baseball

North Shore Navigators Post-Game Fireworks

Fun and affordable family entertainment. Great college summer baseball. You don’t need to drive to Fenway to see quality baseball and our prices are affordable. Tickets are $6 and $7 and hot dogs are a buck at every game. Fireworks at every Friday Night home game thanks to WAYNE ALARM. Full concession menu including Budweiser and local Bent Water Brewery products. If you have not been to a game, what are you waiting for? Click NOW!

7:00 p.m. First Pitch

Post-Game Fireworks on the following Fridays:

  • June 16
  • June 30
  • July 7
  • July 14
  • July 21
  • July 28
  • Aug. 4

Fraser Field, 365 Western Ave., Lynn

North Shore Navigators Post-Game Fireworks

Fun and affordable family entertainment. Great college summer baseball. You don’t need to drive to Fenway to see quality baseball and our prices are affordable. Tickets are $6 and $7 and hot dogs are a buck at every game. Fireworks at every Friday Night home game. Full concession menu including Budweiser and local Bent Water Brewery products. If you have not been to a game, what are you waiting for? Click NOW!

7:00 p.m. First Pitch

Post-Game Fireworks on the following Fridays:

  • June 16
  • June 30
  • July 7
  • July 14
  • July 21
  • July 28
  • Aug. 4

Fraser Field, 365 Western Ave., Lynn

Having a ball in Swampscott

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Ryan Filipiak, Owen Pulaski, Gabe Bookman, Domenic Cella, Charlie Brogna and Cam Gold act silly with Chomps.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Following the success of the father-daughter dance, a bunch of moms approached For the Love of Swampscott members and asked about the potential for a mother and son event.

Last year, For the Love of Swampscott (FLOS) helped the Swampscott Police Association with the annual father-daughter dance, which will be Friday, June 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Swampscott High School.

But this year the local nonprofit decided to focus its energies on organizing an event for mothers and sons, according to Diane O’Brien, event chair for FLOS.

FLOS will host a “baseball-themed” Mother/Son event for Swampscott families on Saturday, June 10 at 5 p.m. at Fraser Field in Lynn for a North Shore Navigators game.

“We look forward to hosting this fun event for mothers and sons to spend time together,” said FLOS members in a statement. “And as always, all special someones are welcome.”

New Swampscott principal ‘a perfect fit’

O’Brien said the group wanted to do something outdoors and in the summer, so they came up with the idea for a baseball game and contacted the North Shore Navigators. She said the team’s owner is excited and is going to help FLOS produce an amazing event.

O’Brien said a tailgate party will be held in the parking lot at 5 p.m., where people can check in and get goody bags. Gymja Warriors will be doing a demo. Then, everyone will proceed into the ballpark, and some of the kids will hold American flags during the national anthem when players are introduced. A few of the kids will get to go onto the field and play some of the silly games the Navigators have, she said.

“I can’t reiterate enough that it is going to be off the charts,” O’Brien said. “I think it is going to be a lot of fun. Every time I go into that ballpark, I get more and more excited.”

Tickets are $40 per couple and $20 for each additional boy. The ticket price includes a pre-game tailgate party, keepsake photo, themed goody bag, on field activities, pizza and beverages. Parking is free, but carpooling is recommended. Tickets can be purchased at www.fortheloveofswampscott.org. They are limited and are expected to sell out.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

 

After 52 years, a coach calls it a career

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Frank DeFelice coached baseball, football and other sports for 52 years.

By STEVE KRAUSE

SWAMPSCOTT — One of the longest-standing and most illustrious eras in Massachusetts coaching history will end this spring when Frank DeFelice steps down as an assistant baseball coach at Endicott College in Beverly.

DeFelice, who told Coach Bryan Haley of his decision to retire Wednesday, will close the book on a 52-year career as a coach in various schools in both football and baseball that took him from Christopher Columbus High School in Boston all the way to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Along the way, DeFelice, of Swampscott, coached two of the best athletes the state has ever seen — Dick Jauron and Doug Flutie — and was inducted into the Massachusetts State Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

“I felt it was time,” said DeFelice, who is 76. “It was awfully tough making the decision. (Endicott) is a great school, and it’s a great (baseball) program.”

He’s not quite ready to ride off into the sunset. He just wants to be able to do what he does on his own terms.

“I’ll still be around the program,” he said.

DeFelice spent the majority of his coaching years — 40 — at Swampscott High. He had two stints as a baseball coach (1966-71 and 1977-2005), winning 465 games while losing 257 (.644 percentage). In the state tournaments, his teams were tougher, with 45 wins in 65 games (.692). And in 1993, the Big Blue won the Division 3 state championship.

But baseball only tells half the story. He was an assistant football coach during Swampscott’s golden era, working alongside the likes of fellow assistant Dick Lynch and under the legendary head coach Stan Bondelevitch. Included among the players he coached was a who’s who of the town’s athletic luminaries — Bill Adams, Tom Toner, Mike Lynch, Sandy Tennant and Jauron (who became an all-pro safety with the Detroit Lions, and NFL Coach of the Year with the Chicago Bears, and a college football hall of famer).

Summoning up Swampscott’s yesteryears

Later, he was an assistant at Boston College, a job that took him to Miami in November 1984, where he had a sideline view of Flutie’s “Hail Mary” pass to Gerard Phelan that defeated the Hurricanes. On Jan. 1, 1985, he was in Dallas to help coach the Eagles to their Cotton Bowl victory over Houston.

“I consider myself very fortunate,” DeFelice said, “to have been around two of the greatest athletes you will ever see — Dick Jauron and Doug Flutie.”

DeFelice considers himself fortunate for a lot of what has come his way in life.

“I had great mentors, beginning with my brother, Bobby,’’ he said. “I coached with him in 1965 at Christopher Columbus High School in Boston.

“Then, I went to Swampscott and became associated with Dick Lynch and Stan, both outstanding men, and great mentors. They were hard-nosed men who preached discipline, and they were smart.”

DeFelice also had plenty of admiration for the students he coached.

“I think the words ‘student-athlete’ are tossed around way too much,” he said. “But in Swampscott, back then, we had real student-athletes.

“Dick Jauron went to Yale. Carl Kester went to Amherst and he’s now a professor at Harvard. Sandy Tennant went to Harvard. Mike Lynch and Andy Rose, Harvard. Bill Adams went to Holy Cross. There were so many from that era.”

There was a similar situation with DeFelice’s 1993 baseball team that won a state title.

“Peter Woodfork, who was an underclassman, knew more about baseball at his age than most of us, and he went to Harvard,” said DeFelice. “We had two pitchers (Kevin Rogers and Brian Hayes) who didn’t lose a game.”

Other players on that team went onto have successful college careers, such as Brendan Nolan (BC) and Traeger DiPietro (who played at New Hampshire until the school discontinued baseball).

DeFelice also served as head football coach at Swampscott (1977-81) and Xaverian (1972-76). He was also an assistant basketball and track coach at Swampscott. He had been on the baseball staff at Endicott for the past six years.

 

Charles J. Lyons Jr., 65

OKLAHOMA — Mr. Charles J. Lyons, Jr., 65 years of Asher, Okla. and formerly of Swampscott, died on Sunday, April 16 in St. Anthony Hospital, Oklahoma City, after a brief illness. He is the husband of Mrs. Gemma L (Burgess) Lyons. He was born in Winchester,  the son of the late Charles J Lyons, Sr. and the late Helen C. Lyons. He was raised in Arlington. Charlie was a graduate of Arlington High School where he was a standout multi-sport athlete. He also was a graduate of Norwich University, class of ’75, receiving his degree in Business and Education.

Charlie continued his love for sports throughout college, reaching the professional level for a brief time in baseball.

Longtime resident of Swampscott, raising three boys with his former wife Wendy Williams (Lyons). His love for sports, people, and fun was prevalent during his 26 years in Swampscott. Staying active in many facets of Swampscott youth sports, boating, and local clubs. He then moved to Framingham and eventually settled in Asher, Okla., where he has resided for the past several years.

In addition to his wife, he leaves his three sons Sean Lyons and his wife Stephanie of Gilbert, Ariz., Patrick Lyons and his wife Claudia of Swampscott, Timothy Lyons and his wife Emily of Salem, his grandchildren Sofia Lyons, John Roger Lyons , Maeve Lyons, Louisa Lyons, Jonathan Avila, Christopher Canty, and the late Caleb P. Lyons. He also leaves his sister Mary Lyons of Tewksbury, brother James Lyons and his wife Margaret and their three children, Brittany, Kevin and Callie of Tewksbury, and many other cousins, nieces and nephews.

