How Cawley Stadium Was Named

When the site of the stadium was still a vacant lot, it acquired the name Merrill Field after Herbert A. Merrill who had once owned the property. In the absence of anything else, the name Merrill Field stuck, at least while the permanent stadium was under construction. Even after the stadium was completed in 1943, the facility continued to be called Merrill Field or Merrill Stadium.

Not everyone agreed with that name. In early 1941, a city councilor made a motion to name the new stadium for the recently deceased Ernest L. Kimball, who had been an excellent athlete and who had been involved in youth athletics later in life. The city council unanimously endorsed this proposal.

This prompted an objection from the Lowell High School Alumni Association, a well-organized and politically powerful group that owned a 15-acre parcel that was integral to the plans for the stadium complex. They insisted the facility be named Lowell Alumni Stadium.

A few months later, the United States entered World War II and the rush to name the stadium receded. Unfortunately, so did the final stages of construction as those in the building trades were in great demand for war-related construction projects. But even though the stadium was mostly completed, the city did not want to take full ownership until all was completed, nor did the stadium construction commission want to hand off the project before it was done.

Then in 1944, a member of the Lowell School committee moved that the stadium be named for Arthur Boyle, a soldier from Lowell who was stationed at Hickam Airfield in Hawaii who was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As the first service member from Lowell to be killed in action in the ongoing World War, many thought that would be an appropriate honor.

But then someone pointed out that a sailor from Lowell, Clifton Edmonds, had also been killed in action at Pearl Harbor. The proposed name was changed from Arthur Francis Boyle Stadium to Boyle-Edmonds Stadium.

By this point in the war, several hundred service members from Lowell had been killed, so there may have been some hesitation to single out just two of them for the name of the stadium. The mother of Arthur Boyle submitted a letter to the Lowell Sun in which she wrote that it would be a great honor for her deceased son to have the stadium named for him, but that everyone who had died in the war was equally deserving of being so honored.

Shortly after this letter appeared, the Lowell High Alumni Association petitioned the city council to name the facility Lowell High School Memorial Stadium. On the floor of the council that evening, Councilor William Geary pointed out that there were thousands of men and women from Lowell serving in the military who had not attended Lowell High School, so he proposed that the field be named Lowell Memorial Stadium. The Alumni Association concurred, and the council unanimously adopted that as the official name of the stadium.

Two decades later, Councilor Edward Early filed a motion to name the stadium for Edward D. Cawley who had recently passed away at age 71. Cawley had been a star athlete at Lowell High School and Colby College who had played for the Philadelphia Athletics professional baseball team. Cawley, who had also served in the U.S. Navy during World War I, returned to Lowell after his pro career and coached the Lowell High football team and helped create the American Legion baseball league in this area. The Cawley family had also owned land near the stadium and had often allowed sports teams to play on their field. The city council unanimously adopted this motion and the stadium became Edward D. Cawley Stadium.

On October 30, 1966, prior to the start of the Lowell High versus Keith Academy football game (which Lowell won, 19 to 7), a ceremony was held on the field dedicating the stadium to Edward D. Cawley. The crowd heard remarks from now Mayor Edward Early, Congressman Brad Morse, Commander Raymond Gendron of American Legion Post 87, and Cawley’s son, Edward J. Cawley, himself an accomplished athlete and a decorated Navy aviator. The Lowell High Band then played the Colby College alma mater song and the football game began.

Cawley Stadium was rededicated in 1997 when Edward D. Cawley was inducted into the Lowell High School Athletic Hall of Fame with the following citation:

EDWARD D. CAWLEY, Class of 1912, Inducted in 1986. His name memorialized on the walls of Edward D. Cawley Stadium in Lowell, Eddie Cawley gained a considerable reputation athletically not only in Lowell but also in the state of Maine, where he starred for Colby College. A three-sport star at Lowell High School from 1909–1912, Eddie stood out in football, track, and baseball for the Red and Gray. He was the leading ground gainer and a top-notch defensive back and Captain of both the football and baseball teams in 1912. Upon graduation from Lowell High School, Eddie, a standout shortstop, joined the Philadelphia Athletics under legendary Manager Connie Mack. After a brief stint in the Major Leagues, he enrolled in Colby College. At Colby, Eddie once again became a multi-sport star, making his greatest impact on the gridiron. A four-year starter for the Mules, Eddie was a legitimate triple threat–passing, running and kicking as a quarterback, halfback, and fullback. Eddie was a standout on the legendary 1914 Colby team and captained the 1915 and 1916 Elevens. He capped off a brilliant career by being named an All-East selection and receiving Honorable Mention on Walter Camp’s All-American Team. Still the leading ground gained and scorer in Colby College history, Eddie was nominated for the National Collegiate Football Hall of Fame in 1959.

Then there is Edward J. Cawley (son of Edward D.). Edward J born 12/25/1929, died 2/7/1997 age 67, buried at St Mary’s Cemetery. Edward Cawley entered Naval service after graduating from Colby College in 1952. He was designated a Naval Aviator and assigned to Patrol Squadron 26 (VP-26) at Naval Air Station Brunswick, ME where he served in the Korean War. His squadron’s primary mission was to patrol the northern Atlantic using the surveillance techniques employed by the P-2V Neptune. LT(JG) Cawley served until December of 1956, when he chose to return home to Lowell, MA, and take over the family business on behalf of his ailing father.  He lived and worked in Lowell until his passing on February 7th, 1997. Ed is survived by his wife Patricia Cawley (Pat), his four children Patricia Foye (Patti), Edward Cawley (Ted), Susan Ryan, Pete Cawley and eight awesome grandchildren. He was a wonderful father, a patriot and a hero to us all.