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~ Malden Musings ~ “National Italian American Sports Hall of Famer Dom Sardo”

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By Peter Levine


Dom Sardo is going into yet another Hall of Fame. He continues on this path; he’ll catch up to Steve Freker eventually. Dominic was selected for induction into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (NIASHF) along with another gentleman named Thomas DiBenedetto. This is a big deal! Out of the many worthy athletes of Italian descent throughout the New England region, our Dom Sardo was chosen above them all!

I love Dom Sardo! Always did. We all do. If you know him, you just adore the guy – a real sweetheart of a man and a true gentleman.

Malden, please show your support for one of our best and brightest. Old friends, ex-teammates, “Cave” dwellers from the old Y days! Purchase a ticket. Buy a table. Have a fun afternoon and salute an outstanding human being, Mr. Dominic Sardo. The dinner and induction ceremony are at Anthony’s on Canal Street on October 15, and tickets can be reserved (for a table or a single) by contacting NIASHF organizers Dave Caiazzo at 781-507-3005 or davecaipitching@gmail.com or Paul Solano at psfinserve@aol.com.

Dominic was a two-time national champ and one-time world champion weightlifter as well as a Hall of Fame wrestler at Malden High. According to very reliable sources (Dave O’Brien), Dom was the first ever Malden wrestler to win a sectional tournament (O’B was second – one hour later, by the way). Dom Sardo amazing fact: Dominic was a Pop Warner inside linebacker the year they won the GBL championship in 1971 – weighing less than a hundred pounds. Holy cow!

Dom speaks: “How do I feel about the induction? I feel honored and humbled. I feel the journey to accomplish things like this is far better than the accolades you reach. Taught me just because you win a world championship doesn’t make you better than anyone else. You may be better that one day, for a brief moment. But then, you still have life challenges. Which in fact, all the work and sacrifices you make when training to compete, prepare and help you throughout life’s challenges. Yes, I was a world champion and did very well in the sport, but I still pay $2 plus for a cup of coffee, people still cut me off in traffic and I am still afraid of the dentist. I believe growing up in Malden and hanging around who we hung around with taught me to be proud, work harder than anyone else and respect competitors. Best compliment I have ever received was a kid, I forget where he was from. He said to me, ‘the one thing I remember about kids from Malden was, if you fought one of them, you had to fight all of them.’ It wasn’t so much about the fighting, but to me, it was about how proud we were and how we always stuck together.”

Go figure! Looks like the Levine brothers – Joe and Peter – had a small hand in Dom’s emergence as one of the best power lifters in the country. I’ll let Dom explain: “The Levine’s had a lot to do with me doing well with the power lifting success. Every Saturday morning when we lined up against the wall at the (old) YMCA to play basketball the Levine brothers were usually captains, and I would be last picked (if I was lucky). However, 99% of the time I never got picked. So, I would go down to the weight room to do something while you, Joe and all my friends would play basketball. Again, thanks I appreciate it.”

Ouch. Joe and I knew “this world is rough and if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough” so we thought not picking you would be the best thing for your personal growth, Dom. Glad we could be of help. Insert smiley face.

Congratulations, my friend, from Joe and I!

Breaking news…Maxim Magazine 2009 “Hometown Hottie” semifinalist and 2008 Barstool Sports Magazine “Sexiest Bartender” cover girl Nicole Hirtle has recently started a new gig as a “celebrity bartender” for Bar Babes Boston, Nicole being one of the celebrity bartenders on a star-studded roster of celebrity bartenders. Nicole grew up in Melrose. She was captain of the Melrose High School cheerleading squad in 2000 and has very strong Malden ties. Her grandfather was Washington Street guy Mike Picillo, bartender at the Moose for many years and best pals with the Dorazios. Her “Auntie Doris” was married to Dominic DiGiammarino from the legendary DiGiammarino clan out of Edgeworth. Her second cousin is early 1960s singing sensation Susan Capone (MHS 1960, I believe). Her mom Pam (Picillo) graduated MHS in 1975 (and was one of the prettiest girls in the class), going on to toil at the Post Office on Mountain Avenue for way too many years. In the 1950s/1960s, her uncle Henry (Picillo) owned everybody’s favorite hot dog joint, Joe & Nemo’s in the Square. She is cousin to Jimmy “Two Suits” Capone (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, flute) from the renowned house rockin’ blues/soul band Bellevue Cadillac. Her sister Angela (Falzarano) is an award-winning real estate agent out of Peabody. And she is the loving niece of longtime and much-beloved Malden High School educator, now retired – the legendary – Marguerite (Picillo) Gonsalves. Bar Babes Boston is a “mobile bar” servicing all of Massachusetts. Weddings, corporate parties, baby showers, bar mitzvahs and everything in between. You provide the booze; they do the rest. More information on their services can be found at barbabesboston.com. Fun Nicole Hirtle facts: Nick loves Instagram, sour pickles, All Seasons Table/Douglas Tran, her five-year-old baby boy Jack and sleeping all day.

