Night of Legends VII honors Chattman, Johnson, CHS teams

Night of Legends VII honors Chattman, Johnson, CHS teams

Left, former Woonsocket High three-sport standout Danny Chattman, shown in action with the Villa Novans’ football team in 1970, is regarded as one of the greatest athletes to come out his city. He will receive the “Roadshow Rival” award at next week’s Night of Legends VII at The Dugout. Right, Cumberland’s John Johnson is this year’s recipient of the Paul Bohac Teammate Award Winner.
Ceremony returns to The Dugout on Nov. 16

CUMBERLAND – Three legendary Cumberland High teams from yesteryear will join former Woonsocket High three-sport standout Danny Chattman and sports writer John Johnson as this year’s honorees at The Roadshow Night of Legends VII on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. at The Dugout on Cray Street.

The Night of Legends is organized annually by the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Rhode Island and the Roadshow, a loyal group of Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln alumni. The proceeds from the event will not only go toward youth programs at the Boys & Girls Club, but also help defray the expenses for the 45th annual Roadshow Holiday Classic on Dec. 27-28. The state’s longest running high school boys’ basketball tournament, the Roadshow Holiday Classic will again feature three-time champion Cumberland, Lincoln, Tolman, and Woonsocket.

Chattman, who graduated from WHS in 1971, will be presented with the “Roadshow Rival” award. He shined in football, basketball, and track and field for the Villa Novans and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2008. Before Chattman graduated, he made his mark in track by capturing the state championship and placing fourth in the New England meet in the 100-yard dash.

Chattman went on to join the military, attend the University of Rhode Island, and work for the Local 37 Ironworkers before retiring.

“We were looking at the Roadshow rivals and we weren’t sure if we were going to do it again,” said David Walsh, one of the Roadshow’s committee members who is assisting Jim Carney, the commissioner of the Roadshow and the director of the Night of Legends. “But when our club merged with the Boys & Girls Club of Woonsocket and became the Northern Rhode Island club, we thought about how we could get Woonsocket into the mix.

“And Danny was the first name that popped up. Everyone we talked to said that he was one of the top two or three athletes to come out of Woonsocket. He was just a tremendous athlete, and from the late ‘60s to the early ‘70s, you couldn’t read the newspaper’s sports pages without seeing Danny’s name in it every week.”

Johnson, who will receive the Paul Bohac Memorial Teammate Award, “stands out in a number of different ways,” added Walsh. The captain of Cumberland High’s first swim team in the late ‘60s, Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Utah State University and became a longtime sportswriter for the Narragansett Times.

“He has been a great friend of everyone in the Roadshow crew,” added Walsh. “John also runs the community’s Happy Basket Program. He’s such a low-key guy who’s never in the forefront. Even when I look for pictures of the Happy Basket (volunteers), he has everyone else in it and there’s no pictures of him. He’s that type of guy. He grew up and coached at the Boys Club, and he’s very proud of his time with the Tigers’ baseball team at the club.”

Johnson has also served as the photographer for the past six Night of Legends ceremonies, “and this year, we told him he can’t take a night off, even though he’s being honored,” Walsh added with a laugh. “He still has to do the photography.”

In the team category, the Roadshow chose to honor three CHS teams who are celebrating the anniversaries of their magical seasons: the 1968 state championship baseball team, 1977-78 boys’ basketball team, and 2007-08 boys’ hockey team that won the Division II championship.

The baseball team, which repeated as Northern Division regular-season champions with a 13-3 mark, captured its program’s second state title (and first since 1962) by winning three pitchers’ duels in the postseason. The Clippers nipped Pilgrim in the quarterfinals, 1-0, edged North Kingstown in the semifinals, 2-0, and took a memorable 2-0 thriller from Central in the finals.

“In the championship game, John LaRose, who was a junior and went on the pitch for the Boston Red Sox (in 1978), pitched a no-hitter,” said Walsh. “And Brad Dean, who was a senior, hit a run-scoring triple in the eighth inning to give Cumberland a 1-0 lead. He drove in Tom O’Connor, who went on to play baseball at Notre Dame and was (Washington Redskins quarterback) Joe Theismann’s roommate for four years.”

The boys’ basketball team didn’t win any championships during the 1977-78 campaign, but the Clippers grabbed the community’s attention by playing in the state’s Final Four that winter.

After a long run in Division II, Cumberland was promoted to the state’s top division in the 1970-71 season and had its share of struggles for most of the decade. But in the 1977-78 season, the Clippers rolled out a talented team that not only went 13-5 during the regular season, but also beat Our Lady of Providence in the state tourney’s quarterfinals to reach the semis for a showdown against mighty Central. The Knights defeated the Clippers, 67-53, and went on to win its eighth state championship in the last 10 years.

“That team was led by two seniors, Dave Sweat and John Straight,” added Walsh. “John had broken a bone in his hand and missed a large part of the season, but came back in the playoffs and had a great tournament. Joe Hughes was the head coach and John McVeigh was the assistant, and they had four other senior stars, Thom Crooks, Armand Joly, Bob McBride, and Paul Orsini.”

As for the hockey team, the Clippers won its first Division II championship in 19 seasons by following up a superb regular season – the Clippers posted a 13-2-1 record that was a point behind first-place Portsmouth – with a magical run in the playoffs.

Not only did Cumberland defeat defending champion Smithfield in three action-packed games in their best-of-three semifinal-round series (and take the third and deciding game in overtime), but the Clippers went on to blast St. Raphael Academy in the best-of-three finals at Providence College by scores of 8-2 and 5-3.

“The freshmen who played for Mark Andreozzi in his first season as the head coach were the seniors on that team,” noted Walsh. “Mark did a lot of things to help build the program, and these freshmen were the fruits of that as seniors.”

Tickets for next week’s event are $30 each and available at the Boys & Girls Club on James McKee Way or at The Dugout on the night of the event. A buffet dinner will be served, and tables for honorees will be reserved for family and friends attending.

The 2007-08 Cumberland High boys’ hockey team, which featured eight seniors, most of whom played for the Clippers since their freshman years, captured the Division II championship by sweeping St. Raphael Academy in the best-of-three title series at Providence College. It was the Clippers’ first title in 19 years.