The Boston Park League, the nation’s oldest amateur baseball league, begins its 65th season tomorrow, and as usual, Milton resident and Mass. Envelope general manager John Kelliher will be part of the proceedings.
When Mass. Envelope won the league title last year, it marked Kelliher’s 11th Park League championship as either a manager or GM in a career that dates back to 1939, when he played for the old Hurley Club of Roxbury after graduating from Roxbury Memorial High.
“I’m retired from the MBTA now, so I’ve got more time to devote to baseball,” said the former Red Sox and Brooklyn Dodgers farmhand, “and I’m really looking forward to this season. Each spring, I kind of get rejuvenated because of baseball.”
The Park League, which features top college players from the Greater Boston area, plus a few high school standouts and former minor leaguers, has been rejuvenated itself with financial support from the Tom Yawkey Foundation and a boost from the Red Sox, as its All-Star Game will take place at Fenway Park in mid-July — a first for the Park League.
The season will kick off with three games tomorrow, the featured contest starting at 7 p.m. on Bill Stewart Diamond at Roslindale’s Fallon Field, where Mass. Envelope, managed by Jim Mello, takes on Triple D’s.
Mayor Flynn, a standout pitcher in the Park League 30 seasons ago, will throw out the ceremonial first ball and receive a plaque commemorating his support of the league during his nine years in office.
“I always thought, and I still do, that the Park League games are a great opportunity for families and young people to get out and watch baseball,” said Kelliher, who managed the St. Paul’s Club and Connolly Club in past seasons. “I can even remember back in the ’30s, when the Red Sox weren’t going too well, when we used to outdraw them. I can still name you a player from the Park League at each position who went on to play in the major leagues.”
According to league president Eddie Miller and secretary/treasurer Walt Mortimer, both former Park League standouts, the circuit is in a strong position financially because of the Red Sox and the Yawkey Foundation. There had been rumblings in recent years that the league was in danger of folding because of the economy and budget cuts in the city.
“Fiscally, the league is in solid shape for this year and into next year,” said Miller. “For that, we can thank John Harrington and the Red Sox and Bill Gutfarb of the Yawkey Foundation. We also hope to sell an ad book this year to help defray costs.”
The league will once again play three or four nights a week for nine weeks — a total of 32 games per team — and the regular season will end July 23. Playoffs begin the following week.
“Having John Kelliher around for another season really ties a lot of the eras together,” said Miller. “He’s like a father figure to a lot of guys associated with the league, and he’s been a steadying influence. And he’s still really sharp at bringing top players into the league. He’s usually associated with a winner.”
Copyright © 1993 Boston Globe, all rights reserved. Written by Marvin Pave.