Winthrop’s Mike Eruzione inducted in to MIAA Hall of Fame
By Cary Shuman
The most famous Olympic hockey player of all time is now officially an MIAA sports legend as well.
Winthrop’s Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 Gold Medal-winning U.S.A. hockey team, was inducted in to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Hall of Fame at the “Legends” event Monday at Gillette Stadium.
Eruzione was a three-sport (football, hockey, and baseball) standout at Winthrop High School and wrapped up his career with an appearance in the Harry Agganis All-Star Football Classic at Manning Bowl in Lynn. He continued his exceptional ice hockey career at Boston University where he scored 100 goals and was drafted by the New England Whalers.
He became captain of the 1980 U.S.A. Olympic team and scored the winning goal in the Americans’ 4-3 upset of the Soviet Union in the semifinals. Two days later, Eruzione and Company claimed the gold medal with a 4-2 win over Finland.
Sports Illustrated later proclaimed Eruzione and the team’s achievement as the greatest sports moment of the 20th century. Winthrop’s favorite son was a genuine national sports hero and remains so nearly 40 years later.
Mike Eruzione, a proud Winthrop High Viking Class of 1972, joined Dick Jauron (Swampscott), Matt Hasselbeck (Xaverian), Jerry Remy (Somerset), Sarah Behn (Foxboro), and the late Tony Conigliaro (St. Mary’s, Lynn) as recipients of the MIAA’s highest individual athletic honor.
Former WBZ-TV sportscaster Bob Lobel and ESPN reporter Jackie MacMullan interviewed Eruzione and the other honorees during a forum that was enjoyed by the many guests in attendance.
Eruzione was asked about his earliest years in hockey as a youth growing up in Winthrop.
“They used to freeze the tennis courts down the street and that’s where I started skating,” said Eruzione. “My sister had these white figure skates that I fit into. We didn’t have a lot of money in the house. My parents weren’t just going to buy you equipment because you wanted to do it. You had to show them that you wanted to do it.”
Eruzione recalled that his mother saved up S & H Green Stamps and redeemed them for a pair of hockey skates. “So that’s basically how it started,” he said.
Eruzione said he lived in a three-family house back then, “which I live next door to now.”
“We lived on the second floor and I had four sisters and a brother,” said Eruzione. “Upstairs was my mother’s brother, who married my father’s sister and there were five kids in their family. On the first floor was my father’s other sister and there were three kids in that family. We all grew up in the same home, we all went to Winthrop High School and we all played football, hockey, and baseball, and my cousin [Tony Fucillo] went on to coach there for many years. It was a great place to live, and we still have a great, loving, caring family. Winthrop is a great place to live and I still live there now.”
Lobel told Eruzione that the goal that he scored against the Russians (“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”) and the gold medal game (“This impossible dream comes true.”) still gives people “that feeling in your heart that that was really something.”
Eruzione reflected, “It was a moment, I think, that touched a lot of lives. I’m a big Boston sports fan, but the Olympics are different. You represent your country and I think that’s what separates Olympic moments from other sporting events. And I think that’s what separated our moment. We touched the lives of a lot of people in a good way and you don’t get an opportunity to do that very often in sports and we were able to do that.”
Eruzione’s wife, Donna, and three children, LeighAnn, Michael Jr., and Paul were among the many guests in attendance. While Donna witnessed first hand how the country stood up and cheered for the 1980 Olympians and the euphoric reception that Mike enjoyed upon his return to Winthrop from Lake Placid, the ceremony was surely another moment of sheer proudness for their three children who no doubt know by now that when it comes to bringing national pride to U.S. sports teams, their father has earned his place on the Mount Rushmore of Olympic athletes.
And his high school athletic career was pretty special, too.
A Champion of Golf
Casey O’Leary inducted in to the
St. Mary’s High School Hall of Fame
By Cary Shuman
Casey O’Leary said his walk to the Winthrop Golf Club would take seven minutes. By car, it was a mere three minutes.
Having a golf course in the town and living so close to the long-time Winthrop treasure paid dividends for O’Leary.
A frequent visitor to the course, O’Leary refined his skills and became a talented junior golfer.
“I played a ton of golf as a kid,” said O’Leary. “I was a junior member and probably averaged over 100 rounds a year. A lot of times, we played from sun up to sun down.”
O’Leary played two seasons at Winthrop High School under head coach Andy Guarino and compiled an excellent 14-2-2 record. He transferred to St. Mary’s High School in Lynn for his junior and senior seasons and he and his team were basically unbeatable.
Playing at the top of the St. Mary’s team ladder and serving as a captain in his senior year, the 5-foot-11-inch O’Leary led the Spartans to two undefeated seasons and two Massachusetts state golf titles. He was twice named a Boston Globe All-Scholastic and was Globe Player of the Year in his senior season.
“Casey was a tremendous contributor to our program and the success of our teams,” said Jeff Newhall, who was coach of O’Leary’s senior-year title team. “His leadership was outstanding. He set a great example for the younger players with his dedication, his respect for the game, his grace under pressure, and his desire to keep improving his skills.”
