Hill Happenings

Parishioners packed Mission Church last Saturday at the 12:10 Mass to commemorate 60 years of ministry for Father Robert Lennon, who is the director of healing and restoration at Mission Church. Father Lennon grew up on Mission Hill and he is a graduate of Mission Grammar School.

In 1944, as a 13-year-old second baseman, Father Lennon played on the famous Mission Hill (CYO) Catholic Youth Organization baseball team, playing at Fenway Park and Braves Field, en route to the state championship. When Father Lennon and his teammates weren’t playing baseball, they were often at Mission Church, lighting candles for their big brothers who were on the battle field in Europe and the South Pacific.

Father Scannell, a Redemptorist priest at Mission Church organized the team and the coach was Frank Power. Power, a World War l veteran, is part of the lineage of the prominent Mission Hill Power ancestry. The coach’s nephew, Beaver Power, was also on the team. Charley Hanafin was the team’s center fielder. Charley was recently recognized by the Vatican for his generosity to the Mission Church restoration. Joe Roche was the captain and Mission’s best pitcher. Four years later in 1948, Roche signed with the Boston Red Sox and played in the minor leagues. Another notable name on the team was John McCann, Mission’s terrific shortstop. “They were great kids and we had so much fun,” regaled Father Lennon. Thanks for the memories, Father, and more important, thanks for being a wonderful priest.

Thanks to Tobin School teacher, Jessica Barry, who escorted me to her students art display at the Tobin last month. The kids adore Jessica, who is an art teacher at the Tobin School and she brings out the best in her students.

Wayne Selden, the terrific player for the Memphis Grizzlies, stopped by his Mission Hill neighborhood last Sunday, conversing with the delighted youngsters, who were shooting hoops at the courts next to Parker Hill Avenue. Wayne was with his grandfather, Tony “Amps” Pitts, one of the best local basketball players back in the 1960s.

One day, I think it was 1962, when I was playing ball with my friends in front of my house at the Mission Hill project basketball courts, Celtics forward Tom “Satch” Sanders joined us. The Celtics were battling the Lakers in the finals and the teams had played the previous night at the Garden. I can still picture Satch, in his high top black converse sneakers. This great man, with a nonchalant attitude, whose teammates were Russell and Cousy, was with us. When I asked Satch about defending the Lakers incomparable Elgin Baylor, Satch chuckled and said, “I did well last night, I held him to under 50 points.”

Happy 45th birthday (July 7) to my wonderful son, Rob Martin.

Dottie Hurley, a charming Mission Hill woman, will have her birthday candles lit July 8.

Last month on “Jeopardy,” a question was, “Where is Roxbury Puddingstone located ?” Roxbury Puddingstone is named for a rock formation that formed millions of years ago. A stroll through Kevin Fitzgerald Park, previously the “Ledge,” will enlighten you of the interesting history of the ancient rock. Roxbury, initially spelled “Rocksbury” is named after the rock, as is The Puddingstone Tavern, our fine Mission Hill bar. The contestant on Jeopardy incorrectly answered Connecticut.

I enjoy conversing with Cordelia Moye, a spirited woman from Roxbury, who works at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital. When Cordelia isn’t working at the hospital, she is writing novels, including, “Lilac’s Mission” and “The Temp Assignment.” She also writes poetry and has appeared on Community Access television. I love Cordelia’s motto, which is on her business card, “Who’s That Girl From Roxbury?”

Congratulations to Kenny O’Neill who became a U.S. citizen last month during a ceremony at the Hynes Convention Center. Kenny, who hails from West Cork, Ireland, is a bartender at Flann O’Brien’s. He is pleasant young man, gifted with the Irish wit.

This summer has been a bit too quiet atop McLaughlin Park with no Mission Hill Softball League for the first time since the late 1960s. The Baptist Hospital team, the defending M.H. League champions, are playing in the Dorchester Barber League. The boys are having fun, despite getting clipped on the field with a record of 2 wins and 12 losses as of this writing. The team misses their star center fielder, Neukis Ortiz, who is not playing this year and devoting more time to his career at the Baptist Hospital.

It was a nice tribute to the great Donna Summer last week with a night of disco at City Hall Plaza. Donna grew up in Mission Hill when she was Donna Gaines and she died in 2012. Several local folks attended the evening of disco, including Jeanne Marie Sheehan and Chris Dwyer who were dancing up a storm.

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