Service information: Immediate services will be held at the Asher, OK on Saturday, April 22, at 3 p.m. Additional memorial service and celebration of life will be held in Massachusetts at a later date.

Playing ball in Malden

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is a rendering for a possible baseball stadium in Malden.

By STEVE FREKER

MALDEN — Developer Alex Bok wants to put a $60 million field of dreams at the edge of Malden Square.

The Boston-based entrepreneur wants to build a minor league baseball stadium, but he cautioned City Council members Tuesday that progress must be made on the protracted land acquisition talks and the council needs to eye the project approvingly or June 15 may be Bok’s deadline to decide on the project’s future.

Bok told councilors he has signed a letter of intent with a minor league baseball team to purchase an existing team “affiliated” with a Major League Baseball (MLB) team.

“There is now a clear path forward toward purchasing a minor league affiliated team, which is what we and everyone associated with this project has wanted and hoped for from the start,” Bok said.

Bok won’t reveal the name or location of the team he has entered in agreement to purchase, but said it is “from the Northeast.”

Bok and his development group, Malden Field of Dreams, first launched the proposal in the spring of 2010, with plans to build a  6,000-seat stadium across from the MBTA Malden Center Orange Line.

Bok said his group would have to sign the purchase-and-sale agreement of the existing team on June 15 with plans to run the team in its existing ballpark for two seasons and open in Malden at the new stadium in 2019.

“We really need and want to have Malden and (the Council) behind this,” Bok said. “We will know a lot more in May and it’s dead or alive on June 15.”

The proposed project includes 16 private boxes, a kids’ zone, and a family-oriented grass picnic area.  Bok proposed to build the project without public tax dollars and he told councilors this week his group is seeking no tax “breaks” or incentives from the city.

The professional stadium is also proposed as home field for Malden High School baseball and other local school athletic events, Bok said.

Now seven years in the discussion stage, the stadium project centers on one of the most coveted — and contentious — land sites in the city, the nine-acre National Grid-owned parcel at Commercial and Charles street and three other private land parcels on Canal and Centre (Route 60) streets.

Bok points to three major issues that have delayed the project: acquiring a team; presently stalemated negotiations with the owners of the Canal Street business properties, and the site’s environmental cleanup requirements.

Bok and the council this week agreed to meet again in May when he pledged to have an update on new negotiations with the business owners adjacent to the National Grid site.

“We are hoping to make some progress with (the owners) in negotiations,” Bok said. “They (legal representatives) told us, ‘Come back and talk with when you have a team.’ Well, we now have a team.”

Aspire building project hits halfway point

Councilors have mixed views on Bok’s project.  

“I’ve been a Doubting Thomas before, and I still am,” said Ward Six Councilor Neil Kinnon. “What we’ve gotten for the past seven years is deadline after deadline after deadline. I truly believe those (Canal Street) businesses aren’t moving anywhere. I think that’s fairytale land. (An agreement) is not happening in four weeks.”

Councilor at large Craig Spadafora said Malden’s downtown plans and scope have changed dramatically in the past seven years since the project was unveiled.

“If this was to occur, we as a city would have a lot of planning to do with streets, lighting and many other issues. Let’s decide this in May or June. That’s too important a land site. We are not waiting another seven years.”

Several other Councilors, including Councilor at large Debbie DeMaria, Ward Seven’s Neal Anderson and Ward Two’s Paul Condon, whose ward is located right next to the proposed ballpark, all expressed support of the project — if it is “done the right way.”  

Condon and Kinnon both noted traffic concerns which would arise. Ward Four Councilor Ryan O’Malley, in whose ward the ballpark would be placed, said he wanted to know the scope and plan for the environmental cleanup of the parcel before he could get behind it.

 

A Super surprise in Saugus

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Anthony Cicolini is thrilled with his 13th birthday present: a trip to Houston to see the Super Bowl with his father, Jeff.

By HAROLD RIVERA

When Saugus Board of Selectmen member Jeff Cicolini considered what to get his son, Anthony, for his 13th birthday, nothing seemed to come to mind. But sometimes the best ideas start out with a little bit of head scratching.

Cicolini’s birthday gift to his son? A trip to Houston to watch their beloved New England Patriots play against the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.

“I’ve been bringing Anthony to games with me since he was 5 years old,” said Cicolini, a Saugus native and Patriots season ticket holder since 2006. “I started way up in the nosebleed section. He goes to most of the games with me. We went together to the Divisional Round game against Houston and the AFC Championship game against Pittsburgh.”

