This will not be Ken Perrone’s first Hall of Fame induction; in fact, it’s his eighth.
But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a very special — and long overdue — honor for the former Salem High football coach.
With 151 victories with the Witches and five Northeastern Conference titles, Perrone is finally headed into the Salem High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I am very humbled, but at the same time I feel I deserve this honor,” said Perrone, who coached the Witches for 22 years from 1973-94, and had a .696 winning percentage, including Super Bowl trips in 1974 and 1994.
Perrone’s overall record at Salem was 151-64-7; he is tied with one of the state’s most legendary football coaches, Bill Broderick, for the most in school history.
It has been 19 years since Perrone was fired, along with his coaching staff, for continuing to coach the football team after being ordered not to by Salem superintendent of schools Ed Curtin and Mayor Neil Harrington because the Salem teachers were on strike. Perrone and his staff coached Salem to a win in Swampscott in a battle of unbeatens, then over Winthrop and Beverly to reach the Super Bowl against Whitman-Hanson.
The subsequent firing touched off a controversy in the city that remained for years — even though Perrone had the blessings of the Salem Teachers’ Union to continue coaching, since the coaches’ contract was not tied in with the teachers’.
Perrone has never regretted his commitment to his team and the players he stood by. In fact, he said if there had been no strike, who knows — he might still be coaching the Witches.
While saying he never lost any sleep over it, Perrone admits being “shocked” when he got the call from Salem High softball coach Dan Bertone, a member of the Hall of Fame committee, telling him he would be inducted in this year’s class.