Dyer, Jim (2011)
Jim Dyer was a sports legend in Aroostook County, well known for his baseball exploits in the semi-pro Aroostook League and Maine-New Brunswick League in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.
Dyer’s athletic career did not begin in Presque Isle. He developed his multiple sport skills at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft where he starred in four sports: football, basketball, baseball and track. He earned a total of 14 letters while at Foxcroft Academy, including two his freshman year in football and basketball, and four in each of his next three years. Foxcroft Academy sports historians place Jim Dyer near the top of the list as the best overall athlete ever to don the maroon and white. Teammates remembered him for his intense desire to excel and win, his natural athletic ability and his sportsmanship. From Foxcroft Academy he went to Bowdoin College where he was very successful in football and baseball, and also captained the first semi-official basketball team at Bowdoin during the 1941-42 season. Jim won six letters for the Polar Bears from 1938-42 and was regarded as one of the best athletes to ever perform at Bowdoin.
In the summer of 1940 Dyer was named to the Unites States team in the World Series of Amateur Baseball, joining eight other countries in Cuba. He was stellar in the outfield and behind the plate for the American team, which was beaten by Cuba in the finals of the tournament.
After graduating from Bowdoin he served three and one-half years with the 1269 combat engineers. He was discharged from the service in November of 1945. Upon his discharge he was offered a contract to sign with the Cincinnati organization but turned it down. Minor league players were not paid a great deal at that time. After a summer of baseball in Dover in the Tri-County League in 1947, Jim accepted a position as a math instructor at Presque Isle High School. In the summer of 1948 he joined the Presque Isle Indians in the Northern Aroostook League.
While playing for the Indians in 1948, Dyer was one of the leading offensive players in the league. He helped lead his team to the Northern Aroostook League crown, and a win over the Oakfield Oakies, the Southern Aroostook League Champions, gave them the County Championship. In the championship game he had four hits in five at bats. Dyer was named the Most Valuable Player for the 1948 season and selected to the All-Star Team. The team finished with 40 wins and 17 losses. He also was selected to play against the Birdie Tebbetts major league all-star team, a game in which he delivered a triple and single against major league pitching.
During the 1949 season Dyer played the outfield and managed the Indians. During the season he boasted a .353 average, collecting 87 hits and scoring 54 runs. He was selected to the league All-Star team and also the All-Star team which played the Birdie Tebbetts Major League All-Stars.
The 1950 campaign saw Dyer off to a quick start. When the Indians faltered at the outset of the season and manager Dick Desmond resigned, he accepted the managing duties once again. Dyer piloted the Indians to the regular season Maine-New Brunswick League championship and a 33-18 record. In the championship play-off, the Indians won seven of eight games.
Again in 1951 Dyer began the season as player/manager of the Indians. In the first six games he was pounding the ball at a .385 clip, with ten hits in twenty-six trips to the plate and being considered as an all-star selection. However, the recurrence of an old ankle injury forced him out of the line-up. The locals got off to a slow start, with many players coming and going. Dyer was later removed from his position as player coach before signing with the Houlton Collegians. He was ready to return to the outfield and continued his torrid hitting at a .354 clip. His fine play helped lead the Collegians into the play-offs.
In three of his four years with the locals, Dyer hit better than .350. Among baseball observers, Jim was generally regarded as one of the greatest outfielders in Aroostook’s colorful baseball history. When his playing days concluded, he continued to be active in baseball, umpiring, and running baseball instruction programs for the Presque Isle Recreation Department.
In 1958 Dyer became coach of the Presque Isle High School varsity baseball team. He coached 15 years with his teams never finishing lower than second in 13 of those years. His Wildcats won five Aroostook League Championships in 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1972; titles were shared in 1968 and 1971. His high school baseball teams accumulated a record of 124-45. From 1950-68 Dyer was also considered one of the best basketball officials in Eastern Maine.
Jim Dyer has been inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, Maine Sports Legends Hall of Fame and now the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. The Presque Isle High School baseball field was named the James E. Dyer Memorial Field in Jim’s honor.