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~ Celebrating Black History Month ~

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Everett High School baseball may have played second-fiddle to football throughout the years, but there have been many baseball legends to come out of the Crimson Tide. Depending on when one attended EHS, the names Walter Sewell, Fred Milton, George Burnham, Frank and Matt Nuzzo, Ralph Young, Ron Luongo, Sam Gentile, George Brickley, Al Pierotti, Danny Silva, Sam Ali, Hub Hart, etc. all left their mark on the EHS nine of their day.

In 1924, however, the crowds came to watch a lanky southpaw pitcher named Elmer Munroe.

Elmer was one of three African-Americans on the Everett High squad, along with football star and outfielder “Jit” Taylor and a speedy, diminutive, freshman outfielder Edward “Zing” Rice. The team also included legendary Crimson Tide athletes “Bud” Terrio, Eddie Bond and Angie DiMott.

Elmer had incredible control over his pitches and while he would consistently rack up eight to fifteen strikeouts per game, it was his ability to locate his pitches and prevent hitters from getting solid wood on the ball, that was his claim to fame. When he was on his game, hits were hard to come by.

Munroe was not the most dominant pitcher in the Suburban League, however; that title belonged to Somerville’s Danny McFayden.

There was nothing about McFayden’s appearance that would lead one to believe that he was an ace. Bespectacled and standing at 5-10 and 160 pounds, Danny looked more like an accountant than a dominating hurler, but dominating he was. Throughout his high school career, he left hundreds of opposing batters shaking their heads as they walked back to the bench with their bats still on their shoulders.

On May 7, 1924, the Highlanders made the trip from Somerville to Everett to battle the Crimson Tide in what is considered the greatest pitchers’ duel in Massachusetts high school baseball history. The game featured the Suburban League’s first-place team versus the second place team and, more interestingly, Danny McFayden versus Elmer Munroe.

What was reported as the largest crowd ever to witness a Suburban League baseball game crowded into Glendale Park to witness what was expected to be a classic pitchers’ duel. They weren’t disappointed.

Things didn’t start off well for Elmer. He walked the first batter, who was then sacrificed to second base. An Everett error at shortstop gave Somerville its first run, but Munroe struck out the next two batters to avoid further damage.

Everett threatened in the bottom of the first when Rice tripled to lead off the frame. McFayden, however, reached back and struck out the next two batters before getting Eddie Bond to pop up to the shortstop.

With both pitchers tossing flawlessly, the score remained 1-0 until the eighth. Everett scored on two singles and a wild pitch by McFayden. Both teams would strand a runner on third; Somerville in the ninth and Everett in the 13th.

With the score tied 1-1 in the 17th inning, none of the spectators dared to leave the park. Munroe and McFayden had pitched the entire game and showed some signs of tiring.

Somerville led off the top of the 17th with a single; the runner was then sacrificed to second. The next batter singled, as well. The runner on second attempted to score, but was tagged out at the plate by Angie DiMott on a perfect throw by “Zing” Rice. Elmer retired the next batter and it was now Everett’s turn.

Elmer grounded out to start the inning. “Zing” Rice singled and stole second. Bud Terrio added a single, but Rice had to stop at third. The next batter, Eddie Bond, signaled to “Zing” that he intended to lay down sacrifice bunt. Without Coach Brickley’s knowledge, Bond sent a perfect bunt up the first base line and Rice flew across the plate. Everett had won the marathon game, 2-1.

The crowd cheered both pitchers at the game’s end. McFayden had struck-out an unbelievable 31 batters; while walking none. Munroe had struck-out 11, walked two, scattered six hits; only two of which reached the outfield. The fans had seen a masterpiece by two of the best that high school baseball had to offer. Years later, Danny McFayden would call this his favorite game, despite pitching two no-hitters during his Somerville career.

 McFayden and Munroe would be forever linked in high school lore, but their futures were determined by the racial attitudes of the day.

McFayden went on to pitch for 17 years in the major leagues; including 7 with the Boston Red Sox and 6 with the Boston Braves. Munroe, however, never got that chance. With Jackie Robinson’s debut 23 years away, there would be no opportunity for Elmer to make to the major leagues.

At only 19 years old and just a year out of high school, Elmer’s reputation caused him to be hired as head baseball coach by Calais Academy in Maine. Elmer, not wanting to be embarrassed, had contacted the school asking them if they knew he was black. In response, the school had sent him a telegram that read: “Color makes no difference. Come as soon as possible.”

Munroe would later pitch for clubs like the Boston Colored Tigers, the Cambridge City Club, the Hagan Club, Cuban All-Stars and the Boston Royal Giants. His teammates and opponents, including Danny McFayden, all believed that Elmer Munroe had major league talent.

“He had the stuff on the ball and the heart it takes to pitch in the majors.” – Danny McFayden on Elmer Munroe.

Major league talent that he would never get to display at that level.

Elmer died in 1970 at Boston City Hospital.

Dany McFayden
Elmer Munroe

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