By Josh Resnek
and Cary Shuman
Alice O’Neil, by every stretch of the imagination, was a legendary figure in the life and times of youth sports in this city for 40 years. Because of her leadership and interest in the youth of this city, many Lynn Little League baseball players had a great experience playing the sport.
Mrs. O’Neil was outgoing, personable, friendly but when she was at the ballpark, you knew she was in charge and you felt confident that your child was being well taken care of and he or she was benefiting from her guidance.
Mrs. O’Neil took a fall at her home over the weekend. She was rushed to the Union Hospital where died Sunday night.
Mrs. O’Neil, who attended St. Mary’s High School, was front and center for the school’s 65th Class Reunion last September at the Porthole Restaurant.
For many years, she lived in the senior citizens’ residence on North Common Street.
Throughout a long life, she was well known and admired by all those who came in touch with her through their association with Lynn Little League baseball.
One of her greatest achievements, which had tremendous meaning for her, was founding the Lynn Challenger Little League. It is a program for physically challenged athletes.
The parents, children, coaches and “buddies” in the Challenger Program came to love her gentle, knowing way of making baseball an important and enjoyable part of their lives.
Mrs. O’Neil was always firm but fair. Her decisions always had to do with what was best for the kids.
She particularly enjoyed getting involved in the Grace Rogato Softball Award selection process and overseeing the banquet each year.
She loved recognizing the athletic prowess and community service of girls in the Lynn Little League Softball programs.
In addition, Mrs. O’Neil was well known throughout the North Shore as the administrator of the District 16 All-Star Tournament.
From Winthrop to Swampscott, Saugus to Revere, and in her beloved hometown of Lynn, Little League officials and parents warmly greeted this larger-than-life figure at all tournament games.
Though she had retired as District 16 administrator in 2009, she remained a visible presence at Little League fields and events.
She still had enthusiasm and energy and was looking forward to continuing her work for the city’s Little League athletes in the spring.
There are no more Alice O’Neils coming up the ladder in the city today.
Her death is a tremendous loss to the children and parents of this city.