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Doyle, Bobby (2011)

Doyle, Bobby (11)

Growing up on Walnut Hill Road in North Yarmouth, halfway between Westcustogo Grange Hall and the Congregational Church, Bobby Doyle, one of eight children born to Stan and Betty Doyle, was part of that generation that spent all day long, all summer long, playing pick-up baseball, roaming the neighborhood, taping up bats and balls, keeping the ball games going from sun-up to sundown. The games might take place at Libby’s field, right next door to Ronnie’s Auto Body, or on the ballfield behind North Yarmouth Memorial School. The venue didn’t matter, playing baseball did, often with cracked bats rescued from a Yarmouth Townies game and carefully restored with a screw and electrician’s tape.

Bobby’s first taste of organized baseball was in 1959 with the Westcustogo Grange sponsored North Yarmouth Little League.

Coached by Don Smith and sweetened by frequent post-game trips to the Dairy Joy in Yarmouth, Bobby’s early prowess both as a pitcher and hitter became readily apparent.

Bobby entered Greely High School in the fall of 1965 and embarked on a glittering career during one of the golden eras of Ranger baseball history. A standout pitcher and outfielder, Bobby led Greely to a Triple-C championship in 1969, a year in which the Rangers gave up only 1.72 runs per game. The bellwether of that stingy pitching staff was Bobby Doyle who pitched a nine-inning no-hitter against Freeport and followed it up with a near-miss against Scarborough, allowing only a base hit with two outs in the ninth. His 17 2/3 inning stint of no-hit baseball is a record that may never be equaled.

Bobby bested his Triple-C rival, Peter Dresser, in posting a 4-hit win over Cape Elizabeth in the league championship game that spring and, in a memorable schoolboy finale, twirled 13 masterful innings, striking out 20, in the sectional championship against York that ended in a 1 – 1 tie called for darkness.

Bobby accumulated 22 pitching wins over his 4 year career at Greely and was honored as one of five inaugural inductees to the Greely Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Bobby attended SMVTI and pitched the South Portland technical college to the State Technical Series Title in 1970 and 1971 as well as the Northern New England Small College Conference championship in 1970.

In the summer of 1969, and several years thereafter, Bobby played in the Portland Twilight League for Charlie Turner and the storied Yarmouth Townies. Rick Libby, a teammate from Scarborough recalls Doyle during the early Twilight League years: “Bobby was ready then to play with the big boys. He could throw hard and he could hit the ball. And he had wheels.”

Bobby was recruited by legendary semi-pro impresario Bernal Allen to play for the talent-laden South Portland Merchants in 1972 and followed it up with another stint in 1980. In between Bobby joined his brothers, Arthur, Willie, Pinky and Donny in the Casco Bay League and also immersed himself in umpiring in the various area youth leagues. He helped his brothers coach their Babe Ruth teams and served as league commissioner and regional official for several Babe Ruth organizations.

Bobby’s business acumen was every bit as sharp as his pitching prowess. He operated several successful small businesses in Gorham and naturally became a supporter and promoter of the local youth baseball teams. As his friend Dan Warren often remarked “He never met a raffle ticket he didn’t like.”

In 1993 Bobby was asked by newly-appointed head baseball coach Will Sanborn to join his coaching staff at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Bobby dove into the assignment with his trademark enthusiasm and self-assuredness and soon found his vast baseball experience, intuitive feel for the art of pitching and folksy style was a natural fit for the collegians. Sanborn, on the Doyle influence: “Bobby’s confidence, calm demeanor and maturity lent a veteran presence to the ball club. He had that bulldog mentality that he passed on to the kids but he also took on a mentoring role, almost like a father figure, that the kids saw as genuine and really responded to.”

Bobby served as the St. Joe’s pitching coach for 12 years through 2004 and was lauded not only for imparting invaluable mound guidance but also sprinkling in the kind of “grown-up” advice that comes while hitting an infield fungo or stitching up a glove.

After his untimely death in 2005, St. Joseph’s instituted an award in his name, now given annually to a player who best exemplifies the Doyle ideals. The inscription on the plaque reads as follows: Saint Joseph’s College Baseball, Robert R. Doyle Award

The Robert R. Doyle Award is presented each year in loving memory of long time Saint Joseph’s College Baseball Pitching Coach “Bobby” Doyle. For 12 seasons Robert Doyle served Saint Joseph’s College baseball selflessly and tirelessly. His love of the game and dedication to his pitching staff is legendary among St. Joe’s players. His confident, calm demeanor inspired greatness in his pitching staff. Coach Doyle was much more than a successful pitching coach – he was a mentor and friend to the young men whom he coached. Robert R. Doyle’s contributions to Saint Joseph’s College Baseball will forever be honored with the annual presentation of this award in his name.

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