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Colgan, Louis John (2001)

Colgan, Louis John (01)

Louis Colgan's baseball career is defined by his versatility. A catcher, Colgan was also comfortable at first, second or third.

He was also known by several names including "Johnny" and “Cougar." Bud Leavitt, the legendary sports writer at the "Bangor Daily News,” called him "Joltin' Johnny." Whatever. Colgan could play.

Born March 30, 1923 in Jackman, Colgan attended the Sacred Heart Convent and Jackman High School. Summers were reserved for baseball. He played for the Skowhegan Indians, a semi-pro team in the Pine Tree League.

When Colgan was 15 and 16 years old, his wages for this summer labor were $18 per week, plus room and board. This glorious period didn’t last.

On April 1, 1940, Colgan enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He was there on December 7, 1941 when America was plunged into World War Ll.

While in the service, Colgan played for the Schofield Barracks team, moving through the Hawaiian Islands, taking the field against experienced professionals who were "in for the duration.

Upon his return to Maine in May, 1945, Colgan Joined the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service in Jackman. While working for what was known as the Border Patrol, he resumed his career in local baseball, playing for the Greenville Lakers in the Tri-County League.

During the summer of 1946, Colgan was encouraged to participate in a tryout at Brewer. It was conducted by Clyde Sukeforth, a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers who the year before, had been instrumental in the signing of Jackie Robinson.

He was assigned to the Geneva (New York) Robins, Dodger farm team in the Border League, an organization founded by a Catholic Priest, the Monsignor Harold "Judy" Martin. Colgan's manager at Geneva was Charlie Small.

Colgan injured his hand while catching, but continued to see playing time at first, second and third. He stayed with the Robins in Brooklyn's vast organization for two more seasons, then returned to Maine and the Greenville Lakers.

Hometown teams still commanded major fan interest 1n the years following World War II. Crowds of 2,500 to 3,000 were commonplace. They came to watch homegrown talent.

Colgan's daughter, Cheryl Ramsay, remembers. "Dad was still playing baseball locally when I was a young child. I can vividly remember sitting on the bleachers watching him go up to bat and hearing the crowd roar. [| am sure it 1s that image that is ingrained in my brain and that makes me still get goose bumps when I watch a baseball game.”

At one point in 1948, Colgan had six hits in eight at bats to lift his average to .591 in the Tri-County League. In consecutive years, he hit .439 and 377 but lost the league batting title by one point each season.

Colgan had many multiple-hit games including a five-for-five performance in a 4-3 win against Belfast. When Nick Panella pitched a two-hit shutout against the same team, Colgan recorded 16 putouts at first.

In Greenville's 3-2, 10-inning win against the Bangor A.C., Colgan drove in the winning run. Time of the game? One hour, 55 minutes.

Colgan's most important contribution to baseball, however, is that he always stressed the importance of playing from the heart.

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