Cheney, Hal (2001)
Harold G. “Hal” Cheney was born July 22, 1914 in the summer when ever-darkening clouds forecast the approaching storm of World War ft.
A native of Easton, Cheney matured in a period when Aroostook County reflected America's passion for baseball. Nearly every town had a semi-pro team. The team and its players symbolized the community s pride and reinforced the resolute individualism of rural Maine.
After graduating from Presque Isle High School in 1933, Cheney attended Ricker College and Presque Isle Normal School. From 1946 until his retirement in 1965 he operated a farm in Presque Isle. He moved to Fort Fairfield in 1969 where he died October 3, 1993.
His friend, Walter M. Reed, Jr., remembers Cheney as "The best baseball pitcher ever developed in Aroostook County. Harold was a very shy and quiet individual. However, his determination and graceful skills combined with a fierce competitive spirit helped him excel in basketball, football and baseball.”
Cheney's potential was honed by Elmer "Spike" Williams, coach of the Presque Isle Junior Legion team. In 1930, Cheney compiled a record of 9-2, both losses coming in extra innings.
Caribou beat him 5-4 in 10 innings for the county championship and Eastport won 9-8 in 11 innings. Most batters had difficulty with Cheney's repertoire. He struck out 114 in 86 innings and was a superior batter, compiling an average of .344.
Cheney was a member of Presque Isle's state championship basketball team in 1932. The same year, he led the Wildcats to the county title. In 1933, he began his semi-pro career with the Presque Isle Indians and a year later was named the team's most valuable player.
Among the highlights of that season, the big right-hander pitched a 15-inning, five-hit win against Fort Fairfield. After the eighth inning, Cheney allowed no hits. He also pitched a four-hitter against Mars Hill, a two-hit shutout against Easton and a three-hitter against Caribou.
In his prime, Cheney was six-foot-two, weighed about 200 pounds and featured an intimidating fastball. Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1937, Cheney played in the organization as a relief pitcher until 1943, making stops in Hazelton, Pa, Clarksdale, Miss., Rocky Mount, N.C., Sunbury, Pa.and Hagerstown, Md. He went on to pitch six additional seasons in the Aroostook League, concluding his playing days in 1948.
“In the 1940's when people in “The County" talked about baseball, Hal Cheney's name always came up as the greatest pitcher ever, said Richard “Dick" Cormier (MBHEF-19972).
When he returned from the Boston Red Sox farm system in 1943 he helped organize the Babe Ruth League in Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield.