The Warren Athletic Hall of Fame is celebrating its 25 anniversary this year. There have been 267 individual inductees during that time.
The 2023 members of the Warren Athletic Hall of Fame have been announced. The induction banquet will be held Friday, Oct. 6, at White’s of Westport, 66 State Rd., Westport, Mass. at 5 p.m. Tickets are $45 per person.
“This year’s Inductees cover a myriad of sports,” said Hall of Fame Committee Chairperson Martha Delekta. “There are wrestlers, soccer players, one football player, a basketball coach, a sailor, as well as a boat designer, a whole gymnastics squad, and what banquet would be complete without an Old Time baseball team. Most of our Inductees were (are) such good athletes that they excelled at many sports during their careers.”
In the Athlete category are Richard “Dick” Ferrara, Alison N. Massed, Franky Medina, Jadon Neves and Robert H. Venice; Coach - Marissa Lopes; Contributor - Everett Pearson (posthumous); Old Timers - John H. Barry (posthumous) and James “Jim” Parks (posthumous). Also, Old Time team - Warren Little World Series Baseball (1949), and Current Era Team - Warren High School Gymnastics (1976).
The Warren Athletic Hall of Fame is also celebrating its 25 anniversary this year.
“There have been 267 individual inductees in the last 25 years,” noted Delekta. “Athletes, coaches, contributors, old timers, and of course our favorite category, the Phyllis Abbruzzi Award. We started later with the Team category and so far have inducted 40 teams…half current era teams and half old time teams.”
This year’s Honorees:
John H. Barry (Old Timer, Posthumous)
John Barry first appeared on Warren’s baseball scene when he played for St. Casimir’s Church in the Junior Twilight League in the early 1940s.
At Warren High School, he was a freshman member of the 1946 Class C and State Champions.
As a sophomore, he hit .300 while playing center field for the 1947 Class C and State Runner-Up Redskins. Usually hitting cleanup, he posted an average of .339 when the 1948 nine captured the Class C Eastern Division crown.
And in his senior year, Diz, as he was affectionately known by his teammates, first captained the school’s basketball squad and then was named Class C’s first team center fielder. Unfortunately, he and his Warren High teammates narrowly lost the Class C Eastern Division title in a one-game playoff that was contested at Brown University.
Following graduation, he attended a St. Louis Cardinals tryout camp in Massachusetts and survived a number of cuts that some other Warren stars did not.
John suited up for the Providence Amateur League’s Standard Pharmacy nine for two years and played in the town’s Red Feather basketball league.
After service in the United States Marines during the Korean War, during which he moved to the infield and covered third base in the Jacksonville, Florida Industrial Fast-Pitch softball league, he graduated from Bryant College. A job in the banking field took him to Michigan where he and his wife Helen raised a family of six children and he became an ardent supporter of University of Michigan athletics.
Richard “Dick” Ferrera (Athlete)
Richard Ferrara’s athletic career started in 1963, when he participated in one play (he was only nine years old) for the Warren Midget League’s Redskins.
In high school, he took up wrestling at Warren High, followed his father’s job to Churchill, New York, earned membership in that town’s Varsity Club, and moved back to Warren.
Early in his senior year at WHS, he served notice that good things were about to happen when he placed second at a Christmas wrestling tournament.
Competing in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, at one hundred forty-five pounds, he was undefeated in dual matches, was named the Redskins’ most outstanding wrestler, and earned 1972 All State honors. He then, to put the icing on the cake, when he traveled north to the New England championships and finished fourth in the six-state region.
Post-high school, he wrestled for Rhode Island College, where he posted a winning record.
For the last 17 years, Dick has been a coach for the Warren Wrestling Club that has won numerous individual and team state championships and shows no sign of slowing down. During this past spring, the Club captured the 8 and under and 10 and under (tie) team titles and eleven of the Club’s grapplers earned the title of Individual State Champion.
He continues to serve as the State Pairing Official for the Rhode Island Wrestling Association.
Marissa Lopes (Coach)
During the early years of the 21st century, Marissa Lopes served as the Chairperson of the Town of Warren’s Recreation Board.
