A Good Friend to Chelsea:Ronald “Ronnie” Madden, Founder of Local Softball League, Passes Away at the Age of 64

May 13, 2017
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Ronald “Ronnie” A. Madden, a founder of the Chelsea Modified Fast Pitch Softball League in the late 1970s, died May 6, 2017 after a gallant battle against various illnesses. He was 64.

Ronnie Madden during his modified fast pitch softball managerial days in Chelsea.

Ronnie Madden during his modified fast pitch softball managerial days in Chelsea.

Jack Madden said that his beloved older brother, Ronnie, had been living at Parsons Hill Nursing Home in Worcester for the last nine years.

In addition to his brother, Jack, Ronnie Madden also leaves his brothers, Robert Madden and Jamie Madden, sisters Donna Madden and Linda Madden, his former wife, Elaine Ryan, stepchildren Brandon Ryan and Kaitlyn Ryan, and several nephews and nieces.

The son of John W. Madden and Margaret (McDonald) Madden, Ronnie Madden was born on Sept. 15, 1952. He grew up in Chelsea and attended local schools.

Ronnie earned the respect of all his siblings and friends with his kindness and warm personality.

“We all looked up to him,” said Jack Madden. “We had some great times growing up. Like all brothers, we had our differences, but we ended up getting close when we grew older.”

A very good left-handed baseball pitcher and first baseman, Ronnie Madden played in the Chelsea Little League and for the Pony League Braves coached by Libby Cancellieri.

“I remember he even played catcher with a righty’s catching mitt which was weird because he throws left handed,” said Jack Madden. “He was actually doing a good job.”

Ronnie continued his love of baseball with his participation in softball, eventually founding the Chelsea Modified Fast Pitch Softball League with the assistance of Mike Zard. Ronnie was the driving force and manager of the Max’s Café team that was comprised of several outstanding Chelsea athletes including Mike Lush, Harvey Raley, Bobby Walker, Ellis Tilley, Steve Antinick, Michael Lake, and Jack Madden, who was the team’s catcher.

“Ronnie was very instrumental in helping develop that Max’s team and keeping those guys together – it was a lot of fun, that’s what I’ll remember most,” recalled Jack Madden, reflecting on a bygone era when softball was a summertime ritual at Highland Park for players and fans and Ronnie Madden was king of the most popular league in the area.

Ronnie Madden worked as a custodian at the Chelsea Soldiers Home. He was dedicated to his job, making the long commute from Fitchburg to Chelsea each day.

A constant theme in Ronnie Madden’s life was his love of all things baseball and Boston sports.

“Ronnie loved all sports, but especially baseball,” said Jack Madden. “He was extremely knowledgeable when it came to sports trivia. He loved the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics, and the Bruins. He was a student of the game. His heart was with the Boston teams.”

Jack Madden recalled the October night in 1986 when the Red Sox were on the brink of beating the New York Mets in Game 6 of the World Series.

“Ronnie was in Chelsea and I was in Rhode Island and it’s the infamous nobody on, two outs, one strike away from the Sox winning the World Series,” recalled Jack. “I called my brother and I said, “we’re finally going to do it – we’re finally going to win the World Series.’

“Ronnie’s response was, They’re going to find a way to blow it,’ – and of course, he was right, they blew it. I wouldn’t talk to him for two weeks after that.”

Jack Madden said he is having a difficult time dealing with the death of his brother.

“Saturday was an extremely difficult day for me,” he said. “We loved Ronnie. But I know he’s in a better place. He’s with God and my mother now.”


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