A recent photo of Bill Accinni.
My Tribute to Bill Accinni
By Richard Mabey Jr.
I graduated from Boonton High School, Class of 71, with Bill Accinni. There were about 500 kids in our class. We had the biggest class in the history of Boonton High School. And, there will probably never be another class as big as the Class of 71, in Boonton High School ever again. Since the students from Montville, Pine Brook and Towaco no longer attend Boonton High.
Bill and I were not close pals in high school. But I always held a high respect for Bill. You see, Bill was one of the best athletes in the entire school. Bill excelled in football and baseball! Bill was such a great football player that one of the big daily newspapers in New Jersey put his picture in the paper and did a big write up about Bill. This was no small potatoes.
I hold the high honor of having attended every single football game that Bill ever played in. I was a drummer in Boonton High’s marching band. Somewhere I have the certificate signed by Doc Warford, the school’s band leader, attesting to 100 percent attendance at all the football games from freshman year throughout senior year.
Here is one of the testaments to the greatness of Bill Accinni’s character. In my sophomore year at BHS, I asked my cardiologist if I could try out for the school’s baseball team. My cardiologist was very firm. He felt that it was enough for me to take gym class. He told me that he did not want me to try out for the baseball team. You see, I had rheumatic fever for one full year when I was in seventh grade. I did not listen to my doctor. I tried out for the baseball team.
Having had a most serious bout with rheumatic fever, I wasn’t as agile as the other boys. I didn’t have the stamina to run a lot of laps. I didn’t have the strength that the other boys had. The bottom line: I got cut from the baseball team. It hurt like heck.
The afternoon that I got cut from the baseball team, I went to the boys locker room earlier than the other boys. I felt dejected. I felt so deeply hurt. I didn’t even take a shower. I just changed from my sweat suit to my regular clothes. After I got dressed, I just sat on the bench by my locker and cried my eyes out.
That’s when the other boys from the baseball team came into the locker room. Some of them mocked me, ridiculed me, and made fun of me. I don’t know if Bill remembers it or not. But I remember it well. One boy stood up for me, in the midst of the mock outs, the ridicule and the hurtful words coming out of the mouths of the cowards. And, that boy was Bill Accinni.
I will never forget Bill’s words. Five words is what Bill said to the boys who mocked me and ridiculed me. Bill shouted with a most authoritative command.
“Hey, at least he tried!” Those five words fired out of the flame of Bill’s heart and inner being. Those five words shut up the sinful mouths of those hurtful boys. I will never forget those five words.
How far reaching was Bill’s kindness to me? Well, it’s 47 years later, and guess who I’m praising?
Bill Accinni was one of the greatest athletes in the history of Boonton High School. In our senior year, Bill led the football team to win the big regional championship. Bill took sports very serious. Simply put, he was a phenomenal football player. He was a magnificent baseball player.
But when all the dust is settled, above all else, Bill Accinni is a good man. I have nothing but respect and good will for Bill. Bill Accinni has a heart of gold. A heart of gold.