He may have been the greatest football coach in the history of Fairhaven High School.
That’s what they were saying in the summer of 1926 following the resignation of Eddie Pidgeon who, in just six seasons, managed to transform a stagnant program into a state gridiron power.
Pidgeon arrived in Fairhaven in the fall of 1920. He was 27 years of age and a native of Dorchester, where he attended Rindge Technical High School and later graduated from Bates College in Maine.
He was coaching at Marblehead High School when he accepted the position of physical education and athletic director at Fairhaven, along with the challenge of resurrecting the school’s football program. Despite his age, Pidgeon was known as a taskmaster who commanded respect from his players. Once he had it, a special bond developed between player and coach and together, the mutual admiration society produced a string of positive results.
Although he coached every sport Fairhaven had to offer, Pidgeon enjoyed his greatest successes in football and track.
In just his third season at the helm, his 1922 football team went undefeated. Only a scoreless tie with Durfee and a 7-7 stalemate with East Providence blemished a perfect season — a season that saw the Blues demolish Falmouth in their season-opener 63-0 and allow just two touchdowns and 16 total points over the eight-game (6-0-2) schedule.
The 1923 campaign started badly for the Blues with back-to-back losses to Hope High of Providence (7-0) and Rockland (14-7). But, after holding on for a 7-0 victory over visiting Durfee, the Blues wouldn’t lose another decision until the final game of the 1925 season when Salem cruised to a 20-0 win. In between beating Durfee three games into that 1923 season and the 1925 season-finale loss to the Witches, Pidgeon would lead his teams to a string of 20 victories and a tie. Nine of those wins were produced by the undefeated and untied 1924 squad, which authored four shutouts. But the season most people from that era remembered came the following year, compliments of the team some people still call the greatest in school history.
With graduation having claimed five starters from Pidgeon’s undefeated 1924 squad, the coach plugged the holes with enough talent that managed to mesh with the returning starters to pen what could have been a fairy tale season.
Seven games into the eight-game schedule, the Blues were a perfect 7-0. They won those seven games by an average of 23.6 points and outscored the opposition by a whopping point total of 207-12. Only a win over defending state champion Salem — a team that hadn’t lost a game in two seasons and would later travel to Florida and demolish that state’s high school champion — stood in the way of Fairhaven’s third undefeated season and second perfect record in four years.
But the combination of superior talent and an 85-mile journey took its toll on the Blues, who allowed all 20 points in the first half before playing the powerful Witches even over the last two quarters.
On Dec. 18, a large crowd crammed its way into Town Hall to pay tribute to the latest Fairhaven football powerhouse and the man responsible for putting it together.
A year later, Pidgeon would leave Fairhaven to take a job as physical education director and head football coach at Medford High School. During his tenure there, Pidgeon’s teams consistently ranked among the best in the state and, in 1942, he piloted Medford to a state championship.
Eddie Pidgeon retired in 1958 after serving Medford for more than 30 years. He passed away on July 11, 1965, at the age of 74.
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