A few thoughts from the past week's news:
Even if Hollywood had been involved, there couldn't have been a better way for Newburyport High School's varsity baseball coach Bill Pettingell to end his career.
On Saturday, he officially retired after 40 years as coach. His last game was something that we could only imagine happening in the movies: His beloved team won its first state title. He had made a decision after last season that this season would be his final year as coach. Certainly, at that point, there was no way to imagine that his last season would have such a perfect ending.
Before the first pitch was thrown in Saturday's game, coach Pettingell had already reached milestones that will make him a legend in the annals of Newburyport's sports, with 615 wins to his credit, 18 Cape Ann League titles, three sectional titles and two prior appearances in the state title game.
"I lived a dream for 40 years," Pettingell said after his final game. "I came to Newburyport to start doing baseball, based on a feeling I had for my idol, John Carroll (longtime Natick baseball coach). I knew I wanted to be him — somebody who spent his life at an institution like Newburyport."
Pettingell's influence as a coach and mentor can't be underestimated. His coaching skills, athletic ability and inspirational manner have forged so many important lessons and memories for two generations of Newburyport athletes. This was a perfect way to thank a man who has given so much of his career to the city.
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Newburyport has certainly had its share of civic theatrics over the years.
What better fodder could there be for a theater production than the trials and tribulations of this little seaside city? Newburyport has rebuilt itself, squabbled with itself, and given rise and fall to many interesting characters. And, yes, it's spent inordinate amounts of time fruitlessly trying to tame the less desirable aspects of man's best friend and even sparred on occasion with Mother Nature.
"Forbidden Newburyport," now playing at The Firehouse Center for the Arts, puts it all in the right perspective. The clever musical parody pokes fun at all things Newburyport and reminds us that laughter is indeed good medicine, especially in a city where things can get quite serious.
The show runs through Sunday.
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Salisbury Beach has some serious competition just a few miles up the coast. It's something that locals with an interest in bettering Salisbury ought to be watching.
New Hampshire has spent millions of dollars to rehabilitate the beachfront at Hampton Beach. The finished product is an enormous improvement over the dated and ugly waterfront that hulked over the beach for years. The intention is perfectly logical — invest to make the beach more attractive and, therefore, encourage property owners to improve their properties.
New Hampshire is hoping to do one better than that. It wants to build a transportation hub that will make travel to Hampton Beach much easier. Anyone who's been to the local beaches on the weekends knows what kind of a nightmare traffic and parking can be.
Salisbury Beach has its own rehab plan on the table, which is being put together largely by a private developer. It's been going on for four years with no appreciable results yet. We hope that the situation changes, as the plans suggested by the developer — though vague — would vastly improve the beach center.
Our state government has made some effort over the years to improve Salisbury Beach, notably by tearing down dilapidated beachfront buildings and maintaining a fine and popular state park. But it's clear that Hampton is now moving ahead in the competition game, and Salisbury needs to catch up.