2012 Induction Event: Story time for LHS Hall of Famers

Story time for LHS Hall of Famers

By Chaz Scoggins, chaz@lowellsun.comlowellsun.com    Updated: 11/16/2012 07:55:39 AM EST

DRACUT — The five newest members of the Lowell High School Athletic Hall of Fame were selected for their extraordinary individual talents and accomplishments. But, like the 135 athletes inducted before them, none of them could have done what what he or she did without the contributions of their teammates or the guidance from their coaches.

The 2012 Lowell High School Athletic Hall of Fame inductees and special guests at last night’s banquet at the Millhouse Restaurant: From left, Patrick Morasse (2002), Gail Reynolds Frank (Special Presentation/2010 inductee), Nick Lakin (1973), Trudy Vail Michel (Hall of Fame chairperson), Tabitha Hebert (2001), Larry Martin (standing in for Leighton “Buddy” Kimball, 1936), and Larry Machado (1979). SUN/DAVID BROW

So the word “team” was uttered countless times Thursday night when wrestler Nick Lakin, softball pitcher Tabitha Hebert, baseball pitcher Larry Machado, distance runner Patrick Morsasse, and football-baseball star Buddy Kimball were inducted.

Machado (Class of ’79), for example, had developed an inflated opinion of himself while playing in Lowell’s youth leagues.

“Growing up I always used to keep a baseball after every game and write something on it like ‘1-hitter’ or ‘3 for-5,'” Machado remembered. “I guess my dad thought I was getting too big of an ego.

“So after one bad game I came home and there there was a torn-up baseball in my room. It looked like it had been used all day on an asphalt infield. And my dad — who had great penmanship — had written on it: ‘Sharks 12, Dolphins 5. 4 innings, 11 hits, 9 walks, 1 strikeout.'”

Machado, who said he still has that beat-up old baseball, took the lesson to heart. He was playing left field for Lowell High as a junior and had barely pitched at all. And he took it in stride.

“We had a lot of good senior pitchers: Jimmy Shaughnessy, Scott Merrill … Danny McHale, a junior. Those guys were ahead of me,” he said.

Machado had pitched only four innings all spring when coach George Cunha pulled him out of left field to pitch in relief in an EMass Tournament game against Burlington. Machado hurled 10 innings of six-hit relief with 12 strikeouts, and although Lowell lost the game the lefty had won a job in the Raiders’ rotation. He was 8-1 as a senior with an 0.91 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 77 innings on a team that went 18-4, and he threw a no-hitter in his final regular-season start.

But the game Machado remembered best was one in which his own contributions were minimal, a tournament victory over Milton.

“That epitomized the team,” he said. “Late in the game we’re down 7-6, we have the bases loaded, two outs, two strikes on Jimmy Duggan. We pulled off a (two-run) suicide squeeze and then a first-and-third double steal, and in less than a minute, without really swinging the bat, we went from one run down to up two, and that turned the game around.

“It was a great year, and it was all about the team.”

Lakin (Class of ’73) was 29-3 on Lowell’s undefeated wrestling team in 1973. In a tense dual meet against a similarly unbeaten Chelmsford squad in front of an SRO crowd late that season, Lakin rallied from a 5-3 deficit after two periods to win his match 9-7 and help the Raiders win 34-21.

“We had a team. We had a family,” Lakin said. “Most of us have stayed friends over the years.”

In fact, the Chelmsford wrestler Lakin beat that night, Mike McLarney, later became his best friend and attended Thursday’s induction ceremonies.

“We wound up going to the same school (Massachusetts Maritime Academy) together. I introduced him to his wife,” Lakin said.

“It pretty much made me what I am today because of the discipline,” Lakin said of wrestling. “It teaches you to deal with adversity.”

Leighton “Buddy” Kimball (Class of ’36), who was inducted posthumously, was a two-sport star on Lowell High teams that featured LHS Hall of Famers Ray Riddick, Sr., Hank Mazur, Stan Stoklosa, Ed Murphy, Walter Weworski, and John Beaulieu.

Hebert (Class of ’01) thanked all of her coaches, but especially her father, who coached her the longest.

And she couldn’t have won one of the two most memorable games of her high school career without the help of her teammates, a 16-inning two-hit shutout against top-seeded Peabody in the 2000 EMass. Tournament.

“We were seeded something like 17th, and people were thinking we were going to lose,” she recalled. “But as I was pitching — and this might sound a little conceited — I thought to myself: ‘I’ve got this team.’ The farthest a runner got was to second base, and I knew it was just a matter of time before we could score.”

They did.

Morasse’s older brother Joe blazed the trail for him at Lowell High and later at UMass Lowell, where he won All-America honors five times.

“By the time I got to Lowell High and even UMass Lowell, everyone already knew who I was, and that made things easier for me,” Morasse (Class of ’02) said.

At the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, in the final two races of his college career, Morasse paid homage to both his alma maters.

Compelled to run both the 800 meters and 1500 meters in races just 30 minutes apart, he earned All-America laurels in both events. He wore his UMass Lowell shirt in the first race and his old Lowell High shirt in the second.

“Both shirts said Lowell,” he said. “The plan was if I qualified for the finals in both events, I’d wear the UMass Lowell jersey in one and Lowell High in the other.

“Either way, I was representing Lowell.”

And Thursday night, five more of Lowell’s best representatives were honored for their achievements. And those of their teams.

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