Now that Anthony has developed a deep understanding of the sport and a devotion to the team, Cicolini felt the timing was right to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We were talking about how this could be one of the last opportunities,” Cicolini said. “We don’t know how much longer (Tom) Brady’s going to play. One of the partners at my firm is bringing his son, so I mentioned that I’d love to bring Anthony with me.”

Anthony, a talented three-sport athlete in football, baseball and basketball, was getting ready for hoops practice when his father shared the big news.

“I was really surprised,” Anthony said. “I was on my way to basketball practice and he was on his computer looking for tickets. He called me and asked ‘Anthony how old are you?’ I told him ‘12’ and he said, ‘You’re going to the Super Bowl before you turn 13.’ It was the most amazing feeling ever. I couldn’t even speak.”

As a Pats season ticket holder, Cicolini has the opportunity to bring Anthony to six games each season. The six games are usually chosen by Anthony when the ticket book arrives in the mail, prior to the start of the season.

“I think it’s awesome,” Anthony said. “I know a lot of kids that have never been to a Patriots game. It’s insane to think that I get to go to six games every year.”

Patriots fans share game-day superstitions

Sunday’s game will the first time either has attended a Super Bowl. Cicolini began rooting for the Patriots at a time when Super Bowl appearances weren’t a norm in New England. When Robert Kraft bought the team, that began to change.

“I was on the waiting list for season tickets the year they lost the Super Bowl to Green Bay (1996 season),” Cicolini recalled. “Even though they weren’t very good, I was a fan. When Kraft bought the team it became easier to stay focused because they began doing special things.”

He added, “We’ve been very fortunate with the Patriots. They’ve been to six Super Bowls. I have partners that have been to several, but I’ve never been. We’re not the norm in the NFL. There are teams that have never been.”

Anthony, who attends Belmonte Middle School in Saugus, said it took some effort on his part to convince his friends that he’d be going to the Super Bowl.

“They didn’t believe me at first,” he said. “After a while they started to believe me.”

Both Anthony and his father shared predictions for Sunday’s game.

“I think it’s going to be a high-scoring game,” Anthony predicted. “The key for the Patriots is going to be stopping Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones. If we can lock down those two, we should have no problem winning. I think the Patriots will win, 38-35.”

His father predicted a low-scoring game, with LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots running backs making the difference.

“I think the X-factor will be establishing the running game with Blount,” Cicolini said. “I think James White will have a big game. If I had to guess a score, I’d say 21-17 Patriots.”

 

Swampscott baseball holds off Revere

PHOTO: BOB ROCHE
Swampscott’s Leo Wile is congratulated by teammates after hitting a two-run home run on Wednesday.

By SCOT COOPER

 

REVERE — On a perfect afternoon for ice fishing, as opposed to baseball, Swampscott did what it had to do to hold off a scrappy Revere team, 4-2.

The Blue and the Patriots were thrilled to get a game in, after rainouts Monday and Tuesday. Both coaches, Swampscott’s Jason Calichman, and Revere’s Sean Brinkley, said that conditions for baseball were terrible. But, they agreed, that’s baseball in New England. You’ve got to play the games when you can.

The Blue sent righty Gavin Sullivan to the hill, and the Patriots countered with righty Maxx Anderson. Both pitchers threw complete games, but the Big Blue got Sullivan four runs early, and he never let Revere all the way back into the game.

The home team scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it a two-run game. But Sullivan responded by retiring three straight to close out the seventh, the last two on strikeouts.

“What a game their guy pitched, just unbelievable,” Brinkley said. “Maxx (Anderson) was great for us, the conditions were so bad for both teams, to have two great pitching performances, that says something about what type of competitors those two guys are.”

After cruising through the first inning, Anderson ran into some troubles in the second. With the wind whipping in from right field (and Revere Beach), A. J. Venuti dropped a single into short center field that drove in Corey Bleau, who started the frame with a walk.  C. J. Howard also reached on a wind-aided hit, and he came trotting home when catcher Louis Olivieri ripped a single up the middle.

Any ball hit high in the air was an adventure wherever it was hit, and the Blue used those tough conditions to their advantage to take the lead. Swampscott put up two more in the top of the third, with no wind involved. Leo Wile crashed his fourth homer of the season, a 2-run shot that plated DH Matt Hubauer, who singled to get on ahead of Wile.

