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Malden today, tomorrow and yesterday – the Devir Park Bandstand

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  Speaking of Devir Park…the 1958-1963 New York City–based crime show “Naked City” had a tag line, “There are 8 million stories in the naked city…” Just as in the Naked City, there are 8 million stories that have taken place at Devir Park. Here is but one…

  Kevin Larson is now one of the tribal elders. His Malden street cred goes back. Way back. If he wasn’t directly involved in the story, he was indirectly involved in the story. And the stories are plentiful. You may know Kevin as a Malden watchdog of sorts. The famed interlocutor has a long history over the years of placing pointed, insightful letters to the editors challenging the powers that be. Or you may know him as the guy who “married up” when he wed that lovely gal from Medford, his best friend Trish, 34 years ago this month. The marrying up line famously uttered by Kevin’s late father, Jack.

  Kevin remembers a night back in 1973 (?) when the Bandstand crowd bum rushed Augustine A’s Manager Steve Ring over a financial matter. Kevin remembers the evening of the altercation at Devir Park vividly and fondly. On this very warm evening, he remembers, one of the young Bandstand ruffians and Steve Ring jawing back and forth about payment for raking the infield. Kevin remembers (his brother) Ed saying, “Ohhh boy, here we go.” The Damiano brothers were present, as well as Mark “Fox” Anastas. Kevin continued, “If memory serves me right, I also recall Steve Ring having an issue with Bob Covelle about broken windows being paid for. Bob put his lawn chair on home plate and sat there holding up the game until such payment was made. My brother Ed did a hat collection real quick ordered by Steve Ring. Fourteen dollars was raised. Ed would tell that story all the time.” Thanks for the memories, Kevin.

  Here is (another) little Devir Park story, this one taken from the archives; 1973 was a tumultuous year for Devir Park. Walter “splendid idea, place a large brick building in the middle of Malden Square and shoppers will flock to it” Kelliher was Mayor. According to then Ward 2 Councillor Billy Callahan, the neoclassical, Doric-columned field house (the Bandstand as we called it) had become an “eyesore” and a hangout for “unruly” young people. At one of the City Council meetings, Councillor Callahan proposed a “Resolve” to the City Council. According to written accounts, “passionate wrangling ensued at the meeting.” Callahan lost his temper, and at one point one of the younger observers supporting the rehabilitation of the Bandstand broke into tears. I remember the meeting vaguely, not enough of it to remember this ruckus. The “Resolve” passed 6-5. Those voting to tear the Bandstand down – thus ruining our summer –were Callahan, James Murphy, Philip Elfman, Herbert Jackson, Paul Bartlett and (then) Councillor-Representative Jimmy Conway. Those voting against (and forever remaining near and dear in our hearts) were William Patchell, Neil Callahan, John O’Neill, Tom Cosgrove and a woman who was way ahead of her time, Amelia Miclette. Again, according to written accounts “prospects for improved neighborhood harmony seemed better due to the YMCA Outreach Program organizing youth activities in various parts of the city.” Thank you, Greg Albert (Director) of the program. Thank you, Ronny Cox and Peggy Stallings and Allen Wynne and Paul O’Toole and all the rest of the dedicated Outreach staff who helped prolong the life of the Band Stand another five or so years.

  A missive from my pal Mike: “Hi Peter, Mike Picardo here, you know, Harvey’s friend!!! Just wondering if your column/newspaper covers the city of Everett? If so, not sure if you are aware, but 2 Everett High School Players, circa 2017 graduating class and Mass. Super Bowl Champions were drafted by the NFL this past week. Names are Lewis Cines from University of Georgia, drafted in first round by the Minnesota Vikings and Isaiah Likely from Coastal Carolina University by the Baltimore Ravens. I don’t have to tell you the odds of being drafted, but for 2 players to be drafted from the same high school in the same year doesn’t happen very often if at all. As I say, not sure if Everett news is on your radar but if it is this is worth mentioning don’t you think. Your call!! If you need more info on their behalf, Freddy Merchant would be a good source. Thanks for listening. Take care.” Thanks Mike. I’ll be doing something on Isaiah soon. We’re claiming him as one of our own!

  More musings from the inimitable pen of the late John O’Brien, whose wit and wisdom endeared him to generations of Malden High School students, Maldonians and faculty at MHS. These baseball-related “Musings” from April 18, 1974, are truly priceless. I usually don’t attempt to explain John’s work, but I am making an exception this time, so I don’t lose too many readers:

  • I’d trade the nylons of Greta Garbo for one good sock by Bernie Carbo. [My note: Garbo was a Swedish-American movie star of the 1930’s and 1940’s regarded as one of the greatest actresses to ever grace the silver screen. In 1974 Carbo was one year away from immortality as a member in good standing of the “Buffalo Heads” – hitting his most memorable home run in the 1975 World Series for the Red Sox, a three-run pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 6 off the Red’s Rawly Eastwick – tying the score at 6. The contest would end in the 12th when (Carlton) Fisk famously clouted a walk-off homer.]
  • Goodbye, Ken Brett, hello, Roger Moret. [My note: this was just a little play on words by O’B. Brett, who at 18 had been the youngest player to ever pitch in a World Series game (1967 Sox against the Cards) was traded by 1971 and was long gone when this was written in 1974. Moret’s star shined brightly for the early 1970’s Sox – culminating with World Series appearances in 1975 – gone to the Braves the next year.]
  • Cepeda was a centipede when he hit a fly. [My note: future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda played the 1973 season as the Sox’ very first Designated Hitter. The Baby Bull had a fine season but being hampered by injuries made him a liability on the bases; hence John’s snarky remark about Cepeda’s not running out every at bat.]
  • Louisville Slugger labels feature Babe in the wood.
  • Don’t sell Bob Short. [My note: owner of the old Washington Senators baseball team and an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota.]
  • Is the National Pastime past its time?
  • If the Museum of Fine Arts merged with Suffolk Downs, we’d have the mummies and the mudders.
  • Do you give a darn about the Sox?
  • Don Buddin, Don Buddin, nobody misses you. [My note: Sox bonus baby who at the time Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey boasted, “Buddin can become one of the top ballplayers of his time.” Out of baseball in 6 years with a .241 average.
  • How can a fork ball miss the plate?
  • Aaron may have passed Ruth in the record book, but Henry will never pass aardvark in the dictionary.
  • Baseball is the national pastime. Hockey is the national present time.
  • Pesky would be great as a public address announcer at a funeral parlor. [My note: Johnny Pesky may have gone on to be a Red Sox icon but his in-booth work left a lot to be desired.]
  • Juan Beniquez plus Juan Marichal equals two good ballplayers.
  • What’s so great about (Carlton) Fisk? I turned on my set and caught a whole game.
  • Is this the era of the E.R.A.?
  • Just think of the bonus they’d give to Honus if Wagner were alive today.

  “This is the end, beautiful friend, this is the end, my only friend, the end” – congratulations to Johnny “Meets” Mehos on surviving 35 years, five months, and 12 days working as a beast of burden for the USPS. A few months back Johnny was preceded in retirement by Peter Myles, who also survived year after year of the most grueling working conditions known to civilized man – Peter and John getting out with their sanity and good looks still intact. These letter carriers are real heroes worthy of our admiration and praise. John, I wish for you many years of “retirement” happiness. You certainly deserve it. “Meets” is one of the good guys (not only because he is from Edgeworth, insert smiley face). Maldonians, please remember these hardworking individuals around the holiday season. I’m talking lots of green stuffed placed in an envelope with some kind words for these modern-day warriors.

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