Four decades ago there was an outstanding young athlete living inthe Village area of Everett. He was fun-loving, talented and wellliked.
Then disaster struck. His home burned to the ground when he was 12and his family moved to nearby Malden.
The youth continued to shine as an athlete in baseball, basketballand football. In his three varsity years at Malden he wasinstrumental in beating Everett in three sports for three seasons -football, basketball and baseball. That streak ended in 1961.
Everett people had mixed emotions about MacDaniel 'Mac' Singleton.He was one of them and he also was the enemy, being a member ofMalden teams.
Well, all that is past now and there will be a reunion of sortsWednesday, Nov. 10, when Singleton will be honored by the Everett EClub as one of its Most Outstanding Opponents.
Singleton, now the head baseball coach at MIT and bearer of thetag 'Prof. Singleton' said, 'This is some honor. I'm an Everett kidat heart and I did my thing at Malden High. It's a nice feeling beingrecognized by people you played against. It has a lot of meaning.'
E Club executive director Larry Vozella said, 'Mac is special anddeserves to be recognized. I saw him perform in three sports and hewas a great athlete. He always was better than great when he playedagainst Everett. One of our guys who knew his abilities more thanmost is our former interior lineman Jim 'Tank' Agnetta, class of1962. He said Mac was the best.'
Singleton grinned, 'You know why I had success against Everett infootball? I'll tell you. The Everett kids on defense hit so hard thatmany of my Malden teammates were reluctant to run the ball. So I gotmost of the calls to carry against Everett. I left every game so soreit took me three days to get back to normal.'
As a youngster, Singleton played with and later against some greatplayers, such as receiver Ross O'Hanley, who played for BostonCollege and the Patriots, and running back Bobby Leo, one ofEverett's all-time greats, who also played at Harvard.
Many fine athletes were brought up in the Village near WellingtonCircle. Said Singleton, 'The Village was mostly an Italianneighborhood. It was close-knit and we respected each other andfought for each other.'
At Malden High, Singleton played football under Ed Melanson and akey assistant coach was Jonny Carroll from Natick, his gym teacher.He coached Doug Flutie when he was at at Natick High.
Singleton's basketball coach was Art Boyle, who was captain atBoston University when the late Harry Agganis of Lynn was thequarterback.
Singleton was a guard in basketball and Malden won the State titlehis junior year, 1960.
'We lost our first game that season,' said Singleton. 'Then wewon all the rest. We beat Somerville for the title at Boston Garden.We had good size and quickness, and Willie Baron was tourney MVP.
'I was the shortest guy on the team.'
Singleton's quickness and speed were keys to his success. As acenter fielder in baseball, he covered more than the usual amount offield. And as a running back in football, he was quick to the holeand he could fly past linebackers.
Said Singleton, 'When I was a senior at Malden, Bobby Leo was asophomore at Everett. He was one of the greatest backs I saw. Thatyear Everett and Malden were tied for first place in the GreaterBoston League with 6-0 records. We played at Everett in front of afull house. We won, 28-16.'
Singleton scored twice in that game and also ran for a conversion.
'I was sore for a week after that game,' he said. 'The Everettguys did a number on me, but I wasn't about to let them know duringthe game. Just playing against Everett got me to play at a higherlevel. And in football games against Everett I carried the ball alot. Everett was big and they always tried to kill us. They beat upon me big time.'
Some of the Everett stars back then were Richie Green and PatHughes, who later played for the New York Giants.
Singleton also was close to Frank Champi who was the Harvardquarterback in the famous 29-29 tie with Yale. He also was from theVillage. He also stayed close to baseball star Joe O'Donnell. Bothwere named to the Hearst Sandlot Team and played in Fenway Park.
Said Singleton: 'Joe was an outstanding baseball player and I knowI got better just being with him and watching him. I also learnedfrom Bobby DeFelice from Winthrop and Artie Graham, who played atBoston College and for the Patriots.
'If you keep watching close you learn from teammates andopponents,' he said. 'I learned plenty from Ronnie Perry Sr. fromSomerville. He was terrific in basketball and baseball.'
Most of his life Singleton played against older kids, by design.'That was good for me,' he said. 'I was playing with or againsttalented people and that helped me advance. Being around those guysmade you want to be better. I just emulated what they did.
'Way back, I use to copy Jessie Owens as far as running went. Hewas the best Olympic track man I knew of when I was a kid. Bob Cousywas my basketball hero and Jim Brown was my football hero. And inbaseball it would be Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. I'dlook at the best and copy them.'
Singleton always will be grateful to his coaches over the years.He said, 'Ed Melanson was a great football coach at Malden and he wasgood to me. So was Art Boyle the basketball coach. Many people had aninfluence on me.'
One year the Everett-Malden football game ended up in a fight.Said Singleton: 'I wouldn't fight an Everett player. I knew them alland they were my friends. So I tried to break up some fights and gotclobbered myself. On Malden-Everett football game days there was alot of hard feelings between the teams. I never felt that way. I justwanted to play well against a good, solid team.'
Singleton has been affiliated with Everett and Malden kids overhis career.
After he was graduated from Western State College in Colorado in1966 and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as a center fielder, hewent into coaching.
In football he was head coach at Boston State and an assistant atHarvard for 16 years. He also coached junior varsity baseball atHarvard for 16 years. He had coaching experince in the Boston ParkLeague, the Arena Football League, World League of American Footballand he had a stint with the Buffalo Bills.
The E Club of Everett has recognized Outstanding Opponents since1980. They are:
1980: Charlie O'Rourke, Malden.
1981: Silvio Cella, Revere.
1982: `Boley' Dancewicz, Lynn Classical.
1983: Al Cannava, Medford.
1984: Paul Guzzi, Newton North.
1985: Don Allard, Somerville.
1986: Emerson Dickie, Malden.
1987: Ralph Chesnauskas, Brockton.
1988: Art Graham, Matignon.
1989: Ron Perry Sr., Somerville.
1990: Ed Rideout, Medford.
1991: Joh Nunziato, Somerveille.
1992: John Carroll, Malden.
1993: Kevin Cunnifff, Medford.
1994: Joe Terrasi, Waltham.
1995: John Salmon, Malden.
1996: Russ Halloran, Newton.
1997: Dr. Hank Toczlowski, Jr., Arlington.
1998: Mike Pagliarulo, Medford.
1999: `Mac' Singleton, Malden.