Haverhill city councilors are seeking upgrades at Cashman Field, Hilldale Avenue, as renovated basketball courts there are to be named in honor of a local coach and recreation department assistant director who passed away more than two years ago.
The council Tuesday unanimously supported a request by Mayor James J. Fiorentini, council President John A. Michitson and Human Services/Recreation Director Vincent Ouellette, to name the basketball courts at Cashman for the late Michael L. Rowinski, who also grew up in that neighborhood. Ouellette told councilors Rowinksi, a longtime city summer program employee, high school and college coach and teacher, was “probably the finest gentleman when it came to sports.”
“He passed away two years ago. We thought about doing something back then. We wanted to make sure the courts were up to par, that we could name them after Mike. He grew up across the street from Cashman’s Field in the so-called projects. And that’s where he honed his skills. And, hopefully now, his family can enjoy a dedication and be more of a happy occasion than a sad occasion,” Ouellette said.
Michitson reflected on playing ball in his youth, including his high school years, with Rowinski.
“If you went to the playgrounds as a kid and you visited Cashman Field, I guarantee you that Mike “Mope” Rowinski was there. And he always was the pitcher on the boys baseball team, every game, every year. I don’t think anybody else pitched at Cashman Field. That’s much like ‘Spider’ McGonagle, at Saint James Park,” Michitson said. “And those are two good names, right there, you can take to the bank.”
Rowinski, also a longtime coach at Northern Essex Community College and, most recently, at Georgetown High School, passed away in January, 2014, according to Ouellette. He added he would next reach out to Rowinski’s family in planning a dedication ceremony. Funding options for signage or “some sort of bench,” he said, would be found within the department budget or through a grant.
“Mike and I grew up together; we played sports on the playgrounds and in high school. We both were supervisors on the neighborhood playgrounds some 40 years ago and he continued working for the Recreation department as the assistant director of our day program and as the director for the past 20 years until his death,” Ouellette wrote in a letter to Fiorentini. “Mike’s contribution to the department and area youth is unsurpassed. In recognition of his contributions, a fitting tribute to his legacy and a great honor for his family, I would like to request that the basketball courts at Cashman’s Field be named in his honor.”