BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — After 19 years in sports limbo, Ken Perrone has been voted into the Salem High School Hall of Fame.
The former and legendary football coach is tied for the most coaching victories in school history, but is also remembered for his controversial role in the 1994 teachers’ strike. He was voted in a few weeks ago, but the Salem High Hall of Fame Committee has not yet announced the results.
Salem High Principal Dave Angeramo, a nonvoting member of the committee, declined to comment on the recent vote. He said only that a press release will be issued by the end of the week announcing the new inductees.
Perrone and the other new members will be honored June 27 at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
Perrone’s inclusion in the school’s Hall of Fame has been a subject of controversy for almost two decades.
Despite leading the Witches to 151 wins over 22 years, tying legendary football coach Bill Broderick for the most victories in school history, Perrone was kept out of the Hall of Fame by a committee that included several members who strongly opposed his induction, including former schools Superintendent Ed Curtin.
During the strike, Perrone, a public school teacher, continued to coach the football team, defying a school rule and orders from Curtin and other school officials. The controversy drew widespread media coverage.
Over the years, Perrone, who also had long and successful coaching careers in Maine and at Salem State University, has received a number of honors, including inductions into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame and the Massachusetts Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
“I truly feel humbled and honored, but, at the same time, it’s been a long time coming and I felt I’ve always been worthy record-wise,” the 77-year-old Perrone said.
Perrone’s candidacy was championed over the years by City Councilor Tom Furey, who continually nominated the former coach, only to see the bid fail year after year.
Furey’s relentless campaign, and frequent appearances before the School Committee, led to action last year, when the school board voted to expand the size of the Hall of Fame committee, add a number of women and set term limits.
The new, revamped committee voted last month to induct Perrone.
“I tried to make justice out of an injustice,” Furey said yesterday.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.