In an earlier decade, she had coached girls’ basketball teams at both Warren High School and Mt. Hope High School. Leading the Lady Redskins for three years, she coached Warren High’s last girls’ basketball team (before the merger of the Warren and Bristol school systems) to the 1993 Class C Tournament Championship. The squad was led by tourney Most Valuable Player and fellow Hall of Famer Carrie Hicks.
And then, after taking a mini-break, she returned to the sidelines during the latter half of the ‘90s and led the Mt. Hope Lady Huskies to the Division Two-East regular season title in 1997. The team entered the playoffs with a 14-2 record. Their quarterfinal victory over Tiverton was their twelfth win a row, but they unfortunately fell victim to Johnston High in the Division Two semi-finals.
Alison N. Massed (Athlete)
Alison Massed is one of those rare student-athletes who have starred on championship teams in two different sports during her high school years.
As a junior, she was on the Mt. Hope High School girls’ lacrosse team that won the Division One-A Playoff Championship. And during her last season, she was named first team All Division Two and voted Mt. Hope’s Most Valuable Player.
She was also a member of the Lady Huskies 2007 soccer team that captured the Division One State Playoff Championship by defeating previously unbeaten and nationally-ranked La Salle in a shootout. Alison scored the game-winning goal versus Barrington in the semi-finals and notched a shootout goal in the win over La Salle.
The following year, she was a soccer team Co-Captain and received All State and All Division honors.
As a youngster, she had starred for the Warren Youth Association’s soccer team that won titles in the Under-12, Under-14, Under-16, and Under-19 leagues, with her Under-16 squad capturing the Rhode Island Cup.
And just to prove that she could compete in any sport, she was a member of the St. Mary’s Midgets A Region Four girls basketball team that won the 2003 CYO regular season title.
Franky Medina (Athlete)
Franky Medina was the co-captain of Warren High School’s Class C-Two Championship Football team of 1986.
The Redskins eleven started the season with three straight losses, but then came roaring back, defeating Ponagansett, North Providence, Classical, Central, Central Falls, North Smithfield, and Tiverton in a row and in the process, outscoring those opponents, 170-56.
The Class C-Two Champions thus reached the Class C Super Bowl, where they were edged, as they had been during the regular season, by Portsmouth.
Wearing #65, Franky was named an All State offensive guard and a first team All Class C-Two linebacker.
Jadon Neves (Athlete)
As a Mt. Hope High junior, Jadon Neves’s goalie performance in boys’ soccer featured a 1-0 shutout of La Salle, only the second loss for the Rams in their last fifty-five matches.
This set him up for a sparkling senior season. Posting shutouts over East Providence (in the process, snagging twenty-two saves), North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Coventry, and Portsmouth, he led the Huskies to the state championship playoffs.
In the playoffs, he followed up a victory over the North Kingstown Skippers with a semi-final shutout of Toll Gate. Unfortunately, the Huskies then lost to three-time state champion La Salle, 1-2, with questionable officiating decisions leading to both of the Rams’ goals.
For his efforts, Jadon earned both All State and All Open East Division honors.
At Rhode Island College (RIC), he was quickly named Little East Conference Rookie of the Week. In his four years at RIC, he led the Anchormen to the Little East finals twice and to the Conference semi-finals two times as well. Before he was finished, he came close to setting the school records for shutouts and goals against average.
James “Jim” Parks (Old Timer, Posthumous)
A native of England, Jim Parks made his mark on town teams in Ice Polo, Football, where he was a member of the 1900 State Runners-Up, Rugby, and Soccer.
But it was in baseball that he truly starred. Normally standing in as either the Silk Hats/Warren Shoe catcher or second baseman, he was a member of the 1908 Inter-State League Champions, the 1909 Inter-State League Champions, 1912 Manufacturers League State Champions, and the 1915 Manufacturers League State Champions.
And in the Little World Series that was conducted between Warren and Bristol over a fifty-five- year period, Jim captained the 1908 nine and managed the 1910 squad. He played in all except one of the Series that were played between 1902 and 1920. Highlights included striking out four hitters in his only pitching appearance, batting .455 in 1913, and perhaps most impressively, hitting .500 in his final year of 1920.
It might interest you to know that in 1920, Jim Parks was 46 years old. Since he was still a young man, he played in the Warren Twilight League during the next two years.
