Cathedral High School held the third biennial induction in its Athletics Hall of Fame recognizing six extraordinary alumni athletes.
On Saturday, November 14, Cathedral High School held its third biennial induction to the Athletics Hall of Fame. This special recognition highlights Cathedral alumni who excelled during their time at Cathedral, and who, after graduation, continue to demonstrate excellence in and support of athletic pursuits while demonstrating the values taught.
Inductees are nominated for the Hall of Fame by Cathedral alumni and carefully selected by a committee comprised of fellow alumni athletes.
This year, six extraordinary alumni athletes were selected: John Fleming ’58 Leonard Washington ’77, William Baxter ’78, Kenneth Pires ’88, Paul Francisco ’89 and Andreen Gilpin ’98. They were inducted during a ceremony attended by more than 100 alumni, family, friends, and staff. “Our Hall of Fame honorees serve as an inspiration to today’s student-athletes,” said Dr. Oscar Santos, head of school. “We are proud to count them as alumni of Cathedral High School as we continue our 90 year legacy of teaching values and building leaders.”
For some, Hall of Fame was the first time stepping foot in the new gymnasium, built through the generosity of benefactors in 2006, and seeing how far the school’s athletic program has progressed. The inductees expressed excitement for the school’s future and pride that they are part of Cathedral’s legacy of success.
“I feel so blessed to have come full circle and to have been inducted into the Cathedral High School Hall of Fame with so many other great Cathedral scholar-athletes. I thank the institution for providing me with the confidence to succeed in the sports arena and in the classroom to succeed in college and beyond,” said inductee Paul Francisco ’89. “Being chosen into the Hall of Fame was an affirmation of all that was taught to me there; hard work and dedication, preparation, teamwork. The ceremony brought back so many great memories and I had the opportunity to be there with my ‘Pops’ Ed Blakley (Cathedral High School director of food services) and Terance Stanton, both of whom I credit with being a big part of my success.”
There was an overwhelming sense of family that resonated throughout the room as each inductee spoke of former teammates, coaches, and teachers, and the special feeling of being back “home” at their alma mater.
“Cathedral is not just a home but a pathway to success,” said Larry Merrit ’91, athletic director.
The 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees
John Fleming ’58
John “Duke” Fleming was a Catholic Central League All-Star in both football and basketball, leading both teams to championships in 1958—the first time in 28 years.
John spent all four years at Cathedral in varsity football and was Captain of the football team his senior year, playing both running back and safety. The Boston Herald recognized him as an All-Scholastic player for his football achievements. John’s 1957 team earned the Co-Championship title that year and he played in the Harry Agganis All-Star Game.
John also played all of his four years on the Cathedral baseball team as both pitcher and shortstop. Notably, he struck out 17 batters in a game against Matignon High School. His senior year, John was named Most Valuable Player on the baseball team.
After Cathedral, John earned a four year football scholarship to Boston College and started for the Eagles freshman team. He continued playing as a safety during his collegiate sophomore year and was a letter winner during his junior and senior years, playing through multiple injuries.
John graduated from Boston College in 1962 and was offered a contract to play in Canadian Football League. Instead, he opted to play in the local Boston Park League and returned to Cathedral as a backfield coach in 1962.
Leonard Washington ’77
Family and friends say Leonard Washington “is Cathedral and has been Cathedral throughout his life.” During his time as a student-athlete at Cathedral High School and beyond, Leonard excelled in football, baseball, basketball, and track.
As a freshman he started on the boy’s varsity football team where he would continue to have success. During his junior year, Leonard was voted to the Varsity Football League’s All-Star Team. By senior year, he held the position of Team Captain and was voted Most Valuable Player for his determination and abilities as a football player.
Baseball was another sport in which Leonard excelled. Sophomore year, he was Cathedral’s varsity starting shortstop and was a part of the 1976 boy’s varsity baseball team which went on to earn a State Championship.
His senior year, Leonard was the boy’s basketball team captain and MVP while simultaneously running track. He was honored with the McDonald Award for being the best athlete in the graduating class of 1977.
After his high school graduation, Leonard matriculated at Boston State College where he played basketball was ranked top 10 in the nation for small college rebounding. The Boston State College basketball team named him MVP during his junior year and top rebounder in the nation.
Since college, Leonard has worked as a social worker and case manager with many youth programs, instilling teamwork, determination, and values to inner-city kids. He co-founded Malta House, an independent living program in Brockton and now resides in Savannah, Georgia. Leonard continues to demonstrate the values he learned as a student-athlete at Cathedral High School.
William Baxter ’78
William Baxter was a hard working student and tough competitor on the field at Cathedral. He is most noted for being a “hard-nosed fullback,” running over many of his teammates and earning him the nickname Billy “Boom Boom” Baxter. William was an all-around athlete, playing varsity football, basketball, and track and field.
