. Being close with Dan, and with the rest of my large family dearly departed, he and I share many lunches and casino trips.

Dan stays in terrific shape playing handball and drinking pints of Guinness beer. In 1994, Dan won the World Handball Championship (50-and-over division) in County Clare, Ireland. Last month, I attended an outdoor handball tournament at Constitution Beach in East Boston to see Dan and the great Killion Carroll was also in the tournament.

I was in awe watching the 25-year-old Carroll, who is regarded as the world’s best handball player. I chatted with Carroll, an Irishman who lives in Dorchester, and he is such a nice guy.

Dan, as were my other siblings, was blessed with athleticism. In 1966, local boxing fans filled the old Boston Arena (currently Northeastern University’s Matthews Arena) to watch Dan in his ring debut. Dan startled his opponent in the first round with a flurry of punches as the partisan Mission Hill crowd roared. Dan, however, soon ran out of gas, and he lost the bout.

Also on the boxing card that memorable evening was Dan’s buddy, the late Tom “Cannonball”  Earley. Tom gave it the old Mission Hill project effort, but he was also defeated. Tom, the son of the late Walter Earley, a beloved Boston Policeman from Mission Hill, is also the grandson of a former Major League pitcher named Tom Earley as well.

The elder Tom Earley pitched for six years in the Major League for the Boston Bees and Boston Braves (currently the Atlanta Braves), and he was a World War II Navy veteran. Before making his Big League debut in 1938, Tom honed his skills as a pitcher for Mission High School. My late friend, John “Abner” Keiley, played center field and was Tom’s teammate at Mission. Abner would often spin yarns at the Mission Hill Post about Earley’s prowess on the ball field.

Condolence to the family of Eleanor (Healy) Spurr, who passed away on Aug. 20. I didn’t know Eleanor, but I’ve known her brothers, particularly Bobby Healy and Father John Healy, since childhood, and they are a great Mission Hill family. R.I.P. Eleanor.

A tip of the hat goes to Mike Spinney of Spinney Insurance, 1560 Tremont St., for beautifying the neighborhood. Mike created a pretty bassinet of flowers, which is displayed next to his office at Tremont and St. Alphonsus streets.

Thanks to my friend, Sal Giarratani, a fine writer for the Post-Gazette for his kind words about the Mission Hill Gazette and me in his Aug. 14 column. Sal spotted my piece about Mission Church priest, Father Cabasino, who passed away at age 99. Sal and Fr. Cabasino knew each other from back in the days when Sal worked at Ma. Mental on Fenwood Road as a Campus Police Officer, and the wonderful priest would often visit the patients. The Post-Gazette is a weekly paper out of the North End in Boston, and it has been continuously published for 125 years.

Happy birthday (Sept. 4) to Mairead Murphy, my favorite bartender at Flann O’Brien’s Pub. When Mairead serves me my 16-ounce Coors Light draft, it tastes especially good, perhaps because she is so nice.

BPD Officer “Big Mike” O’Rourke will celebrate his birthday Sept. 29. Big Mike is our Mission Hill Community Police Officer and he does an excellent job. .

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