The Red Moustache Manuscripts

The Red Moustache Manuscripts contains vignettes chronicling over a half century of adventures. Some of the stories are amusingly funny while others can be seriously enlightening. So come in and enjoy a truly unique experience!

On Their Sleeves: Part Nine


Vincent Ferrini, Derek Little, and Jack Cosgrove would all add their names to the list of outstanding athletes produced in Norton, Massachusetts…


Born in Ware, Massachusetts on February 1, 1933, Vincent G. Ferrini, Jr. was two school years ahead of his best friend “Jackie” Cosgrove. After spending the first several years of his life in Barry Plains, MA (21 miles north of Worcester) and then two years in York, PA, at age ten Vinny and his family returned to Norton, MA, the town that had been home to his mother, Angela Rich Ferrini. “Junior”, as he was called as a youngster, entered the Norton school system in the 5th grade where he met his sweetheart and future wife, Dixie Lee Dodge.

Vinny’s father owned and operated the General Welding Company from a garage located behind their house at 145 West Main Street which was in close proximity to the Reynolds Apartments where the Cosgrove's lived. An only child, Jackie looked up to Vinny and treated him like an older brother. Vinny had one sister, Alicia, who was five years older than him and with no other siblings, he spent a lot of time with Jackie, treating him as a younger brother. Their love of baseball and basketball kept the two boys busy seven days a week, from dawn till dusk. Along with Derek Little, another neighborhood kid who was one year ahead of Jackie, the three honed their athletic skills by playing sports until long after they were late for dinner.

During the winter of 1945, Vinny, Derek and Jackie regularly skated across the Norton Reservoir. The usual order was Vinny, who was the oldest (12) and the fastest skater, then Derek, with young Jackie in the back. They would begin off West Main Street, skating until they passed a small Island and came to the road (Route 140), where, with their skates still on they would cross the paved roadway by DaGuiar’s Package Store and then continue across the frozen reservoir. On this day, the three boys were on their way to visit Dixie Lee who lived on the reservoir in the Norton Grove section of town…

The first half of the journey across the reservoir was going well. Using long powerful strokes and a consistent, rhythmical stride, “The Three Caballeros” were maintaining an incredible pace, Derek and Jackie doing their best to stay in Vinny’s slipstream. Then, without warning, Vinny and Derek hit a channel that ran perpendicular to the direction they were skating and the thin ice above it immediately collapsed beneath them, dropping the two boys like lead weights into the icy-cold reservoir. Derek was able to pull himself up, but Vinny’s water-soaked, wool Mackinaw jacket prevented him from effectively reaching for solid ice. Jackie, who had been a good distance behind his two older friends, was able to avoid the same fate, but was quickly overwhelmed when he discovered what had happened. Just when it looked as though this event may have catastrophic results, fifteen year old Eddie “Sonny” Hesford, who had gotten off to a late start, caught up with his friends. Sensing a problem, he quickly pushed his right foot forward, turned his ankle, and by pushing his toe and knee inward and heel to the side, he was able to come to a grinding halt, spraying a thick mist of ice dust in front of him. Jackie quickly skated to the shore of the Island 100 feet away and returned with the four foot stick that Sonny used to pull Vinny to safety.

Cold and wet, Vinny stood on solid ground shivering, overcome by a sudden sense of malaise, concerned about what his father’s reaction would be when he found out that the new shoes he stashed in the pockets of his wool Mackinaw had sunk to the bottom of the reservoir…

Vinny displayed a great deal of athletic ability in junior high, enough that high school Principal and baseball coach Charlie Randall would take him out of class early to play baseball, much to the chagrin of Vinny’s eighth grade teachers. Vinny was a slick-fielding shortstop with the bat to match.

It was on the first day of Vinny’s freshman year in high school (September 1947) that after driving Alicia back to Rhode Island State College, alone in her car and less than a mile from her home, Angela Ferrini fell asleep at the wheel. Just 36 years old, she died in the crash leaving Vinny brokenhearted, a feeling that would remain with him throughout his entire life. Alicia left college to help out at home, but no longer having the watchful eyes of his mother to look after him, Vinny let his grades slip. Using sports as an outlet for his sorrow, he continued to excel at baseball and basketball.

Although he was only 5’2” tall as a freshman, his quickness and skill more than made up for his lack of height and Vinny played junior varsity basketball for Joe Dzenwagis, his favorite coach. Vinny had a great freshman year and was asked to join the varsity squad for the last game of the season, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.

In February of 1949, at the age of 16 and in his junior year, Vinny developed double pneumonia (pleurisy) and after initially being hospitalized with what was believed to be a life-threatening illness, he made a remarkable recovery, returning to the basketball team after missing only two games.

During Vinny’s brief absence his best friend Jackie Cosgrove filled in for him. It was after a bedside visit that included an inspirational pep talk, that the freshman guard scored 17 points in the annual alumni game. During the regular season Vinny averaged 12 points per game for a strong Norton Tiger team that finished 2nd in the Mayflower League, establishing themselves as legitimate contenders.

In the spring of 1949, Vinny Ferrini, Derek Little, and Jackie Cosgrove (The Three Caballeros) would have their first opportunity to play high school baseball together…

Powered by Squarespace.  Copyright 2014 Vincent LeVine