Residents are mourning the loss of Joseph C. Stutto Sr., one of the greatest and most revered youth sports coaches and leaders in the city’s long history.
Mr. Stutto died on May 7 at the Massachusetts General Hospital after a brief illness. He was 68.
Joe Stutto was a lifelong resident and graduated from Chelsea High School. He was a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a recipient of the Purple Heart Medal.
While he was widely known for his talented disk jockeying, singing, and hosting of karaoke shows, it was in his role as a coach in Chelsea youth sports leagues that made him a beloved fatherly figure to countless Chelsea kids whom he mentored.
Joe Stutto’s coaching career allowed him to watch from the sidelines as his son, Joe Stutto Jr., developed into an outstanding high school athlete and personable and kind young man. From Pop Warner to Little League to Youth Bassketball and Youth Baseball, Joe Stutto Jr. carried his father’s name proudly and learned directly from his dad how to be a good teammate, a sportsman, and a team leader. Joe Stutto Jr. is an officer in the Chelsea Police Department, a position that engenders universal respect and symbolizes bravery – a career of which his father took great pride.
‘A Man of Many Skills With a Big Heart’
Bucky Cole said he had “the honor” of coaching alongside Joe Stutto in the Chelsea Pop Warner football organization. Bucky also noted that his son, Tommy, and Mr. Stutto’s son, Joe, were teammates on the Northeast Regional football and baseball teams.
Bucky said that Joe Stutto was a man with a big heart” and possessor of many skills.
“Joe was a great guy,” said Bucky. “He had a great singing voice, was a great karaoke DJ – everything he did, he did well. He was a handy guy. Whenever you needed something living in the projects, if your car broke down, he was always over fixing it for you, doing something. Every kid in the neighborhood, he cared about.”
The Pop Warner years together were special, said Bucky. “We had so much fun – myself, Joe Stutto, John Bondola, Ray Deleidi, Jerry Fontenot coaching and teaching football,” recalled Bucky.
“I had Joe Jr. on the ‘D’ team with kids like Nicky Bondola, Chris LaChance, and my son, Tommy,” he said. “Joe Stutto was a really good football and baseball player. He became a home run hitter in the Youth Baseball League. Joey played football with my son, Tommy, at Northeast, and he was a fast runner.”
Bucky said he’s saddened by the passing of his friend. “He’s going to be missed – everybody loved him. Joey LaChance, Brian Higgins, all of his former players absolutely loved him. He was a good man.”
Al Mazin knew the gregarious and larger-than-life Joe Stutto on the DJ circuit and from his years of living in Chelsea.
“He was a wonderful person, so talented and always wanting you to have a fun night of music and karaoke,” said Mazin. “I knew him for many years and I don’t know anyone that he didn’t try to lift up and make them smile in his presence. I know the esteem in which he was held by his fellow coaches and the players he’s coached. I will miss Joe dearly.”
“He Enriched Lives,” says Son Joe Jr.
Joe Stutto Sr. presided over Chelsea Little League for many years and was a coach during the Larry Dulong Era. He also ran the Pop Warner program for a year.
“My father started coaching youth sports when I was about 8-or-9 years old, so he did it for over 30 years,” said Joe Stutto Jr.
Messages of gratitude for his father’s mentoring and the many kindnesses to kids through the decades have been extended to Joe Jr. over the past week. He has been touched by the outpouring of love from so many people.
“Being my father, I already knew he was a great guy, but you get to see from an outsider’s perspective from the impact he had on other children – that was his whole life,” said Joe Jr.
Joe Jr. said that like many families in Chelsea, there were challenges along the way,
“Meager means was putting it nicely,” said Joe Jr. “We grew up very poor in the projects. But he just enriched so the lives of so many kids in the city. That’s what he lived for and he did for over 30 years.”
Little League Baseball in Chelsea became Joe Stutto’s biggest forum of assisting young athletes.
He oversaw the league, coached for 25-30 years, and won multiple championship with the Pirates.
“He was like the Tommy Lasorda of Little League Baseball,” said Joe Jr. “But more importantly he just lived to help kids. He had an impact on so many children’s lives. We know this city is very hard to grow up in and I would like to personally believe that kids could’ve gone in the wrong direction – maybe they were nudged a little bit by an impression my father may have left on them.”
Joe Stutto Sr. left his indelible mark on Chelsea in a positive way. Coaches loved coaching with him and kids loved playing sports for him.
He may have coached the Pirates, but Joe Stutto Sr. was a Giant in every good sense of the word.