SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

August 30, 2010

The Baron of Beverly

Walsh ushered in an era of greatness never before seen at Beverly High

BEVERLY — Charlie Manuel remembers drawing the ire of his Beverly High football coach, Charlie Walsh, once.

It didn't happen a second time.

Almost 60 years later, the memory is seared into Manuel's brain like a branding iron on a steer. In recalling the details of that day with diamond-like clarity, Manuel chuckled at his teenage hubris while at the same time remembering full well the lesson he learned.

"It was a Monday afternoon and we had varsity practice at Cooney Field. My brother 'Skooma' (real name: Al) was playing junior varsity football for Briscoe (Junior High) against Everett at the adjacent field," said Manuel, a halfback and safety for BHS. "So a bunch of us got out there early before practice to watch the JV game, and soon my brother got hold of the ball and scored a touchdown. I was all thrilled, with him being a ninth grader and me being a senior and watching him score.

"I was so involved in the game," continued Manuel, "that I didn't hear Coach Walsh blow the whistle to start our practice. While I finally realized I was alone at the fence watching the JV game, I raced over to our practice. Coach blew his whistle again and said to the team, 'Our great star has decided to grace us with his presence.' "He then said to me, 'Mr. Manuel, I don't think we'll need you today. Go back and watch the game — or even go home.'

"I thought it was the worst thing I ever did in my life. But that was Charlie Walsh and how he ran things."

In the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, when successful football coaches were held in the highest possible community standing — running neck-and-neck with, if not surpassing, that of the mayor — Walsh was the unquestioned leader of Beverly High football. He took a program that had been moribund for the better part of two decades and turned them into a powerhouse.

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