Dean, Warren (Red) (2001)
The "Dean of Competitiveness” is how Lewiston Sun Journal sports writer Bob McPhee described the intense on-field demeanor of Warren Red Dean. With the posthumous induction of the Greenville native, the Maine Baseball! Hall of Fame adds a man widely admired for both his fire and compassion.
Warren Dean grew up in Greenville, and early on displayed extraordinary precociousness for the game that would soon become his life's passion. At the age of 14, Red was playing town team ball in the Penquis semi-pro league with mostly adult players, including his father Merle. During his senior year, Red captained the football and basketball teams at Greenville High School to state championships.
His snapping fastball attracted the attention of several professional baseball scouts and Red signed a contract with the Milwaukee Braves in 1956. Unfortunately, an injury curtailed the promise of big-league glory and Red returned to Maine, graduating from Farmington State Teachers College (now the University of Maine at Farmington) in 1961.
Upon graduation Red remained in the Farmington area with his wife Jane and young family and embarked on a prolific teaching and coaching career, first at Wilton Academy and later as head of the math department for 27 years at Farmington (later Mt. Blue) High School. Red's gift of inspiration through instruction carried over onto the playing fields as well and he became a highly respected coach in football, basketball, cross-country and baseball, winning an incredible six consecutive Mountain Valley Conference baseball championships during one stretch.
Paralleling the unfolding of a brilliant coaching career was an equally lustrous return to town team ball. With his by now polished mound skills, Dean achieved near-legendary Status playing for the Farmington Flyers of the Pine Tree League.
Red was truly an all-around ballplayer -- a fireballing pitcher, a sure-handed shortstop, a formidable hitter with a lifetime batting average over .360, and always the trademark Dean fire and ferocity. Red also played several seasons with the Dixfield Townies, helping them win three championships.
Chandler Woodcock, a former student of Red's who presided at his funeral in February, evoked the burnished image of Red Dean pumping fastball after fastball through the blazing lights at storied Hippach Field, the unmistakable "thwap” into the catcher's mitt punctuating the warm July night. It was “good old country hardball!” at its best, and few were better suited for that style than Red Dean.
Yet this ferocious competitor was also "the kindest, gentlest man I’ve ever known and an incredibly devoted grandfather,” says his sister Cheri Nelson of Farmingdale. “He valued everybody. Once you knew him, you never lost touch with him. He brought out the best in everybody. He had a great arm but an even greater heart.”
"If Passion drives, let Reason hold the reins,’ wrote Ben Franklin. Reds competitive nature sprang from a deep appreciation of the special bond between athletes competing against one another. He astutely realized that the highest measure of respect you could accord the game as well as your opponent was to play hard all the time. Red often recounted with great admiration the caliber of ballplayers whom he had competed against -- fellow 2001 inductee Johnny Colgan, 2000 Hall of Famer Bitsy Ionta, Toppy Washburn, Vaughn Steadman, John Hoffencker and Arty Taylor among others.
Red's later avocations in life -- skiing, golf and running -- were pursued with the same passionate and competitive enthusiasm that marked his earlier playing days. He was named Maine Runner of the Year by Runner's World Magazine in 1986 and in 1988 he was named Runner of the Year by the Maine Track Club. Red still holds many age-group records for races across Maine and New Hampshire.
The woven thread of family devotion, fiery competitiveness, natural teaching gifts and passionate enthusiasm that made up the fabric of the life of Warren Red’ Dean ended sadly February 7, 2001 while Red was recovering from hip replacement surgery, less than a month after learning he had been selected for induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
To ensure the continuation of the Red Dean legacy, Mt. Blue High School and the Dean family have established a scholarship in his name. With his induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame today, the legacy is assured.