Anderson was in control for Revere after the third inning; the Blue had just two base runners, aboard on walks, over the last four innings.

Sullivan got out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the fourth; a textbook 1-2-3 double play extinguished the threat. Sullivan grabbed a grounder off the bat of Nic Castellarias, fired to Olivieri at the plate for one out, and Olivieri fired to first baseman Venuti for the third out.

Revere (1-9) made things tight with two unearned runs in the sixth. Anderson led off with a single, and John DeSimone followed that up with another single. The Blue boxed the ball around, committing two errors on two ground balls, allowing Anderson and DeSimone to score.  Sullivan shook it off and whiffed two to get out of the inning.

Calichman said it wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win, especially on a tough day on the road against a conference opponent.

“We’ll take it, we’re 8-2 now, there were things I didn’t like, but Gavin pitched great and we got a win, so we’ll go from there,” Calichman said.

“We’ve been struggling this year,” Brinkley said. “This was a moral victory for us, we competed hard on a crummy day against a good pitcher and a good team, we battled the whole way.”

A nice touch of Americana

By STEVE KRAUSE

 

Everywhere you look, baseball is losing traction as America’s pastime.

It no longer seems to be the top sport of choice among young people. Maybe this is because there’s too much standing around and not enough action. Perhaps it’s because Major League Baseball markets the most important component of the summer game — the World Series — by playing it on chilly autumn nights.

What was once a nice, crisp under-three-hour game now takes upwards of four hours, thanks in part to television, and thanks to pitchers who are afraid to throw the ball over the plate and hitters who are afraid to swing the bat. And let’s not even get into how many times batters step in and out of the box.

But bless baseball. It revels in its archaic reputation. It is steeped in tradition. Where other sports start their seasons simply by playing, baseball has extensively-staged ceremonies that harken back to a time when the sport was a celebration of new beginnings, both for itself and the American rhythm of life.

And that brings us to today. It is opening day for three of Lynn’s five Little Leagues, Pine Hill, Wyoma and West Lynn (the other two had theirs last week), as well as Saugus National. And just like the men they want to emulate, Little Leagues do it up right for their opening day. All the kids gather in their newly-distributed, nice, clean uniforms and their brand-new hats and they form a parade from a designated spot to their fields. Perhaps they’re escorted by a police cruiser, or a firetruck. Whatever, for that brief moment, on what is usually a chilly April morning, the streets, and our hearts, are theirs.

What defines Americana more than seeing eight-year-old kids whose uniforms look about six sizes too big, and whose hats are falling down over their eyes, and whose gloves look about as big on them as the brontosaurus steak Fred Flintstone got at the car hop?

Little Leagues take cues from the Major Leaguers in every way. The bunting is festooned all over the outfield fences, there are usually politicians there, and there’s bound to be a speech or two.

This proves to a difficult trick in Lynn, as two of the three leagues have scheduled their festivities for 9 a.m., with West Lynn’s at 10. The only other time city officials have to make such choices on where to go is on July 4, when just about every neighborhood has a horribles parade.

It’s also a day to revel in America, as every festivity will include the national anthem and/or a salute to the flag.

Finally, Little League opening day is a time to celebrate all that Little League was originally intended to be: kids getting together, having fun, and learning a little bit about a sport that was, when it was founded in 1939 in Williamsport, PA, an indelible part of American culture. The accent was on participating, coaching, and teaching by example.

These days, youth sports go year-round. There are just too many organizations whose aims seem to be to weed out the exceptional kids and focus on them. But to me, Little League is more about the kids who are in there learning, swinging the bat and striking out a few times and scuffing their feet in the dirt as they had back to the dugout, with their heads hanging, just like the big leaguers do. There will always be a place for the naturals. The rest of the kids need attention and validation too, and the good thing about Little League is that until the different communities select their all-star teams and play for a shot at the World Series, those other kids  get their chance to compete against the so-called elite and see how they stack up. The organization discourages “super teams.” This isn’t to see there aren’t any, but stacking them involves a tremendous amount of creative planning, and certainly not worth the effort of anyone save deranged parents who use Little League and other youth sports to compensate for failed childhood athletic endeavors.

So congratulations to all the small-sized kids with the large-sized unis; and to all the kids who have coerced their parents to go out and spend untold money on baseball cleats, batting gloves and other pieces of equipment that allow them, for the brief time they wear it, to imagine that they’re David Ortiz or Dustin Pedroia. Because that’s what it’s all about.