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Boyce, Larry (2007)

Boyce, Larry (07)

As an aspiring Temple youngster, who eventually became a high school baseball star, a Townie outfielder, and played for Larry Boyce, said recently–and likely spoke for many–”He was my idol, my inspiration, my mentor.”

Boyce loved baseball. He played the game first in South Paris schools and later in the Pine Tree League. Years after he had left South Paris, a Lewiston Sun sportswriter referred to him as a “former Pine Tree luminary.”

His family moved to West Farmington sometime in the 1920s, where he put on a uniform for Mack’s All-Stars, a Farmington-area collection of baseball notables, and barnstormed with them in Franklin and Somerset counties” Bingham, Skowhegan, Madison, Phillips and all the rest. He met a girl in Temple–Marion Hodgkins–and, starting about 1930, established, managed, and played for a ball team there, playing in a small hayfield on the Intervale on Sundays and mid-week, too, as many as forty games per year. He played and managed into the war years, and then, while his younger players took two and three year leaves of absence to wear an army uniform, he served on the Temple Board of Selectman and replaced his drafted brother-in-law clerking in the general store.

Following the war, he reorganized the Temple Townies, built a new field, and became again their player-manager, scheduler, scorekeeper, groundskeeper, fund raiser, and catcher. It was during the post-war period that he had his greatest success. In 1949 at age 46, he took himself out of the Townies lineup and retired to the bench as manager, scorekeeper, and occasional late-inning pinch hitter, his post-war batting average .402 over the four-year span. By 1951, his team had accumulated a post-war record against all comers–Phillips, Strong, Kingfield, Farmington, Madison, South China, Jay and Callahan’s Hard Cider Boys included–of 59 wins and 32 losses. He was the appointed to the Board of Directors of the Yankee Amateur Baseball Congress, and put the Townies in the Lakes Region League to vie for the YABC championships.

He kept the Townies in contention for four years in a league that comprised YABC contender Monmouth, Famingdale, Randolph, and eventually North Anson, Bingham, and Skowhegan, among others. He managed the Lakes Region League all-star team to victory on at least two occasions, once against former Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez, who was fishing in Rangeley and needed, he said, to “limber up” for the upcoming Yankee old-timers’ game in Yankee Stadium.

In the mid-1950s Boyce provided the inspiration for creating the Temple Little League Tigers and was having a field built when, in May 1957, he suffered an untimely death at the age of 52. On opening day in June 1957 Boyce Park was dedicated to the memory of Lawrence Boyce. The Tigers have played there for the past fifty years.

Larry Boyce is remembered as the man who kept baseball alive in Temple, a builder of character, an advocate of sportsmanship, a teacher, a coach, an inspiration. The players and their fans loved him and have never forgotten him. He brought hope to his adopted Temple on Sunday afternoons for twenty-seven years.

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