There are basically two things that distinguish Swampscott from other towns of its size that dot the Massachusetts landscape, it’s championships and legacies.
For a community of only roughly 13,000 people, there’s plenty of both.
Saturday, at the Salem Waterfront Hotel, the Big Blue celebrated its 12th Athletic Hall of Fame induction. And true to its nature the evening focused, whether it said so in so many words, on legacies and champions.
No. 1 in the legacy department was the dedication of the evening to Dick Lynch, the former assistant football coach and head basketball coach, and all-around great guy, who died a year ago April 15. Lynch was the emcee for the previous 11 ceremonies, and his son, Channel 5 sports anchor Mike (also a Big Blue Hall of Famer), did a great job in this dinner.
And, keeping it in the family, his daughter Tara Kalinowski — still another Lynch Hall of Famer — was on the committee.
The committee honored the 1993 state champion baseball team, two of whose members, sophomores Todd McShay and Brendan Nolan, were also inducted.
The others inductees were Dean Andersen, Class of ’65; Ann Balliro, ’89; Greg Brand, ’70; Dave Dembowski, ’90; William Friberg, ’42; Jack Hughes, ’69; Bob Jauron, ’67; and Walter (Carl) Kester, ’69.
The baseball team came into the ’93 season expecting great things, and only lost one regular-season game (in which McShay was the losing pitcher).
Then, the Big Blue blasted their way through the state tournament. Standouts were Kevin Rogers (11-0 on the mound), who was named a high school All-American; pitcher/infielder Brian Hayes, senior pitcher/designated hitter Mike DeSimone and first baseman J.J. Doherty.
However, the real story of the team was the success the players achieved off the field in the years after they graduated.
McShay, who also quarterbacked the football team, learned how to break down film while at Richmond College. From there, he became a college football analyst for ESPN, where he spars regularly with Mel Kiper Jr.
Peter Woodfork is an executive for Major League Baseball. Traeger DiPietro is an accomplished artist. Todd Kline is an executive for the Washington Redskins. And David Portnoy established Barstool Sports.
If Swampscott prides itself on its athletic legacy, Jauron is the official chronicler of the days when the Big Blue ruled high school football in Massachusetts. The older brother of Dick Jauron (who made it all the way up to being the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 2001 while with the Chicago Bears), Bob Jauron’s book “Big Blue Days” told of the football legacy established by coach Stan Bondelevitch, and about some of the players who helped create those glory days.
However, Jauron also recently completed a distinguished 37-year legal career.
Legacy and championships help define the other inductees too. Andersen played three sports at Swampscott, and is now a golf pro. His father, Ty Andersen, is one of the pioneering hockey coaches from the area and is also in the Swampscott Hall of Fame, as is his brother, Ty.
Staying on that theme, Dave Dembowski played football for the Big Blue in the late 80s, one year behind his brother, Steve, who played and coached the sport at Swampscott.
David Dembowski went onto play for the University of New Hampshire and is now a media executive in Connecticut.
In fact, the legacy theme is so strong with this class that one of its inductees, Balliro, said in her biography that she was most proud “of the legacy and spirit” created by the teams on which she played.
Sometimes, you get both. Brand left quite a legacy, first as a football player who was part of those Bondelevitch glory days, and played a big part in the Big Blue’s 32-game unbeaten streak. Later, he played professionally with the Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills.
Friberg, whose father, Bernie, played Major League baseball, was a standout athlete himself, and received two Bronze Stars in World War II.
Kester has left an impressive legacy. After playing football during the Dick Jauron era at Swampscott High, Kester received a master’s degree at the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. at Harvard. Now, he is an economics professor at Harvard, where he has helped develop a program that helps NFL retirees manage their money.
Nolan was 12-2 and had a career .400 batting average with the Big Blue. A four-year starter, his teams went a combined 63-5. He also pitched for Boston College.
Finally, in the championship department, Hughes coached the 2009 girls basketball team to a state championship — its first ever. He also helped start the CYO basketball program in the town.