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From A Jock To A King

Posted by Jim Botticelli  November 24, 2013 02:45 PM

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RayFlynnBurger.jpg
Ray Flynn enjoys a burger respite in tweed

     As 52nd mayor of Boston, Ray Flynn had a rep for getting around. A significant number of Bostonians; one report said up to half, had reported actually meeting him in person. He jumped aboard snowplow operations, visited crime scenes and was often spotted in local taverns. An All-American basketballer at Providence College and a pitcher with excellent form, Flynn was known for his athletic prowess long before he developed his professional political skills.

RayFlynnAthlete.jpg
Mayor Ray Flynn runs the Boston Marathon, 1985
Photo from City of Boston Archives
   
     "Playing sports was an important part of life growing up in South Boston. It was on those ball fields, parks, gyms and playgrounds where we first learned sportsmanship," Flynn once told South Boston Today. "I recall as a 17 year old kid from South Boston playing against many professional, amateur and college baseball players. Trying to pitch around Johnny MacDonald and Walt Mortimer, or hit Joe Reardon's knuckle ball, or Jimmy Collier's curve ball or keeping Bobby Timmons from stealing second or third on me, were early challenges I had to encounter."

     Flynn's political life began as a Democrat in the State House of Reps in 1971. Representing his neighborhood, he became a vocal opponent of court-ordered busing. By 1978 he won a seat on the City Council. In the early 80's he met a group of young idealists led by the late activist Ray Dooley who were able to remake Flynn's city-wide public image as a Louise Day Hicks reactionary into an Urban Populist with a progressive bent, catapulting him to the Mayor's Office in 1983 in a highly watched race against activist Mel King. He was re-elected twice, once against Ed Doherty, then president of the Boston Teachers Union, who ran partially to showcase the schools' problems that lingered in the aftermath of busing.

FlynnFamilyStPats84LovettPhotos.com.jpg
The Flynn family in the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, 1984
Photo courtesy of LovettPhotos.com

     After supporting Bill Clinton's first bid for the presidency, Ray Flynn was rewarded with an ambassadorship to The Vatican. This one is for Ray Flynn, DOB guy!

Thanks to South Boston Today, Wikipedia, and photographers credited

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“Playing sports was an important part of our life growing up in South Boston. It was on those ball fields, parks, gyms and playgrounds where we first learned sportsmanship. I recall as a 17 year old kid from South Boston, playing against many great professional, amateur and college baseball players. Trying to pitch around Johnny MacDonald and Walt Mortimer, or hit Joe Reardon’s knuckle ball, or Jimmy Collier’s curve ball or keeping Bobby Timmons from stealing second and third on me, were early challenges that I had to encounter. - See more at: http://southbostontoday.com/another-hall-of-fame-induction-for-the-honorable-raymond-flynn/#sthash.34BSqpSM.dpuf
“Playing sports was an important part of our life growing up in South Boston. It was on those ball fields, parks, gyms and playgrounds where we first learned sportsmanship. I recall as a 17 year old kid from South Boston, playing against many great professional, amateur and college baseball players. Trying to pitch around Johnny MacDonald and Walt Mortimer, or hit Joe Reardon’s knuckle ball, or Jimmy Collier’s curve ball or keeping Bobby Timmons from stealing second and third on me, were early challenges that I had to encounter. You also learned the early lessons of humility playing against those guys. But, it just wasn’t just the advanced level of playing against the best ever to come out of Boston in the oldest amateur baseball league in America, it was the kind of people you grew up with and played with. - See more at: http://southbostontoday.com/another-hall-of-fame-induction-for-the-honorable-raymond-flynn/#sthash.34BSqpSM.dpuf
“Playing sports was an important part of our life growing up in South Boston. It was on those ball fields, parks, gyms and playgrounds where we first learned sportsmanship. I recall as a 17 year old kid from South Boston, playing against many great professional, amateur and college baseball players. Trying to pitch around Johnny MacDonald and Walt Mortimer, or hit Joe Reardon’s knuckle ball, or Jimmy Collier’s curve ball or keeping Bobby Timmons from stealing second and third on me, were early challenges that I had to encounter. You also learned the early lessons of humility playing against those guys. But, it just wasn’t just the advanced level of playing against the best ever to come out of Boston in the oldest amateur baseball league in America, it was the kind of people you grew up with and played with. - See more at: http://southbostontoday.com/another-hall-of-fame-induction-for-the-honorable-raymond-flynn/#sthash.34BSqpSM.dpuf

“Playing sports was an important part of our life growing up in South Boston. It was on those ball fields, parks, gyms and playgrounds where we first learned sportsmanship. I recall as a 17 year old kid from South Boston, playing against many great professional, amateur and college baseball players. Trying to pitch around Johnny MacDonald and Walt Mortimer, or hit Joe Reardon’s knuckle ball, or Jimmy Collier’s curve ball or keeping Bobby Timmons from stealing second and third on me, were early challenges that I had to encounter. You also learned the early lessons of humility playing against those guys. But, it just wasn’t just the advanced level of playing against the best ever to come out of Boston in the oldest amateur baseball league in America, it was the kind of people you grew up with and played with. - See more at: http://southbostontoday.com/another-hall-of-fame-induction-for-the-honorable-raymond-flynn/#sthash.34BSqpSM.dpuf

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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