William earned praise while at Cathedral for his athletic abilities and was awarded All Catholic Honors in football during both his junior and senior years. He was a guest speaker at his Cathedral commencement and went on to play at Ferum College in Virginia as a running back from 1978 to 1979. For two years, William helped Cathedral’s Adopt-A-Team initiative which helped provide sports teams with new and safe equipment and served as “Spirit Coach” for Cathedral’s basketball team.
William went back to school to Newbury College, graduating in 2008, embarking on a life of service. He worked for the Department of Youth Services for four years and then went on to become Sergeant Deputy Sheriff for Suffolk County. William is currently Sergeant in the Boston Police Department.
William has led an exemplary life of service to others. He led the Boston Police department’s Teen Academy and participated in “Take Back The Kitchen,” which taught young people to cook. He appeared on the cover of the UMass Boston magazine and was featured in the Boston Globe for his work with local youth. In 2000, he was recognized with the Boston Celtic’s Unsung Hero Award for serving youth and building partnerships within the community. He also received Boston’s Neighborhood Philanthropic Initiative Award for serving youth and building partnerships in the city.
“Mr. Baxter epitomizes all Cathedral athletes for his dedication and hard work. He characterizes the Cathedral graduate by going on to work with the most vulnerable youth in our community,” said fellow Cathedral teammate Norman Lowe ‘78.
Kenneth Pires ’88
Kenneth Pires had talent in both baseball and football and he used his athletic skills to become an incredible student-athlete during his four years at Cathedral High School.
Ken was a valuable asset to Cathedral’s baseball program. During years of heavy competition, he was an excellent offensive and defensive player. During his four years, Ken hit over 400 and was voted as an All Star player and played in the State All-Star game.
Ken was also recognized as an All-Star for football and was proud representative of Cathedral as a student-athlete. After graduation, Ken was recruited for football by several local colleges, including Boston University, Boston College, and Northeastern University, and went on to play baseball at the University of Lowell. He played in the ADSL of the Boston Park League where he was inducted in to the Hall of Fame. The Montreal Expos of the National League (the professional baseball team that became the Florida Marlins) scouted Ken and he was invited to their rookie camp.
“Ken Pires is one of the best players to come out of Cathedral,” said former Baseball Coach Josh Powell. Ken continues to support Cathedral and stays connected with his former teammates.
Paul Francisco ’89
Paul Francisco moved to the United States as a teenager and enrolled at Cathedral High School where he became a prominent football athlete. He set the single game and single season reception record at CHS and was known as a “force to be reckoned with.” Paul received varsity letters in both football and baseball.
After Cathedral, Paul went on to study at Boston University. He was a three year starter for BU’s football team and a four year letterman. He was named to the Second Team All-East after playing in 12 games and catching 11 passes for 102 yards. Paul finished fifth on the team for receiving and finished his sophomore year with ten catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. As a junior, Paul caught 15 passes for 99 yards and three touchdowns.
It was no surprise that Paul went into a professional career in football. He spent parts of three seasons on the practice squad for the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. He spent most of the 1994 season on the practice squad with the Patriots and was signed to the team’s active roster wearing jersey #88 as a tight end later that year. He remained on the Patriots team for the final three games that season.
Paul is very active in providing leadership opportunities for youth. He is currently a member of the board of directors for Epiphany School, a member of the board of directors for the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA), the Private Industry Council (PIC) Workforce Development Committee, and is a fellow at the Center for Collaborative Leadership Emerging Leaders.
Paul is currently employed by Veritude, a Fidelity Investments company. The Boston Business Journal named him to their 40 Under 40 list in 2007. Paul’s success in athletics is inspiring and his continued dedication to Boston’s youth is a true testament to the values he learned as a Cathedral High School student-athlete.
Andreen Gilpin ’98
Andreen Gilpin is a recent inductee into New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2015) and Little East Conference Hall of Fame (2014). To her former Cathedral High School teammates, this was no surprise. During Andreen’s time at Cathedral she was a standout player. She played basketball, track and field, volleyball, and softball. But it was her basketball skills which were unparalleled. Andreen was captain of the girl’s varsity basketball team at Cathedral where she “exuded leadership, determination, and strength,” according to former teammates. Andreen earned her 1000th point during her senior year at CHS.
After graduating, Andreen went on to the play for the of Massachusetts Boston Beacons and earned a reputation as an incredible rebounder. In February 1999, she broke the NCAA Division III single-game record for rebounds and still ranks as one of the top rebounders in NCAA Division III history. The Little East Conference named her as an All-Conference selection three times. Her senior year, she led the nation with an average of 15.7 rebounds per game.
In the offense, Andreen netted 61 career double-doubles (a UMass Boston all-time high for female players), recorded 422 points her senior year (becoming the only player in program history to have 400 points and 400 rebounds in a single season), and remains the second highest scorer in program history with 1,534 points. Andreen graduated UMass Boston in 2004 and has also been inducted into their athletics hall of fame.
For ten years, Andreen has worked at Boston Scientific where she is a senior quality supervisor; she was a biochemistry and pre-med major in college. Andreen is the proud mother of a five-year-old daughter, a ten-year-old son, and two teenage stepsons who are in awe of her accomplishments.