Baumer, Bob (2011)
When the doors of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame swing open today to welcome Bob Baumer, he’ll be joining three Lisbon Falls and Roberts 88’ers teammates – Stan Doughty, Marty Roop and George Ferguson – who have all been inducted in recent years.
After graduating from Lisbon High School in 1954, Baumer was offered a scholarship to pitch for powerful Rollins College, which was located in Florida. Not wanting to attend school so far from home, nor spend a year at a prep school such as Bridgton Academy, Baumer opted to stay in town and began working for Morse Brothers Oil, a local heating fuels distributor.
Pitching for the Lisbon Falls Merchants from 1954-1959, he helped them wage battle in the competitive Lakes Region League against the likes of Winthrop, Richmond and Randolph AC, the strongest clubs in that loop. In 1956, Baumer was added to the Randolph roster as a post-season play-off pick up. He was instrumental in Randolph’s post-season success, as the team claimed the YABC crown and journeyed to Battle Creek, Michigan, to take part in the National Amateur Baseball World Series.
Like most young men of this era, Baumer fulfilled his military requirement with a year spent abroad in 1960, stationed in Europe. While in the service, Baumer was a member of one of the stronger service teams that consisted of college players, professionals, and talented amateur players.
Baumer returned home to Lisbon Falls in 1961 to find that there was no town team available, but landed a spot on the roster of the Orleans Cardinals in the powerful Cape Cod League and spent that summer honing his pitching skills against some fast collegiate competition.
In 1962, Baumer once more found himself lacking a hometown team, so this time he ventured up the road to pitch for the Auburn Asas, before baseball made its triumphant return to the town for the 1963 season. With the revival of the team in Lisbon, Baumer once again found himself able to represent his hometown in baseball battles against surrounding communities.
In 1964, Noyes Lawrence, the owner of Roberts Pharmacy on Main Street in Lisbon, offered to buy new uniforms for the team. Since the pharmacy had been founded by Lawrence’s grandfather, George Roberts, in 1888, Lawrence suggested naming the team, the Roberts 88’ers. The idea was met with enthusiastic support so the Lisbon Falls 1964 entrant in the Andy County League would now be known as the Roberts 88’ers, a name that would resonate in Lisbon proper for decades to come.
Baumer was joined on the 88’ers by Stan Doughty, Marty Roop, Herbie Whitman, Dick Pohle, Dave Begos, and later, George Ferguson. The Lisbon Falls contingent was one of the pre-eminent town teams in Maine from the mid 1960’s into the early 1970’s. During a span from 1963 to 1970, Baumer won 85 games and lost only 19, a winning percentage of .817, and as dominating a stretch of pitching any town team or semi-pro pitcher in Maine has had in any era. This was during a period when the 88’ers were playing in the tough Andy Valley League against teams like Stubby Truman’s Norway Paris club, as well as the Auburn Asas and always tough Turner Townies. Bob’s most dominating season was 1965 when he compiled a 14-0 record, leading the 88’ers to a 21-3 record that summer, one of their best seasons during their decade-long dominance in the 1960s. That summer, Bob’s ERA was a stingy 1.31.
In addition to pitching and running the 88’ers, Bob was active in the formation of the Lisbon Junior Athletic League in the early 70s. On many evenings when Bob wasn’t playing himself, he’d be behind the plate, umpiring a Little League game for Lisbon’s future high school and town team players, helping to maintain the strong legacy of baseball in the town of Lisbon.
Bob’s lofty standing in the Lisbon Falls community is illustrated by this quote from his niece Julie-Ann: “To we kids, growing up in Lisbon Falls, he was our guardian angel, riding high above the street in his oil truck and wagging his index finger to remind us to stay on the straight and narrow path. It was hard to be a delinquent in Lisbon Falls when you knew the oil truck might be just around the corner. Even today, when I am in Lisbon Falls, if I stay in one place long enough, I can be sure that Bob will show up.”
Today, Bob can ride a little higher in that oil truck and proudly wave his Maine Baseball Hall of Fame hat.
(Excerpts from this article were taken from When Towns Had Teams, with the permission of the author.)