Berthiaume, Gerry (2015)
“Baseball has played a huge part in my life. But, if it weren’t for the people who took the time and effort to guide me during my baseball career, on and off the field, this induction would probably not have happened. It is with the utmost sincerity that I thank everyone, including the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame Committee, for bestowing this incredible honor on me.”
- Gerry Berthiaume
Gerry was an all-around athlete, had great talent and truly loved to play the game. He had fun and made it fun for others as well; he was a pleasure to have as a teammate and friend.
- Al BEAN
Gerry Berthiaume was born on September 9, 1955 and raised in Biddeford, Maine. He began his baseball career watching his Dad coach his older brother Paul. After each game Gerry could be found running the bases. At a young age he was a student of the game.
Gerry attended St. Louis High School, but the school closed in the spring of 1970. Gerry then attended and graduated from Biddeford High School in 1973.
He played three years of Varsity Baseball under legendary baseball coach Art Descoteaux and his assistant Jim Maguire at BHS and was named co-captain his senior year. Although he played well as an outfielder, pitcher and first baseman, he never achieved All-State status. However, his one big moment came in the spring of 1973 when he pitched the Tigers to a 6-4 victory over the soon to be Telegram League champion powerhouse Deering HS Rams of Portland. He struck out Garry Smith in the top of the ninth inning with two on and one out with the score 6-4. Smith was a highly sought after high school baseball player (who went on to play in the New York Yankees minor league system) and there were a number of Major League scouts in attendance to watch him play. Gerry then proceeded to induce the next batter to hit a ground ball back to the mound and Gerry flipped the ball to the first baseman in what was to be his finest victory as a pitcher. NOTE: Games back then were 9 innings long and Gerry went the distance in this game.
After graduation Gerry drove to the Gorham campus of the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham to visit the baseball coach, Joey Bouchard. It was an unplanned visit as Gerry was trying to find a way to play baseball at the next level…college. Coach Bouchard was in his office and was somewhat surprised by Gerry’s visit. Gerry asked him if there was a chance for him to play baseball at UMPG. Bouchard’s response was “Are you that lefty from Biddeford?” When Gerry replied yes, Bouchard said “Welcome aboard”!!
His first year playing college baseball was a disaster. Gerry hit .239 for a team that went 5-13. But something happened in the summer of 1974 that would change Gerry’s outlook on the game. He attended a Cincinnati Reds tryout camp in Cape Elizabeth, Maine and the regional scout, Porter Blinn, who conducted the camp, took a liking to Gerry immediately. Gerry was the talk of the camp and was told by Blinn that he would be watching Gerry’s college baseball career and told him that if he worked hard things would begin to change.
And change they did. Berthiaume worked tirelessly every day following the tryout camp; hitting, running, throwing and getting himself in shape for the upcoming spring 1975 UMPG baseball season. When all was said and done Berthiaume hit .362, had 2 home runs and 25 RBI’s for a team that barely missed the Regional Playoffs. He was named the MVP of the team and was also named All NAIA District 5 Outfielder. The hard work had paid off.
He received a call from Porter Blinn following his stellar season and was signed as a free agent by the Reds and reported to the Class A Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League in Billings, Montana. One of his teammates was Larry Rothschild, the current pitching coach of the NY Yankees.
Unfortunately Gerry suffered two injuries that summer while playing, which cut his playing time short but he still managed to hit .293 for the season. He got off to an unbelievable start in Spring Training in 1976 going 4-4 in his first two games of the spring and was looking forward to heading to Tampa, Florida for his assignment. However, on April 7, 1976 Gerry was released by the Reds, the final day of Spring Training.
After his return to Biddeford, Gerry was named the junior varsity baseball coach at Biddeford High School and coached under the direction of Art Descoteaux and Jim Maguire in the spring of 1978. After one of his junior varsity baseball games, Dr. Neil Serpico, the head baseball coach at Division 1 West Chester University of Pennsylvania approached Gerry with an offer he could not refuse; go back to college and attend West Chester University and join Dr. Serpico and his coaching staff on the baseball team. Gerry enrolled in the fall of 1978 at West Chester where he received his BS in Health and Physical Education in 1981 and received a “baseball education” from Dr. Serpico.