O’Leary and his teams were inducted in to the St. Mary’s High School Varsity Club Hall of Fame at a ceremony in May at the school’s Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium.
O’Leary’s participation in sports had a positive influence on his younger sister, Erin, who became an outstanding soccer player at Winthrop High School. Erin graduated from Elon College and is now a teacher in the Chelsea school system.
“I would say our athletic talent probably came from my father [Daniel] while the mental fortitude certainly came from my mother [Paula],” said O’Leary.
Now 29 and a sales manager for Desalitech in Newton, O’Leary looks back at the state titles and the Globe All-Scholastic recognition with pride. He is one of the few athletes in town history to be a two-time Globe All-Scholastic.
“It was awesome to be a state champion,” said O’Leary. “Those are some of the best times of my life. We had a lot of fun. We were very fortunate to not only win two state titles but to be a part of a Hall of Fame-inducted team.”
O’Leary briefly attended Methodist University in North Carolina before transferring to Salem State University where he played one season in the men’s golf program, recording three, top-10 finishes in tournaments.
O’Leary remains an avid golfer at the Winthrop Golf Club, where he serves as tournament director. He competes in all the club tournaments, having just won the WGC Ryder Cup (best-ball tournament) with his teammate, Shawn Hagan. He lost in the semifinals of last year’s Club Championships but hopes to take home the crown later this summer.
His favorite all-time pro golfer?
“It’s been the same for a long time: David Duval,” said O’Leary. “Growing up, I liked his fiery style and the fact he worked with what he had. He’s a former world No. 1 player. I know he didn’t have a great latter half of his career, but I enjoyed watching him go toe-to-toe with Tiger in their heyday.”
From the Press Box
The Blue Devils
By: Jim Lederman
I have been asked many times, when did the Winthrop athletic teams begin their moniker as the Vikings? In the 50’s – Winthrop athletic teams were the ‘Blue Devils.’
I have enclosed a picture of the 1958 – WHS Blue Devils (see on next page) football team – 60 years ago! Where are they now?
The 1958 Vikings coached by the late Ed MacFarland, played in the ‘old’ Northeastern Conference. The NEC consisted of Amesbury, Newburyport, Swampscott, Woburn, Marblehead, Danvers and Andover.
The 1958 Blue Devils won five games, lost three and tied one. The ‘Big Blue’ won the NEC, led by George Blais and defeated Winthrop (22-0).
The Blue Devils played Danvers on Thanksgiving and tied (6-6). The Turkey Day Rivalry with Revere was renewed in 1964 after an 18-year period, following a fight in 1945.
The 1958 Blue Devils were led by halfbacks Mike Williams and Bobby Milne. Mike played at the University of Southern Illinois; Bob was all-Ivy league at Cornell University.
Winthrop dominated the NEC in basketball. The (1958-1959) team coached by John P. Sheehan, won the NEC title for the third consecutive year. Arnie Springer, led the NEC in scoring, named all scholastic, Arnie starred at Brandeis University and is in the Winthrop High School Athlete Hall of Fame.
Springer held the WHS scoring record of 42 points in a victory over Woburn. In 1973 Chris Tsiotos established a new NEC scoring record, dropping in 53 points in the final game at Saugus.
The 1964 Vikings captured the NEC football title with an undefeated team, led by Steve ‘The Tank’ Adamson. This was the first ‘undefeated’ Vikings championship squad.
The Viking colors were established – Blue and Gold!
Let the Games Begin!
The Agganis Classic
This week was the Harry Agganis Week in Lynn. The Agganis Games serve as a fundraiser for the ‘Foundation,’ which annually awards college scholarships to deserving high school seniors.
Including this year the ‘Foundation’ has awarded $1,955,000 to 964 student-athletes since its inception in 1955.
The ‘Golden Greek’ Harry Agganis, was the greatest athlete in the history of Lynn.
Harry played at Boston University, he could of played pro football (he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Harry chose baseball and he was playing first base for the Boston Red Sox.
Harry was the starting first baseman and was hitting over .300, when he was struck with a bronchial infection. He died June 27th.
Viking athletes playing in the Agganis games this week are: Gabriella Hinchion in girl’s soccer, Jessica Martin in girl’s softball. Devin Pulsifer and Tayjuan McKenzie in basketball, Calvin Tufa, playing in the Agganis All-Star football game to night (Thursday) at Manning Field.
In 1994, Anthony ‘Touchdown Tony’ Palmer had the honor of wearing Harry Agganis number 33. Anthony was named MVP of the game, leading his team to victory.
In 2005, Anthony Fucillo, was named MVP leading his team to victory in the classic, played at Bertram Field in Salem, while the new Manning Field was under construction.
Swampscott had five players on the team led by quarterback Colin Frary. St. Mary’s of Lynn had three players led by running back Calvin Johnson. Lynnfield has five players in the Classic.
Are you ready for football!
Let the Games Begin!