LAWRENCE – To legions of Central Catholic students over decades, it’s been known simply as “the small gym.”
To Marc Pelletier, it is home to his pride and joy, the Central Catholic Baseball program.
“That small gym, it’s all we have ... and we get so much out of it,” said Pelletier. “It’s got to be hundreds of times that we’ve gone out and played MVC games the day after practicing in that small gym.”
It’s become a symbol of pride. And some 27 seasons later, it’s a place to celebrate as well. Pelletier, a Central grad himself, was recently elected to the Mass. Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In a ceremony at the Double Tree Hotel in Westborough on January 25, Pelletier will be inducted along with three others.
“When I found out, I was just probably as humbled as I’ve ever been,” said Pelletier. “A kid grows up in a three-family house in Lawrence, and all of a sudden makes the Hall of Fame. This goes to all the thousands of kids over the years, who’ve made a coach look good.”
Pelletier, whose program really doesn’t have a home practice or game field, has racked up an impressive 330-225 mark over the 26 seasons, qualifying in 22 of the 26 years for the state tournament. His teams have won seven MVC titles and one North championship, back in 1993.
“We always seem to find a way in to the tournament, and I’d love to go back and list some of the amazing ways we accomplished it,” said Pelletier.
Tewksbury High coach Ron Drouin, an MBCA executive committee member, spoke on Pelletier’s behalf at the Hall of Fame Committee meeting.
“Being the one private school in a public school league isn’t easy, but Marc is such a likeable guy, even though it’s like he’s coaching the Yankees,” said Drouin.
“He’s so deserving of this honor, whether it’s the way he’s overcome the odds with no practice facility or the work he and his kids put in to the community. He and his teams do a lot of things for a lot of people in need.”
Added umpire and former Raider Chris Dion: “He’s a Hall of Fame person as well as a coach. He made the game a lot of fun and made us all better. He made my trip to playing college baseball (St. Joseph’s of Maine) a lot easier, and that’s something he did for a lot of different athletes who played for him.”
Pelletier’s clubs have perennially electrified the Central Catholic community from late May into early June with their patented runs toward the MVC title and the tournament.
Few could forget 1993 when Al Blackington and Ryan Kearney carried the Raiders, only 11-9 in the regular season, to within whiskers of a state title.
But Pelletier has a couple seasons that remain most special for him.
“Probably the most satisfying seasons were having my sons, Matt and Tom, on MVC championship squads,” said Pelletier.
“Zip (Now at Mass. Maritime) was part of three MVC teams and Tom was on last year’s MVC championship team. How great is that?
“(Marc’s wife) Eileen has been there for over 500-plus games and still our No. 1 fan. Behind every successful coach is a great wife and I have the best!”
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the MBCA banquet on the 25th.
Tickets in advance ($40 for adults and $20 for children 12-and-under) may be purchased at www.massbca.com.
AREA MBCA HALL OF FAMERS Coaches with local ties who have been inducted into the Mass. Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame include (with year of induction): Felix W. Andrus, Haverhill High, 1976 George "Benny" Lee, North Andover High, 1984 Walter "Skeets" Scanlon, Methuen High, 1988 Frank Carey, North Reading High, 2001 Scott Blaney, Gr. Lawrence Tech, 2008 Andy Cline, Phillips Andover, 2011 Marc Pelletier, Central Catholic, 2014