A Toast, to Buckland: Friends, Family Mourn the Loss of One of Lynn’s Beloved Residents

Ray Buckland is in the Medford High Mustang Hall of Fame, the Boston State College Hall of Fame, and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.

A towering, 6-feet-5-inch guard/forward, Ray Buckland reigned over the Greater Boston League in the 1970s when Medford High was a Division 1 contender and GBL basketball was second to none.

The hundreds of friends, classmates, teammates, and family who showed up at the Dello Russo Funeral Home in Medford last Saturday were testament to what a lasting, positive impact the great Ray Buckland had on their lives and the city of Medford’s sports scene.

‘Buck’ also became a phenomenon in Lynn with his magnetic personality, his gentle giantness as they called it, and his distinguished presence at so many of his son Sean Buckland’s baseball games.

Tony Nicosia Sr. said Ray Buckland was a larger-than-life figure, and the patrons at Tony’s Pub, where Buck was a popular bartender for the past 13 years, admired him greatly.

“Buck had a vibrant personality,” said Nicosia. “Everyone loved him. I loved him. My son [Tony Jr.] loved him. Even though he is not with us, he will always be with us.”

Nicosia said Buck always brought cheer and joy into the lives of pub patrons.

“Even If they came into the pub and felt a little dejected – they would leave there smiling because of Buck,” said Nicosia. “He was an immense personality with a personality that matched his stature.”

Nicosia said that Buck was also a man devoted to his family. “He was a wonderful, wonderful guy, very devoted to his wife [Robin] and their son. Sean and Buck had a bond that most families would be very proud to have. Buck loved his son and his son loved him. I can’t say enough about him. I’m deeply, deeply sorry about his passing and I’m going to miss him.”

Former North Reading baseball coach Frank Carey knew of Buck’s legendary career as a basketball player and as a fire-balling righthanded pitcher in the Intercity Baseball League, but he also had witnessed Buck in his role as a volunteer baseball coach at St. Mary’s High School.

“Ray was coaching the fall St. Mary’s baseball team and they were playing at North Reading and I happened be in the concession booth and I’m watching Ray in the coach’s box giving all kinds of gestures,” said Carey. “There was a runner on third base, so I barked out some sort of a signal and I suspected that Ray was calling for a squeeze bunt. We pitched out and nailed the runner by a mile. I waved at Buck and said, ‘Nice try, coach’.”

But Ray Buckland would even the count, so to speak, when his son, Sean, a 2012 St. Mary’s High School graduate, struck out 13 batters in a game against North Reading in the Clancy Tournament.

“Sean was a terrific, left-handed pitcher for St. Mary’s and we had a team that very seldom struck out,” recalled Clancy. “Sean struck out 13 players that game and, of course, Ray never let me forget it about his kid.”

‘Buck, you’re one of the best’

At the funeral service in Medford, former Greater Lynn Babe Ruth President Jim Beliveau delivered a beautiful eulogy about Ray Buckland, a friend he first met while he and Buck were students at Boston State College.

“It is an honor and privilege to stand before you today to pay tribute to a great guy that was loved by so many,” said Beliveau. “I’ve known Buck for 40-plus years. We shared [class] notes through our four years of college, as well as sharing a few beers at the college pub. We went our separate ways after college and lo and behold, our paths would cross again at St. Mary’s High School when my son, Ryan, and Buck’s son, Sean, played together on the baseball team.

“It was a great thing having our boys play baseball together and we loved it immensely,” said Beliveau. “And things got better after high school when both boys went to Salem State.”

Beliveau spoke about how much he enjoyed the spring trips to Florida with Ray during the Salem State baseball season.

“There was one occasion where we rented a Mustang convertible,” recalled Beliveau. “Buck had to sit in the back seat, and I had to drive with the roof down, because he was so big. Over those four years together, we shared the best baseball memories.”

Beliveau then noted the gentlemanly presence of Buck behind the bar at Tony’s Pub.

“Fridays was Buck Day and with the city workers getting out at noon, most ventured to Tony’s to see their favorite bartender,” said Beliveau.

Looking back on his many years of friendship and fond memories of being in Buck’s company at baseball games, Beliveau said, “The memories Buck made are truly priceless and will be cherished forever. As long as we hold on to those memories, the legend of Buck will live on. As the saying goes, only the good guys die young – and Buck, you’re one of the best. Rest in peace, buddy. I love you.”

Father Richard, pastor of the Sacred Heart Church, in Malden, officiated at the tribute to Ray Buckland. The spiritual leader told the large gathering and the Buckland family, specifically Ray and Robin Buckland’s son, Sean Buckland, “Sometimes we don’t realize how many lives we touch. And this is a great honor and a great tribute to you, to mom, and the family. It’s nice to know you’re loved.”

And Raymond J. ‘Buck’ Buckland was genuinely loved by all.

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