Gino Cappelletti, Versatile Boston Patriots Star, Dies at 89

Cappelletti was one of only three players who were in every one of their team’s games over the life of the A.F.L. — 14 regular-season games in each of 10 seasons. The others were George Blanda, the quarterback and kicker for the Houston Oilers and the Oakland Raiders, and Jim Otto, the Raiders’ center.

Cappelletti retired after 10 seasons in the A.F.L. and one in the N.F.L. with 292 receptions for 4,589 yards and 42 touchdowns, along with 176 field goals, 342 extra points and four two-point conversions.

Credit…Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images

Survivors include his wife, Sandy; three daughters, Gina, Cara and Christina; and 10 grandchildren.

In their first three seasons, the Patriots played their home games at Boston University, at Nickerson Field. They switched to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, in 1963.

“We felt like we were legitimate because it was a major league venue,” Cappelletti told The New York Times in 2012, reflecting on the A.F.L.’s presumed inferiority complex as a long-shot challenger to the N.F.L.

“But,” he acknowledged, “we still had a ways to go.”

To avoid having one team blocking spectators’ view in the low-rising seats along Fenway’s first-base line, both teams’ benches were placed on the same sideline, in front of a temporary grandstand adjoining the left-field wall known as the Green Monster.

“That led to some crazy things,” Cappelletti recalled. “We could wander over near their bench and eavesdrop on their play-calling.”

He told of a game in which the Patriots put that plan into action against the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs:

“I remember Hank Stram calling for screen passes and us yelling to our defense about what was coming.”

Jordan Allen contributed reporting.

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