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Nov, 2020

Remembering Allen Burgess

Benevento Park served as a second home for Allen, who moved to North Reading with his wife, Anne, and two young children, Tyler and Elizabeth, in 1996, and joined the NRLL Board in 1999. For more than two decades, his efforts enhanced North Reading’s reputation as one of the state’s best baseball towns. He was the League’s Umpire in Chief from 1999-2015, its Summer League Director from 2003-2020, and coached at all levels, including in the in-town program and several NRLL All-Star Teams. He was also Tournament Director when NRLL hosted the 2017 State Championships.

Born June 23, 1959, Allen’s love of baseball began in the summer of 1967 with the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox, who reached that year’s World Series. He played Little League baseball in his native Malden and could be found most days at Linden Park, playing the game “strikeouts” with his friends. Allen attended hundreds of Red Sox games in person and also spent many weekends watching them with his dad, Kinnon (Kenny), along with several cousins and lifelong friends. 

While Allen and Anne owned a restaurant in Lynnfield for several years, and he went on to become a stockbroker and then a salesperson, baseball and family were the two loves of his life. His coaching career started in Medford in 1979 and continued in North Reading, where he coached his children – and hundreds of other youngsters – as they progressed through the NRLL program.

Allen adored and was very proud of his children. Over the past few years, he would golf with Ty almost every week. He also enjoyed being home with his family, together watching sports, game shows, and even the Science Channel. Allen also loved Ty’s dog, Archer, and would take him to the dog park nearly every day.

Elizabeth and Anne spent the last few months taking care of Allen as his illness progressed. Elizabeth reminisced, “Thanksgiving was always Dad’s favorite holiday, as it combined football, his family, and eating. In spite of the fact that he was thin his whole life, he loved to eat! It will not be the same without him.” 

Possessing a deep knowledge of the game with an ability to teach it in an easily understood way, Allen coached NRLL All-Star Teams from 2003-2019. His squads won 11 District titles and twice advanced to the State finals. He also inspired many NRLL players to become umpires.

“What made Allen special is that he continued to volunteer and coach long after his children moved on from the program,” said friend and fellow Board member Rich Giannattasio. “As an umpire, he had a great way with all the coaches, and his decisions were always fair and based on the rules.

“And he enjoyed going to meetings and making his opinion known. He also loved telling jokes – both during meetings and at the ‘unofficial’ meetings that always followed at China Cuisine.”

His memory will live forever at the Coach Allen Burgess Pavilion, where he was also a familiar sight “holding court.” Eddie Madden, the Chairman of the NRLL Board who served as master of ceremonies at the dedication, told those in attendance, “When we think of Allen, we’ll always think of his electric smile, his engaging conversations, and his occasional off-color jokes. As parents, we appreciate how he always took the time to get to know our kids, always treated them like his own, and asked about them long after their playing days were over.”

As Giannattasio unveiled the plaque naming the pavilion, he said, “This is a place and a community that Allen loves, and a place and community that loves Allen. It is fitting that this pavilion will forever be known as the Coach Allen Burgess Pavilion.” 

After the dedication, scores of cars did a “drive by” of the Burgess’ Kristyn Lane home.  Allen sat at the front door, waved, and gave the “thumbs up” sign to the drivers as they beeped their horns. Allen’s sister, Cindy, said, ‘I had not seen him smile that much in a long time.”

Allen was looking forward to serving as best man when his son married Marisa O’Rourke on Oct. 31. But just three days prior to the ceremony, Allen sadly lost his battle with cancer. As the news spread, tributes and stories poured in.

NRLL Board member and friend Mark Fisher said: “Every once in a while, you come across that person who is there for all the right reasons. Allen Burgess was one of those people. He was a person with no hidden agenda. He was someone who was genuinely there because he wanted to make things better for everyone else. He was truly unselfish.” 

Longtime friend and fellow Board member Marco Vittozzi added, “Allen was the epitome of a volunteer. Coach Al was dedicated to NRLL and the several generations of kids who flocked to the Little League field. He was a fierce advocate for the game, and he wanted all North Reading kids to have the opportunity to play and improve their skills. He was a great baseball man, a friend to all, and a wonderful family man. Godspeed, Allen.”

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