If there were a Revere High School Hall of Fame, Mike Popp would be a unanimous choice for hitting a sizzling .404 and being a GBL All-Star for the 1995 team, arguably the greatest in school history.
But there is more to the Popp baseball story. The senior second baseman hit the game-winning, walk-off home run in a memorable Revere-Malden matchup that featured two Major League draft picks, Mike Spinelli of Revere and Kevin McGlinchey of Malden, on the mound.
There were 30 MLB scouts behind the backstop clocking the southpaw Spinelli, with the incredible pickoff move, and the right-handed, fireballer McGlinchey.
Both hurlers lived up to their pre-game billing, but it was the 5-foot-10-inch Popp, who stole the show and sent the Revere fans into jubilation and Al Blasi’s unforgettable team on to the Greater Boston League title.
In fact, it was Popp who earned the next-day newspaper headline, “Revere gets some Popp in its bats” in recognition of his legendary home run in front of a massive Revere crowd.
Popp, manager of the popular Pine River Fish Market on American Legion Highway, recalled the biggest moment of the magical season.
“I hit a fastball over the fence in left center,” said Popp, whose parents, Raymond and Eileen, were in attendance. “It felt great. They welcome me at home plate. It’s one of the best memories of that season. We won a game in the State Tournament and then lost to a very good Andover team.”
As for playing alongside Mike Spinelli, Popp said, “He was the best high school pitcher I’ve ever seen by far and he had the most extraordinary pickoff move. If you did get on base, he’d pick you off.”
A Two-Time Little League All-Star
Like all aspiring baseball players in Revere, Mike Popp began his career in the Revere Little League at McMackin Park.
Popp was a two-time All-Star for the Revere East 12-year-old Williamsport team. “There were two All-Stars team, East and West – if they had combined the teams, we would have made a big run in the Districts, I believe,” recalled Popp, who hit several home runs out of McMackin.
Along with other rising stars like Mike Spinelli, Dave Lightbody, Dennis Diaz, Brian Spagnola, they moved on to the Revere Babe Ruth program and excelled for the All-Star teams.
A Three-Year Starter at RHS
Popp made his varsity debut at Revere High School as a sophomore right fielder and leadoff hitter. The 1993 Patriots were ranked as the No. 3 team in the state.
“We had a really good team that year,” said Popp. “Spinelli and [Karl] Bussey were the pitchers and we made it to the sectional finals where we lost, 5-4, to Central Catholic.”
Popp moved to the fifth spot in the order and hit his first career home run. He had two more home runs in his senior year, including his legendary blast against Malden.
Popp’s senior season went as expected with Al Blasi guiding the exciting team to a GBL title. Spinelli was a league MVP, while Popp, Lightbody, and leadoff batter Frankie Candela were GBL First Team All-Star selections.
“Mr. Blasi was the best coach ever,” said Popp. “I learned the game from him. We had a great assistant coach, too – Steve Cushing. Steve had coached us all growing up and when we got to high school, he knew all of us.”
Twenty Innings Versus Sandwich
The love of baseball was real back then and Popp spent his high school summers playing for the Post 61 American Legion team managed by Rich Robichaud and coached by Mike Kearney.
Post 61 won the regional playoffs and headed to Fino Field in Milford for the State Playoffs. Once there, Post 61 engaged in a 20-inning marathon versus the Sandwich Legion team. Future MLB draft picks Allen Levrault and Mike Spinelli each pitched the first 12 innings. Revere won the game, 3-2, in the 20th inning.
“I just remember it being a long game,” said Popp. “That game made us run out of pitching and lose the tournament.”
The Popp Tradition Continues
Michael Joseph Popp, son of Michael Robert Popp and Nicole Popp, is carrying on the baseball tradition in the family. Mustangs Babe Ruth Manager Patrick Keefe Jr. said the 15-year-old Popp was the best offensive player in the Revere Babe Ruth this season.
“He a good player,” said Popp. “He’ll be a sophomore this year. My father does a lot for my son. He takes him to all his baseball games when I’m working. My son plays a lot of baseball. I’m hoping that Revere High can become a winning baseball program again. They have a good group of young players who have been playing together for a long time.”
Breanna Popp, a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, was a captain of the Revere High volleyball team and a member of the lacrosse team. She is majoring in Criminal Justice.
Praise from a Teammate
Steve Fiore was a very good baseball player for Revere High himself and remembers his teammate Mike Popp’s exploits on the field very well.
“Mike didn’t say much – he let his bat do the talking on the field,” said Fiore. “He was as good as any player in the GBL at that time. He played fearlessly and was a hard-nosed scrappy player. He had a tremendous high school career and we share a lot of great memories as do all of our teammates.”