Dedication of the “Mike Ryan Memorial Baseball Field,” on the very spot he polished the skills that would propel him to the Red Sox, takes place Friday morning in Haverhill.
Ryan, a Red Sox catcher during the 1967 “Impossible Dream” season, died two years ago at age 78. His family, friends and fans are expected to take part in the ceremony Friday, July 22, at 10 a.m., at Swasey Field, 59 Blaisdell St. Haverhill Human Services Director Vincent Ouellette told city councilors last year that despite his success, Ryan always maintained a great affection for his hometown.
“He came back to this area to live and he often talked about the joy and the fun and where he developed the skills up at Swasey Field,” he said.
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s office said the public is invited and invitations were also sent to about 35 people from a list provided by Ryan’s family. A commemorative granite bench was installed earlier this summer.
Almost exactly a year ago, the Haverhill City Council gave its approval to naming the major league baseball diamond at Swasey Field for a formal dedication of the Mike Ryan Bench and baseball diamond at Swasey Field.
Ryan signed a contract with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in October 1960 and began his professional career in 1961 with the Olean Red Sox of the New York-Penn League. He went on to spend 35 years in professional baseball, including his first seven in the Red Sox organization as a player. A former catcher, he played in 79 regular season games for the Red Sox during their 1967 “Impossible Dream” season, also appearing in game four of the 1967 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Born in Haverhill on Nov. 25, 1941, Ryan attended St. James High School. Paul Ryan told WHAV his cousin had a “modest start” in baseball. He said there was no baseball program at St. James High School, but Mike was asked by Irving “Sheik” Karelis to play for Karelis Jewelers at Cashman Field in Haverhill. When he was 18—as a member of the Northeast League, a semi-pro league—Mike was invited to play in the all-star game at Yankee Stadium. He was one of only three from New England.