From pillar to post, the little man stands tall among the coaching fraternity of Greater New Bedford.

William “Bill” Ferreira was the main support system for the Catholic Youth Organization’s sports programs in general, and for the Mount Carmel Parish in particular, through periods of four decades in the last millennium.

Born in 1903, the New Bedford native grew up in the South End of New Bedford and made his mark as a teenage athlete by pitching and playing the outfield for the Dartmouth Mill team in the Junior Industrial Baseball League. When he wasn’t playing baseball, Ferreira turned to roller polo which, after baseball, was arguably the most popular local sport of the time. He played that sport at various levels throughout his teenage years but when it came down to making a choice, the diamond sport was Ferreira’s crowned jewel.

Deeply religious and totally dedicated to his family and friends, Ferreira lived by the motto: "Clean minds in clean bodies through active participation in athletics.”

In December of 1938, Ferreira practiced what he preached by organizing Mount Carmel’s first sports program. Boosters and perspective athletes were recruited and the following spring, the first baseball team was formed to represent the parish in the city’s CYO Baseball League. Not surprisingly Ferreira was named the team’s manager and following an inaugural season of trial and error, the Carmelites won the first of what would be an unprecedented seven consecutive New Bedford championships and three Fall River Diocesan titles for the church on Rivet Street. And Ferreira was either the manager or coach for all seven.

In 1945 he helped guide Mount Carmel to a fifth-straight city CYO championship and second consecutive Diocesan title, marking the first time any team in the diocese had accomplished such a feat. The following season, only an appealed decision that went against them in a 5-4 loss in the deciding game of a best-of-three championship series denied Ferreira’s team from making it three Diocesan championships in a row.

Through his first six championship seasons on the Mount Carmel bench, Ferreira’s teams compiled an overall record of 122-13. After eight seasons, the record was an eye-popping 160-29. As impressive as the won-lost record was, however, stress and strain began to take its toll on the little man and following his 11th season on the bench, Ferreira announced his retirement.

But when inactivity proved to be his toughest adversary, Bill decided to return to the bench and serve in a lesser role.

When invited by a priest from another parish to manage that baseball team, Ferreira respectfully declined, saying “Mount Carmel CYO is my baby. I love my boys at Mount Carmel and just can’t bring myself up to coaching a team against them.” His desire to work with young athletes, however, was too tempting to turn his back completely and, eventually, Ferreira agreed to help condition and train athletes from the other parish and anything else that didn’t include managing and coaching.

And he did, for a while.

But when his separation from his beloved boys of Mount Carmel proved too much to handle, Ferreira returned “home” ready and willing to serve in whatever capacity he was needed. Sadly, that would be a problem. Because Ferreira couldn’t say no, working at two masses on Sunday and overseeing the parish sports program proved too much and, once again, he was forced to give up his CYO athletic duties.

His managing days were over, but the aging Ferreira never lost his love for baseball or his desire to work with young athletes. That urge to teach again brought him back to various team benches again. He sat alongside long-time friend Ossie Fredette who managed the Post 1 American Legion baseball team and, for two seasons, Ferreira helped get the Post 1 players in shape while teaching them various aspects of the game. He also found a spot on the bench of Perfection Oil of the City Twilight Baseball League where he sat every summer into the mid-1960s.

When Ferreira officially retired as coach and “trainer,” the Los Angeles Dodgers respected his knowledge of the game enough to add him to their scouting team. He ended his scouting career only after holding similar positions with the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox.

In 1968, more than 350 family members, friends and former players were on hand to honor Ferreira at a Testimonial Dinner at the New Bedford Hotel.

Editor's Note: This is the latest in a 50-day series of Buddy's Best: Coaching Legends, counting down each day from 50 all the way to No. 1. Read the series as it unfolds at SouthCoastToday.com/BuddysBest