By ALEX SPONSELLER Cranston sports legend Mario Pagano passed away recently at the age of 77. Pagano was one of the most prolific athletes to come out of Cranston. He was a three-sport athlete at Cranston High School, playing baseball, basketball, and
By ALEX SPONSELLER Cranston sports legend Mario Pagano passed away recently at the age of 77.
Pagano was one of the most prolific athletes to come out of Cranston. He was a three-sport athlete at Cranston High School, playing baseball, basketball, and quarterback for the football team.
In 1961, during his senior season, Pagano broke the state record by recording 30 strikeouts in a game that lasted 15 innings. He would later be inducted to the Cranston Athletics Hall of Fame.
After his graduation in 1961, he went on to be drafted by the Boston Red Sox and competed in the farm system for six years.
As a young pitcher, he competed against many greats and got to know Red Sox legends like Tony Conigliaro and George Scott. In 1964, he recorded a 14-7 record and was considered to be one of the top pitching prospects in the organization. However, he was called to serve in the National Guard which forced him to put his baseball career on hold prior to making the trip to spring training.
“He came from a very athletic family and a great background in the Red Sox (organization). He roomed with some famous ball players like Tony Conigliaro, he met some pretty great people. There were a lot of great memories,” said his brother, Anthony, of his time with the Red Sox.
After six years in pro baseball, Pagano retired and returned back to Rhode Island. From there, he would work in the automobile industry in finance and continued to stay active playing slow pitch softball. He taught his children the game, who went on to teach their own kids. In his later years, Pagano’s passion became watching his grandchildren competing in their sports.
“He was very popular in Cranston and he was a hell of a ball player. He and the brothers were all great athletes. After he retired, he continued to play sports, he played a lot of slow pitch softball oftentimes with other great former baseball players in the area. I can’t tell you the number of teams he played for. He just loved the sport, and now his kids and grandkids are playing and are good players,” said Anthony.
Pagano spent the last two decades in Billerica, Mass. However, he made sure to make the trip to watch his grandkids play, and loved every minute of it.
“It was very special to him, his bond with his children and his grandchildren. He never bragged about himself, but he was always bragging about his grandchildren,” said Anthony. “He went to all their games, he didn’t live close by but he made sure he would get to all of their games. He was just a real good person all-around, very humble.”