Maine Baseball HOF
Cote, Raymond (Buck) (1988)
My baseball career started just before I entered high school. Barrs Field was my playing field, and sliding 1nto home plate became a challenge because I carried my snack in my back pocket — an unwrapped peanut butter sandwich.
I was helped along, as were my brothers Henri and Adrian, by local baseball greats such as Gene Hebert and ‘‘Husky’’ Aube. They were both pitchers in college at that time, and both were having good careers. Hebert pitched for Holy Cross while Aube pitched for Fordham.
I played baseball for three years at Westbrook High School under Paul ‘‘Ginger’’ Frazer, mostly as an outfielder or catcher. While in High school I also played in the Twilight League in the summers. For the next five years I played for John Garner’s Kesar Falls team on summer weekends.
In 1934 Joe Conley got me interested in a different aspect of the game of baseball — that of the umpire. Joe was the assigner at the time. A few years later, Carroll ‘The Eye’’ Rines became the assigner, and we talked about forming an umpire’s board to recruit new umpires. That board became very effective because we would hold clinics to make us better umpires. My umpiring career spanned 44 years — umpiring college and high school games, American Legion, Babe Ruth, and Little League. After that many years as an umpire shutting out the screams of the spectators, it was quite easy to say, ‘I’m not deaf, I’m just ignoring you.”’ One of the highlights of my umpiring career was being behind the plate with my son Ronald also behind the plate as the catcher for Cheverus High School.
When Little League came into existence, we umpired the games for no charge in order to help baseball. I got
interested in coaching Little League when Jack Flaherty asked for my help. At that time the League consisted of Portland, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, and South Portland. The first All Star Team of that League went to Williamsport and lost in the final game.
Later each city started their own league. I was asked to take over as coach when Bob Pratt quit. That began my twenty year career as coach of the Westbrook Kiwanis.
Two of my own sons played for that team. My son Marc joined the team as mascot at age 2-1/2. Over the next ten years he graduated first to batboy and then to shortstop and my older son Paul preferred individual sports and specialized in swimming and skiing.
In 1959 S.D. Warren gave away the plot of land which included the Little League Field for the purposes of building the Westbrook Community Hospital. Now the Westbrook Little League was left without a playing field. Consequently I spent all that fall and winter bugging Rudy Greep, the S.D. Warren mill manager, to let us have the plot of land on East Bridge Street. In the spring, S.D. Warren gave us the land, which is the field we now have, and I spent all that summer getting the field ready with the help of Ovide ‘‘Pattou’’ Aube, Husky’s older brother. Pattou was a mill supervisor in charge of bulldozers. The field needed a fence, so for half the year we used a snow fence. I then got help from Paul Flaherty, who started contacting the ‘‘right’’ people. One day he called me and said that we would get a four foot wooden fence, but I would have to get the people to put it up. My brother Henri told me that the telephone company would dig the post holes if they could get publicity for it. WGAN promised to cover it for us.
Soon the fence began to give way. I went back to Pattou Aube. S.D. Warren was installing wire fencing around the mill, so Pattou got us the wire fence and the same group installed it. Blue Rock Quarry built the dugouts for us. I was so busy that summer that my wife was ready to throw me out. You can understand why! Building this Little League playing field was one of the reasons that I was chosen to receive the Sills Award in 1961. My whole family and I went to Bangor to accept that award.
I had very good Little League teams because I was the only coach who would have three practices a week. | would teach the fundamentals of hitting and pitching and bunting. I was pleased to have four of my Little Leaguers chosen for All Telegram, and some for All State, too.
I also made it a point each season to personally deliver the uniform to each of my players. It not only gave me personal contact with the young boy’s parents and family, but also gave me some insights into each boy’s feelings and actions.
I am pleased to see that some of my Little Leaguers are now coaches themselves. I have always enjoyed working with young people. They sure can try your patience sometimes, But I know how kids can be — I was one once.
I never expected to be chosen for an inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. It is the highlight of my baseball career.