Everett Pearson (Contributor, Posthumous)
An All State running back at Pawtucket East High School (now Tolman), Everett Pearson captained the 1954 Brown University football team to a 6-2-1 record, scoring fifty-eight points and being called by Coach Al Kelly “the best blocking back I had at Brown.”
But after he moved to Warren, he made his name on the waters of Narragansett Bay and beyond. Think about these accomplishments:
He was a member of the Burgoo crew that finished first in Class E and second overall in the 1962 Newport to Bermuda race; Three years later, he authored “The Lure of Sailing”; Everett was a co-founding member of Sail America and Sail Expo; He designed five boats that are in the American Sailboat Hall of Fame, more than any other builder; His Tillotson-Pearson company built sixteen 44-foot sloops for the United States Naval Academy in 2005 and 2006.
For all of this and much more, he was elected to the U. S. National Sailing Hall of Fame.
Robert H. Venice (Athlete)
Bob Venice first appeared on Warren’s athletic scene when he hit .388 for the Little League Red Sox. Over the next few years, he was often a member of the Little League and Babe Ruth All Stars. And he was voted the Most Outstanding Boy at Burr’s Hill Park.
At Warren High School, he was present when the school added wrestling to their old-time offerings of baseball, basketball, and football. (It would be another 10 years or so before Title 9 resulted in the addition of a number of girls’ sports.)
As a sophomore, he finished as Rhode Island junior varsity runner-up grappler. A year later, he was defeated only once in Suburban Division dual meets. And then, while wrestling at 121 pounds, he concluded his high school career by being named first team All Suburban Division (undefeated in dual meets) and finishing fourth at the state championships.
After being named the first All Brigade softball second baseman at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he returned to Warren and starred on the Golden Lounge/Moe’s Tap, Hellew’s/Old Ironsides slow-pitch nines that captured innumerable regular season, league playoffs, and regional tournament championships.
Bob served as the Men’s League Softball Commissioner in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Warren, Little League World Series, 1949 (Old Time Team)
1949 was the last year of the Little World Series competition between Warren and Bristol that had begun in 1895. Each Series usually consisted of the best three-of-five. Warren captured the first Series, won the last Series, was victorious in three of the four Series that were played after World War Two and overall, won 22 Series. Bristol was victorious 12 times, and three Series finished tied.
Pat Pascale was the 1949 team’s player/manager, while Johnny Abbruzzi, Les Burdge, and Lefty Greenwood were coaches.
After falling behind the Bristolians, Warren captured the last two Series games ever played behind the pitching of Ace Boulanger, Goose Goslin, and Roger Higgins (winner in both games). Abby Abbruzzi led the hometown hitters with an average of .429, while Charlie Barrett, Buzz Barry (seven hits), Ditty Drainville, Huck Henneberry (seven hits), Higgins, and Leon Urban each topped the .300 mark.
As Warren pulled out all stops in order to finish on a positive note, individual members of the Hall of Fame who played for Warren were the two Abbruzzis, Buzz and Jim Barry, Boulanger, Nick and Slick Cariglia, Drainville, Flash Greenwood, Higgins, Johnny Karcz, Eddie Polak, Billy Servant, Harpo Tavares, and Urban.
Other players were Barrett, Goslin, Henneberry, and Pascale.
Warren High School Gymnastics, 1976 (Current Era Team)
Eastern Division Champions with a 7-0 record, the WHS Gymnastics team finished second behind North Kingstown in the state championship meet. In divisional competition, they had tripled the scores of rivals Barrington and Bristol.
In the state team championships, Pat and Bonnie O’Blenis placed first in the bars and floor exercises, respectively. They then finished second and third on the optional bars at the state individual championships.
Mary Ellen Annunziata, Lori Francis, Bonnie O’Blenis, and Pat O’Blenis were named to All State squads, and along with Bridgette King and Coach Ann Chandler (later Morris), are individual members of the Hall of Fame.
Other members of the team included Kathy Alexander, Cynthia Bonalewicz, Jane Caizzi, Sue Coccio, Diane DeCrescenzo, Noella Hayward, Diane Mello, Nancy Mello, Patricia Mello, Susan Primiano, and Maureen Sousa.
The recipients of the Pete Sepe Scholarship are; Sarah Gale and Thalyta Pereira.