Corey, Shirley “Slip” (2003)
“Spirited competition on the playing field under the wise direction of coaches can do much for the morale of the whole community and for the development of the manly character of the contestants”.
So reads the inscription on the Kenneth C.M. Sills Award, given to Brewer's Shirley “Slip” Corey honoring him as the outstanding Little League manager in Maine in 1960.
Corey’s entire 36-year Little League coaching career in Brewer embodied the Sills credo. Winner of 11 league championships and three Brewer Little League All-Star state championships, Slip Corey combined irrepressible enthusiasm, fervent devotion to fundamentals, and the rare ability to inspire Brewer's coltish youth. More than the array of honors and trophies garnered over four decades of service, Corey’s legacy was to instill the idea of fair play, sportsmanship and the goal of giving one’s full measure to his youthful Charges.
Corey excelled in three sports at Brewer High School, splitting time between third base and pitching duties for baseball coach Dana Cougherty.
Corey was instrumental in the Witches’ 1938 Bangor Daily News League Championship and state runner up finish that year.
Following his graduation from high school in 1939, Corey married his high school sweetheart, Helen Kealiher, in 1940 served in the U.S.Army, 277th Company Engineers from 1943 - 1945, and began a 27-year career working at Bangor and Aroostook Railroad as manager of its Highway Division.
Slip continued his baseball career in the highly competitive Eastern and Tri-County semi-pro leagues. Slip starred on a 1946 Brewer Jaycees team that beat Dover and Oakland to win the Northern and Eastern League Championship.A newspaper account of the Dover game notes “the capacity crowd of 3,000 odd fans, topping all previous baseball attendance records in eastern Maine that year, were treated to the best game of the season”.
Corey also played for the Brewer Easterns in the Tri-County League, winning that circuit’s championship in 1947, and Brewer A.A. who copped Eastern League honors in 1949.
His sparking semi-pro career notwithstanding, Slip Corey’s enduring legacy will be his unmatched contribution to Little League baseball.A founding gather of the Brewer Little League in 1954, Corey and long-time assistant Bob Debeck devoted countless hours of instruction and encouragement to Brewer’s budding ball players.
“Being a Little League manager is like being a second father to 15 boys for eight weeks”, Corey said in a 1970 interview, “and it’s fun”.
The rare combination of joy in playing a boy’s game and responsibility to teaching higher values was evident in the Corey coaching style.An observer of his practices in 1970 noted:“His technique of coaching is a positive thing.
When his kids are working out, Corey keeps up a steady patter of encouragement around the whole ball-field. Corey may be coaching a budding second baseman in the subtleties of the position while another youngster has batting practice. At the crack of the bat on ball, he’ll look up with a grin and shout ‘Good cut!’”.
Gentle. Wise. Patient. Supportive. Slip Corey was all this and more to hundreds of youthful aspirants during his coaching days.The Maine Baseball Hall of Fame is proud to add his name to the pantheon of coaching icons whose dream was to make it possible for others to dream.
Slip has two children - a daughter Donna Varney and a son Dana Corey.
Helen, his wife of 42 years, passed away last year.