By Matt Jenkins
---- — SWAMPSCOTT — Legendary Swampscott High School coach Dick Lynch never approached his job with individual glory or personal acclaim on his mind.
A former football, basketball and baseball coach for the Big Blue, Lynch had one focus: to put his teams in the best position to win.
Even after last night’s ceremony to name the school’s fieldhouse the Richard ‘Dick’ Lynch Gymnasium, he wasn’t about to take any credit for the things he accomplished.
“I was floored, overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe they were going to do this for a guy like me,” the 87-year-old Lynch said about the honor. “I was amazed they did it and I’m a very happy guy. Look at the turnout and all the great people we had here.
“The reason they named it after me is because of all the great kids I had to coach. They were responsible for all the successes we had.”
Mike Lynch, the long-time WCVB Channel 5 sports anchor, had the opportunity to play football and basketball for his father at Swampscott High in the late 1960s. Dick Lynch was a top football assistant for the legendary Stan Bondelevitch from 1954-1973, and Mike Lynch booted a field goal to beat archrival Marblehead on Thankgiving,15-14, giving the Big Blue their third straight 9-0 season.
Mike Lynch introduced his father last night, noting that he was never one to hang onto or display awards from his past. But this particular honor was something Dick Lynch and his family would treasure forever.
“He’s not a big collector of trophies or hardware, but I know this one he’s just absolutely thrilled about,” Mike Lynch said. “I couldn’t be any more proud and I couldn’t be any more happy with the turnout tonight. It’s old friends, old teammates and people who really made Swampscott sports.”
Making the dedication happen wasn’t easy. The plans were in the works for a year-and-a-half.
The idea began with the Swampscott High School Athletic Hall of Fame committee and had to go through the School Board before getting the green light.
“Dick has contributed so much to the town,” Athletic Hall of Fame committee member Jack Taymore said. “He didn’t just coach and teach here; he’s lived in the same house where he brought his family up for 60 years. He stayed here. He was the founder of the CYO in town back in 1953. He’s always at the games; it doesn’t matter that he’s been out of it for 30 years. He’s still part of the town.”
In addition to coaching football with Bondelevitch, Dick Lynch coached basketball for eight years, leading the Big Blue to a state title in 1968 when former NFL All-Pro and later Chicago Bears head coach Dick Jauron put back his own miss to win the game for Swampscott. Lynch also coached baseball for three years, twice guiding the team into the state tournament.
When asked about Lynch’s coaching style, many people in attendance spit out two words: tough and fair.
“I think that’s the most polite way to say it,” Mike Lynch said. “We were always prepared. He was a big believer in scouting. He was very organized. He carried index cards to practice so that every second of the two-hour practice was spent doing something constructive. I don’t think any of us ever went into a game feeling we weren’t prepared to win. We thought we out-prepared every other team because of what he did for us.”
Taymore played football for Dick Lynch, beginning in 1954. He echoed Mike Lynch’s sentiment.
“You were afraid of him, especially since you were 14 or 15 years old and he’s 27, but you think he’s about 40 or 50. You were really scared, but he was tough but fair, which are very good qualities,” Taymore said.
“You never heard anyone say a bad word about him. Guys would say, ‘Oh, son of a gun. He did this to us, he did that to us and he made us do that.’ But on Saturday afternoon you were happy he did it.”
Last night, Dick Lynch was happy Swampscott High School invited him for such an occasion.
“He had bladder cancer surgery (last) August 29 and went through chemo and radiation. In October and November he had a major setback and lost a lot of weight, and we were worried that we weren’t going to be able to do this this winter,” Mike Lynch said. “When he found out we were going to do this Feb. 5 (the ceremony’s original date before being postponed due to a snowstorm), he put it on the calender and he started eating, he started walking laps around the house. He said, ‘I’m walking in that place, I’m not coming in in a wheelchair and I’m not walking in with my cane.’
“He had to use the cane a little bit, but he’s thrilled. He may not want to go home. He might be here to shut out the lights tonight.”