ABOUT THE HALL
History of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame
Vern Putney, a Portland Press Herald Sportswriter, was the founder of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Many talks in the Sports office of the Portland Press Herald in the Gannett Building in downtown Portland with John “Magnate" Haley, Carroll Rines, Dick Doyle, Bud Cornish and Roley Wirth during the mid 1960’s led Mr. Putney to have the first Induction ceremony in 1969.
Magnate was a big baseball promoter of games at the old “Bayside Park” in Portland. The Portland Twi-Light league is believed to be one of the oldest Semi-Pro leagues in the County dating back to the early 1900’s. It was not uncommon to have Major League players form a touring team to make extra money. Babe Ruth and Lefty Grove were among the Stars who made appearances at Bayside Park in the 20’and 30’s to play against local All Star Teams . The Press Herald and Evening Express covered league games at Bayside and Deering Oaks. Rines, Doyle, Cornish and Wirth were sportswriters with great interest in Baseball.
Charter members of the Hall are: Del Bissonette, Don Brennan, Jack Coombs, John “Magnate” Haley, James Hassett, William Long, Harry Lord, Fred Parent, Vern Putney, Louis Sockalexis and Clyde Sukeforth.
Vern carried the ball until 1981 when his age and health curtailed his energy. He was inducted into the Hall in 1984.
The Portland Sea Dogs Double A baseball teams invites the newly elected members, as guests and introduces them on the field on the Saturday night game before the Sunday Induction Ceremony.. They also have the entire list of members listed on a wall in the function room at Hadlock Field.
Sonny Noel became the Director and General Chairman in 1981 until his death in 2012.
Donald Douglas a 1991 Inductee, who was Sonny’s Assistant, from Westbrook, Manchester Post, Amherst College and the Chicago Cubs farm system became the third Director of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
The traditional date of the Induction Banquet is the first Sunday in August at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland at Noon.
John J.(Magnate) Haley
Wilfred “Sonny” Noel
Sonny was the Director and General Chairman of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame from1981 to his death in 2012. He was inducted in !980. Sonny played Baseball at Portland High school for Jimmy Fitzpatrick from where he graduated three months before joining the military in 1943. He was a decorated soldier with two Purple Hearts, Silver and Bronze Stars from tours with the 101st Airborne Division in the Battle of the Bulge and Battle of the Bastogne.
Upon his return to civilian life he was employed by the U.S. Postal Service and did most of his work on a rural route in the Stroutwater section of Portland.. He coached the Andrews Post #17 baseball team for a decade which was stocked with
Portland High players. His highlight was winning the State Championship with future major leaguer Dick Joyce in 1960. He shortly turned to Umpiring fulltime and quickly became a top notch umpire doing State Championship games in High school and Legion baseball games. This led him to the college scene in New England and eventually to be the College World Series as Umpire –in-Chief..
He incorporated new ideas into the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. .He moved it from the Italian Heritage Center to the larger Holiday Inn by the bay in Portland.
He started a President’s award to deserving people and Teams.. He also started Scholarship Awards for High School Senior Baseball and Softball Players in memory of Packy McFarland and his first wife Marie. He also played the Guitar and Harmonica
at the Induction Banquets. He was so proud to spearhead the Induction of the 41st President George Bush into the Hall in 1994.He played for the Kennebunk Collegians in the summer college league in 1946 as first baseman out of Yale University..He enjoyed informing Inductees, on Christmas eve, of their election to the Baseball Hall.of Fame.
He also made arrangements with the Portland Sea Dogs double A baseball teams to invite the newly elected members and introduces them on the field at the Saturday night game before the Sunday Induction Ceremony.. They also have the entire list of members listed on a wall in the function room at Hadlock Field.
A Yankee fan with a deep Christian religious faith from his boyhood bringing up by his Mother and Father. He will be remembered for more than presenting a bouquet of flowers at the Hall of Fame Banquet to the oldest person in attendance. His love , passion and promotion of the game of baseball and the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. will be his legacy and trademark..
Please send any questions, ideas or photographs for inclusion to site to the following address. Thanks!
271 Park Ave, Portland, ME 04102