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  • Writer's pictureMaine Baseball HOF

Butterfield, Jack (1980)

Butterfield, Jack (80)

Butterfield grew up in Westborough, Massachusetts and played college baseball for Maine in the early 1950s and later was the head coach at Maine and South Florida.

Butterfield's coaching career began at Maine in 1956, when he assisted head coach Walter Anderson and coached the school's junior varsity team. For the 1957 season, Butterfield was named the head coach. He held the position from 1957–1974 and compiled an overall record of 240-169-2.

Maine's best season under Butterfield was 1964, when the team went 21-8 and won the Yankee Conference outright to qualify for the program's first NCAA Tournament. In the best-of-three District 1 Regional held in Boston, Maine swept Northeastern in two games to advance to the College World Series. There, Maine won its opening game against Seton Hall, 5-1, before dropping its second to Minnesota, 12-0. In the loser's bracket, the Black Bears defeated Arizona State and USC but were eliminated by Missouri and finished third.[2] Butterfield was named NCAA Coach of the Year, and Joe Ferris was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.[5]

In Butterfield's 17 seasons at Maine, the team won eight Maine State Series (a competition between Maine, Bowdoin, Colby, and Bates) and shared three other Yankee Conference titles, but did not qualify for another NCAA Tournament.[2]

Butterfield's players at Maine included Major Leaguers John Cumberland and Bert Roberge, college head coach Jack Leggett, baseball executive Bill Livesey, and New York Yankees manager Carl "Stump" Merrill. Butterfield coined Merrill's nickname during his freshman season in 1963.

In 1976, Butterfield left USF at the request of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to become a scout for New York. The following year, he was named the organization's Director of Player Development and Scouting, a position he served in for the next three seasons.

Early on November 16, 1979, Butterfield was killed in a car crash in Paramus, New Jersey. Steinbrenner said of his death: "The magnitude of our loss cannot be expressed in words. He was the epitome of what you'd look for in a teacher of young men."

Butterfield's son, Brian, played for him at Maine for one season and is currently a Major League Baseball coach for the Chicago Cubs. Brian has also spent time as a coach with the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox and in the Yankees and Diamondbacks minor league systems.[14][15][16] Butterfield's brother, Jim, assisted him at Maine from 1957–1959 and later became the head football coach at Ithaca. Jim was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

Following Butterfield's death in 1979, two awards were named for him. At Maine, the Jack Butterfield Memorial Scholarship is given to baseball players who "have demonstrated academic proficiency, athletic leadership and the high ideals and standards" of Butterfield. Past recipients include Major Leaguers Mike Bordick, Mark Sweeney, Bill Swift, and Larry Thomas.[18] Also, the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) gives the Jack Butterfield Award to a coach who exhibits "integrity and dedication to the game." Past recipients include Maine's John Winkin, Vermont's Bill Currier, and Northeastern's Neil McPhee.

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