Two N.H. legends – Dan Parr and Carlton Fisk – competed for a Class M basketball championship 55 years ago

  • Dan Parr coached high school basketball in New Hampshire for 55 years. One of the best games? The 1965 Class M boys semifinal game between Parr’s Hopkinton Hawks and Charlestown, which featured a young Carlton Fisk. Parr retired in 2016 with a state record 704 coaching victories. Ioanna Raptis / Seacoastonline files

  • No. 20 in the back row is a young Carlton Fisk, pictured in 1963 after the Charlestown (N.H.) High School Forts went 25-0 to win the NHIAA Class M championship. Fisk set an NHIAA tournament record in 1965 for field goals in a game that still stands. Courtesy

The Seacoast Sunday
Published: 3/22/2020 5:22:57 PM

Dan Parr doesn’t remember it like it was yesterday. But his recall was still pretty good considering he’d been asked to dust off a memory that occurred 55 years ago.

It probably didn’t hurt that Carlton Fisk featured prominently in that recollection.

When discussing NHIAA basketball tournament records, you’d be seriously remiss not to mention Fisk. The Baseball Hall of Fame catcher, who played for both the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, still holds the Class M/Division III boys record for field goals in a single tournament game with 19 while playing for the old Charlestown (N.H.) High School Forts during the 1965 tournament. He actually shares the record with Woodsville’s Stephen Elliott who hit that identical mark the year before.

Fifty-five years later, both still share the same space in the Division III/IV tournament program.

On a winter’s night in late February of 1965, Parr’s Hopkinton High School team met Fisk’s Charlestown squad in the Class M semifinals at Portsmouth High School, Parr’s next coaching stop five years later. Parr went on to coach high school basketball for 55 years in New Hampshire, retiring in 2016 with a state record 704 coaching wins.

Portsmouth was the tourney site that year because the usual host, the University of New Hampshire, was under construction.

“It was one of the very best games I have ever been a part of between two really good teams,” Parr recalled. One in which the 6-foot-3 Fisk had a monster game. He scored 40 points on 19 field goals and two foul shots, and hauled down 36 rebounds.

Hopkinton won the Class S state title the previous year before moving up to M, so it had some pretty good talent as well. There was 6-foot-5 George Sharpe, who scored 33 points, and 6-9 Craig Corson, who later played for Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina.

Fisk and Sharpe pretty much played each other, noted Parr, now 80. Fisk is 72.

“Fisk was 6-3, but he played like he was 6-8,” said Parr, who lives in Rye. “It was such a physical match between them. It was kind of back and forth all the way.”

Charlestown led by three after the first quarter, but Hopkinton responded to lead 36-31 at the half and 59-50 after three stops. The relentless Fisk pulled Charlestown back in the fourth, but fouled out with 1:16 to play. The Hawks held on to win, 73-71.

“I’m sure the Charlestown people thought he was done wrong on that last call,” Parr said. “I think it was a charging call. Even though Fisk scored 40, he only made two foul shots, so I thought our kids played pretty good defense, too, without fouling.”

Parr chuckled. “I’m sure he figured he should have got more foul shots. On the other hand I’m thinking we should have fouled him out earlier just the way he was playing,” which was very physical.

Hopkinton went on to win the Class M title over Goffstown, 61-49, and then repeated the next year to complete a run of three straight state championships in two different classes.

Parr recollects a number of years later when he was coaching at Portsmouth, Fisk showed up with Bob Lobell to do a Portsmouth game for a Manchester radio station.

The first thing Fisk said when he came in and saw Parr was something to the effect of, “We got screwed,” referencing his fifth foul in the ’65 game.

“He went into this long tirade about the game,” Parr said, “and that last foul that fouled him out of the game wasn’t right.”

Later on Parr remembers seeing an interview in print where Fisk again brought up that game. “Like it was something that had been eating at him for his entire life,” Parr said. “That’s how competitive he was. He was the first guy that I ever saw dunk a basketball in a game. He was scary; he was so big and strong and competitive.”

Fisk was a well-rounded athlete who also played soccer and baseball for Charlestown. He was integral as a sophomore when the Forts went 25-0 to win the 1963 Class M hoop title. He earned a basketball scholarship to the University of New Hampshire where he also played baseball. But in 1967, Fisk’s life changed forever. He was drafted in the first round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft by the Red Sox.

Fisk spent 24 years in the majors, hitting one of the game’s most famous home runs to win one of baseball’s most memorable games – Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Fisk’s old high school in Charlestown closed not long after he graduated, folding into Fall Mountain Regional High School, located in Langdon, with a handful of other area communities.

Parr, for his part, also attended UNH – and played baseball. One of his teammates was another future coaching legend – local gridiron great Rod Wotton.

Parr coached basketball at Hopkinton for nine years, followed by 12 in Portsmouth, a JV girls year at Oyster River, and then 27 at St. Thomas Aquinas coaching boys (and winning two more state titles). Finally, he returned to Portsmouth to guide the Clipper girls team for five years until his retirement in 2016.

The Fisk game remains a Parr favorite.

“We were small-town schools, Class M, and playing in Portsmouth was a big deal for both teams, I’m sure,” he said. “The atmosphere was great, just an outstanding basketball game.”

One it seems hasn’t slipped Carlton Fisk’s memory either.

(This story also ran on Saturday at

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