Fourteen years ago, Lincoln High School was hit with a true tragedy. Michael Monteleone, a 14-year-old baseball player, collapsed suddenly on the field. He was quickly rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Monteleone was beloved by his friends and by the Lincoln community, and his death shook the Lincoln community to its core.
Exactly fourteen years to the day later, May 9, 2019, Monteleone has received the ultimate honor for a baseball player- having his number retired.
According to the Valley Breeze, Michael had posthumously been diagnosed with a disorder of the heart’s muscular wall, and on that day fourteen years ago, the disorder resulted in the worst tragedy imaginable.
Following Michael’s death, the Monteleone family set up the Michael J. Monteleone Memorial Fund. Alongside being a scholarship fund, its goal was to raise money to provide defibrillators to public places within Lincoln. Now, throughout the Lincoln public school systems, defibrillators are adorned throughout every school. Each AED is adorned with a picture of Monteleone.
During the ceremony, every spring sports team carried an AED onto the field. Without the efforts of the Monteleone family following Michael’s death, many places in Lincoln and surrounding towns possibly wouldn’t have any.
“At a vigil for a grieving community fourteen years ago, I said that I hoped that we would all keep Michael with us. I think today is evidence that those words have proven true,” Mr. McNamara said.
Many spectators were visibly moved by the pregame ceremony. The event was most moving, however, for Michael’s parents. During the pregame ceremony, father Anthony gave a speech to the crowd.
“Michael would be very happy and honored to see this incredible pouring of love and affection that each and every one of you are bestowing upon him today,” Monteleone said.
“The best attribute of Michael as it pertained to sports was his sportsmanship. When Michael was in Little League, he gave up a home run to his friend Jeremy Rowe. We lost the game, and I was looking for Michael. I said ‘Where is he?’ He was in the other team’s dugout shaking his friend’s hand,” he continued.
“So I would like to thank you all for making this game, this day, and this hour a celebration of Michael’s life.”
Patricia Monteleone, Michael’s mother, was emotional following the ceremonies.
“It’s hard to put it in words because this is where Michael passed away. But it’s also where everyone that loved him has come together for this honor and I’ll never forget it.”
Both Anthony and Patricia Monteleone were also presented with framed copies of Michael’s number 8 jersey. This jersey, unlike most Lincoln baseball jerseys, had the name “Monteleone” written on the back. That jersey will forever and always belong to Michael.
This is only the third number in Lincoln High School’s history to be retired in any sport. Inside LHS’s gym hangs the number 11 jersey of Bethany O’Dell, the only basketball player to have ever reached 2,000 points in the history of the school. Just outside the gym is the hockey jersey of Derek Parenteau- another LHS athlete whose life ended too young.
Now, Monteleone’s number 8 will rightly join theirs underneath the scoreboard at Chet Nichols Field.
This story was written the day of Michael Monteleone’s jersey retirement. I also covered this story on-air for WPRO.