For anyone who follows Red Sox Baseball, Brian Butterfield is a name most people recognize, as he is the long-time third base coach who is well liked and respected by both Red Sox players and management alike. Although born in Maine, Brian has a distinct Westborough connection: both his father and uncle grew up in Westborough and graduated from Westborough High School. Both were also well-known sports figures.
From an article written by sports reporter Bob Hassett for the Worcester Telegram in 1965 comes this background on Brian’s father, Jack, and uncle, Jim.
Jack has had a long and varied career in sports since he entered Westboro High School as a freshman in 1943. Harold F. “Bud” Fisher who is finishing up his 39th year as athletics director in the school system remembers Jack as a “gangling youth with a lot of moxie.”
“He stood pretty close to six foot tall, and if my memory serves me right, he never weighed over 150 pounds while he played for me,” Fisher said with a smile.
“What he lacked in weight, he made up in desire. Jack was a tremendous competitor all the way in the three sports he participated in.”
An average student, he was popular with the student body. Jack played basketball, baseball and football during his high school career, but the national pastime proved to be his favorite.
He pitched and played first base. In the football wars he was a quarterback, and on the hardwood he was captain and an all round player.
“Why on the basketball court he sounded like a chatterbox. Never once during a game would he stop talking, and more often than not he drove his opponent to the depths of despair with his constant oratory,” Fisher laughingly recalled.
Pete Forsberg, Paul Mitchell, Jim Harvey, Gussie Gates, Eddie Heckman, George Turner, Bob Hackett, Lou Turner, George Nichols, Charlie Kelly and Frankie Perron were just a few of the athletes whom fans will recall as playing with the now famous coach.
After graduating from Westboro High, he enrolled at the University of Maine. Also entering the institution of higher learning at the same time was Jack’s older brother Jim, who had just been discharged from the service.
In their senior year, they were co-captains of the football team. On graduating, they both accepted positions as coaches with Maine, Jack as backfield mentor and Jim as line coach. (Jim later coached at Colgate and Ithaca.)
Jack took over the reins of Maine’s baseball team in 1955.
Some two years later, Jack was offered a backfield coaching position with the up and coming Boston College Eagles. Before making a decision, he turned to his former high school coach Fisher and asked him his opinion.
Fisher advised him to refuse the offer as it was just a straight coaching and scouting job with no offer of security.
At Maine, Fisher pointed out, Jack is a member of the physical education staff, head baseball coach, backfield coach of the football team and is almost virtually assured of being employed year by year. Jack, of course, refused the offer.
Jack continued at Maine through 1974 as head baseball coach before moving on to serve as the head baseball coach at South Florida from 1974-76. In 1976, Jack became Vice President of Player Development and Scouting for the New York Yankees under George Steinbrenner. Jack’s career ended in November of 1979 when he died tragically in a car accident at age 50. His funeral brought many Yankee players and management to Westborough. Jack is buried in Westborough’s Pine Grove Cemetery.