Maine Baseball HOF
Baron, Lionel (Lefty) (1987)
Lionel (Lefty) Baron
Baron seldom weighed more than 135 pounds, but he was a giant on the baseball field.
As a diminutive freshman at tiny Berwick Academy, he pitched the York County school to wins over several large schools.
In four strong high school seasons, he struck out from ten to 16 batters in seven-inning games. Summers, he sparkled for area semi-pro teams.
While a sophomore, he was among 30 of 600 hopefuls to survive Red Sox tryouts at Fenway Park. He was the first choice of area clubs about to be visited by the classy New York Colored Giants, New England Hoboes and House of David nines.
He was signed to a Brooklyn Dodger contract by Clyde Sukeforth for $275 a month and sent to Rutland, Vt., of the Northern League.
The coach tagged him as too small, Baron quit and returned home, but club owner Mike Hayden, a 1974 Maine Baseball Hall of Famer, offered Baron an extra $50 to return.
Baron closed the year with a 5-4 record, and the next year posted an 11-4 mark.
‘‘The pint-sized southpaw who found the plate consistently,’’ according to Rutland papers, entered the army the next year. When discharged two years later, the Northern loop had become bankrupt.
He played several more years in the Berwick area. In one memorable game against the Kennebunk Advertisers, with Maine Hall of Famer Tommy Cousens as his opponent, Baron fanned 16 in a seven-inning setto.
Baron posed a problem for his coaches — whether to bat him leadoff because of his speed and bunting ability, or whether to move him to the center of the lineup because of his power and high batting average.
Baron donated much time to volunteer coaching, from Little Leagues to Sanford High.