Upon graduating in December of 1981, Gerry took the Amtrak train from Philadelphia, PA to Hollywood, Florida where the annual “Baseball Winter Meetings” were taking place. There Berthiaume met Joe Buzas who owned Minor League teams in Reading, PA, North Carolina and Bristol, CT. Gerry met with the GM from the Bristol Red Sox club and was asked to join the team in the winter of 1982 as the team’s Business Manager. He was officially back in professional baseball.
The team moved to New Britain, CT in 1983, won an Eastern League Championship that year with pitcher Roger Clemens winning the deciding game on September 10, 1983. Gerry was then named General Manager of the team in January 1984 a position he would hold for the next 15 years with the New Britain Red Sox and New Britain Rock Cats of the Eastern league. The team would change affiliation in 1994 from the Red Sox to the Minnesota Twins and then moved from Beehive Field to a new $15 million dollar New Britain Stadium in 1995. In August of 1997, the parent club Minnesota Twins played an exhibition game against the Rock Cats at New Britain Stadium to a packed house, arguably the most defining moment in Gerry’s GM career.
The team was sold after the 1999 season. Gerry turned down an opportunity to become the General Manager of the Salt Lake Buzz in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Triple A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins to pursue other business opportunities.
In his years with the Sox and Twins Gerry was able to see a number of players go on to play in the Major Leagues. Namely; Roger Clemens, Steve Lyons, Mo Vaughn, John Valentin, Jeff Plympton, Ellis Burks, Jeff Bagwell, Torii Hunter and David Ortiz. His managers included; Butch Hobson, Gary Allenson and John Russell. One of the more famous visiting managers included Buck Showalter.
Gerry is a Lifetime Member of the Association of Professional Ballplayers of America. He was inducted into the University of Southern Maine Hall of Fame in 1993. His glove and bat that he used in Billings, Montana are on display in the HOF room.
On another baseball note, Gerry played a major role in donating a catcher’s mitt that was found in Belgium in 1944 by an American GI who found the glove during WWII. That catcher’s mitt is now a part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame WWII American baseball collection as Gerry and the GI’s son, Ted Pisk personally handed over the catcher’s mitt in a ceremony in Cooperstown, NY in November 2009. (There’s way more to this story).
Active in community service, Gerry was named the 1998 “Rotarian of the Year” by the New Britain-Berlin Rotary club. Gerry served as President of the club during the 2003-2004 year and was also named a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest honor for a Rotary member. A member of the New Britain-Berlin Rotary club since 1991, he founded the club’s annual golf tournament and still serves as its’ treasurer.
University of Southern Maine Athletic Director, Al Bean remembers playing with Gerry Berthiaume; “I was fortunate to play with Gerry Berthiaume for two years at USM as we were beginning to build the baseball program under Dusty Drew in the 1970s. Gerry was a very good athlete and had outstanding baseball skills. He was a line drive hitter with a very quick bat, had excellent speed on the bases and in the outfield and was exceptional defensively. Gerry also possessed one of the strongest and most accurate throwing arms I have seen, even to this day. He also took the mound whenever needed and was a tough southpaw with very good stuff. Gerry was an all-around athlete, had great talent and truly loved to play the game. He had fun and made it fun for others as well; he was a pleasure to have as a teammate and friend. In addition, it was very exciting when his son, Jordan, came to USM and was a catcher for the Huskies a few years ago. I’m very pleased that Gerry is being inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame; he is certainly most deserving of this honor.”
Gerry is married to Jenny (Mathieu) (33 years) and they have two sons; Joe, who resides in Portland, Maine and Jordan who recently moved back to work in Connecticut.