Please don’t hate on us just because we grew up with the best pop music ever! I was 13; Devir Park was my backyard playland/second home; and my transistor radio was always turned on and up (WMEX!). There’ll never be another year musically like 1970! A great example of my boastful claim; take a small peek and try to argue otherwise:

  • “The Wonder of You” Elvis
  • “Spirit in the Sky” Norman Greenbaum (many of us in 1970 Malden did not know yet that Norman was from Malden)
  • “The Long and Winding Road” Beatles
  • “Ball of Confusion” Temptations
  • “Daughter of Darkness” Tom Jones
  • “Instant Karma” John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band
  • “Love or Let Me Be Lonely” Friends of Distinction
  • “Gimme Dat Ding” Pipkins
  • “The Seeker” The Who
  • “United We Stand” Brotherhood of Man
  • “Don’t It Make You Wanna Go Home” Brook Benton
  • “Westbound #9” The Flaming Embers

As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character Columbo would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – Ghost Stories from Malden’s Past (1979): Hard to believe it’s been 44 years since this epic night in Edgeworth history. The headline in the Malden Evening News screamed, “Malden’s ITAM Club bans ‘Disco Dances.’” Dancing to disco was all the rage in the late ’70s! The Stones went disco! The Who went disco! Heck, even Malden’s premier lounge act at the time, “The C Notes,” went disco (RIP, dear friend Phil Longo). But there will be no more “disco dances” at the Italian American War Veterans Club on Oakland Street due to some unruly Medford hooligans and the age-old twin evils of low beer prices and pulsating dance rhythms. You know, teenagers and young adults engaged in suggestive, stimulating and tantalizing motions induced by the provocative rhythms of music. Insert smiley face. According to written reports, there were differing accounts of how the brawl actually started. Party crashers, 60 cent Heinekens, no police detail, jealous boyfriends and overcrowding were cited as contributing to the melee. At the height of the brawl, according to those on the scene, people were “yelling, screaming, swearing, fighting, and throwing beer bottles, glasses, and chairs both inside the building and in the parking lot.” Seven young people from Medford were arrested and arraigned for idle and disorderly conduct in front of Judge Maurice Flynn, but four others were only brought in for “protective custody.” They were released once they were “sober.” Malden good guy (the late) Patrolman Al Macy suffered a “pinched neck nerve” trying to quell the disturbance. ITAM spokesman Arthur Skinner prohibited “disco dances” going forward. In the spirit of full disclosure, my associates and I were in attendance but rest assured – nobody from Edgeworth or the ITAMS were involved. All members acted like the “perfect gentlemen” they always were (insert smiley face).

Postscript 1: Brian Carroll! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing the news of Dominic’s induction onto my radar screen. Brian is from that fabulous MHS Class of 1976 that showed the rest of Malden how to party hearty during the Bicentennial Year of our great country. Bonesy and his big brother Peter (Panama) Carroll are what make Malden so great. Their Amerige Park bona fides are written in stone – both inducted into the “Malden Musings” Hall of Fame many years ago. Panama and Bonesy, legendary Maldonians, neither of them requiring a Facebook page/presence to have their passion for community felt in these five square miles of real estate. Malden loves you both and thank you.

Postscript 2: “Life is like the seasons, after winter comes the spring, so I’ll keep this smile awhile, and see what tomorrow brings.” Rest in peace, Donna Pisaturo, Dom Fermano Jr., Elizabeth Norton, Joe Casaletto, Joe Fermano, Norina Firmani, Gary Lopresti, “Big Dan” Ryan, Bill “Cookie” Cook and Judith (Gamby) Busconi.


—Peter is a longtime Malden resident and a regular contributor to The Malden Advocate. He can be reached at PeteL39@aol.com for comments, compliments or criticism.

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