On Saturday City Councilor Sal LaMattina joined one of the founders, coaches and players of the East Boston Youth Basketball League program to celebrate the program’s 40th anniversary.
Started in 1973 by the late Marty Pino with the help of John Forbes, Michael Gaeta and other community members, the program has helped keep Eastie kids off the street and participating in a worthwhile activity for four decades.
“When I was 13 years old this league was started by some East Bostonians that wanted to help kids,” said LaMattina. “This program has become and important part of East Boston tradition and teaches kids the value of sportsmanship and teamwork.”
John Forbes, one of the original founders who still runs the Saturday morning basketball program joined Pino’s two sons, Marty and Anthony, to accept a certificate of appreciation from LaMattina.
“These guys (Marty and Anthony) have stepped up and helped keep the tradition going,” said Forbes. “We have almost 300 kids involved in the program this season and it’s all the work the coaches, players and referees do year in and year out that make it a success.”
Last year, over 300 friends and family Marty Pino helped dedicate the BCYF Orient Heights Community Center as the Martin Pino Community Center—the place were he coached thousands of Eastie youth over the years.
A lifelong resident of East Boston who passed away in 2003, Pino was an influence on the lives of countless young people in many ways but especially through the basketball league he helped start exactly 40 years ago at the Orient Heights Community Center. The movement to rename the center was started by Mario Gallotto who was coached by Pino and now helps run the basketball league with Forbes.
Pino was born in East Boston in 1952. Throughout his life he participated in many community activities and programs. At the East Boston Social Centers and East Boston Camps, his love of recreation and his desire to help other grew led to a job throughout the year. He eventually became a group leader, then Program Director and eventually Camp Director. His involvement continued until his death in 2003.
Aside from the successful Saturday basketball program, Pino developed many programs designed to help kids succeed such as a breakfast program at the Maverick Development in which he would pick up kids at risk of dropping out of school, feed them breakfast and then bring them to school.
With over 30 years of dedicated service to the children of East Boston, Marty spread his talents and wisdom as an East Boston Camp director, basketball coach, mentor, and father figure to many of who ended up working along side him years later.
“I’ve known Marty for most of my life. He was my camp councilor at the East Boston Camps before we worked together at the camps,” said Forbes, a longtime friend and colleague of Pino. “He is probably the biggest inspiration in my life. Speaking from my heart, there hasn’t been one single person that has affected me the way Marty did. He was a unique and special person.”