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  • Writer's pictureMaine Baseball HOF

Fitzpatrick, James J. (Fitzy) (1974)

South Portland resident Fitzpatrick, a native of Meriden Conn., started a long Maine baseball association when he joined Portland Highs faculty in 1921. A southpaw, Fitzy pitched in East Millinocket, the Bangor Brewer area and the Coast League. He retired as Portland High coach who logged. 45 years of sports service to the school.

From Society for American Baseball Research

Fitzpatrick, a native of Meriden, Connecticut, was a remarkable athlete who lettered in four varsity sports at Boston College: baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. He played center and guard for the basketball team, and goalie for the hockey team. Fitzpatrick had a punting average of 65 yards per kick, and in his sophomore year he faced the legendary Jim Thorpe in a punting competition in Canton, Ohio. “I don’t really remember if he beat me or I beat him. I know we got off some pretty good shots,” Fitzpatrick recalled. Fitzpatrick’s football career ended when he broke a shoulder in 1920.

After graduation from BC in 1921, Fitzpatrick joined the faculty at Portland High School, where he remained until he retired in 1966. He stayed active as a player in semipro baseball, and once faced Babe Ruth at Bayside Park in Portland. Ruth had come to Portland to do batting exhibitions. “I pitched the whole game,” Fitzpatrick recalled. “Ruth popped twice to the infield and the other two times, I struck him out, and when Babe didn’t speak to me after the game I knew he was mad and I was some shook up.”

Fitzpatrick coached the Portland High School football, baseball, basketball, and golf teams. In 1947 he became the athletic director, a post he held until he retired. He was inducted into the Boston College Hall of Fame in 1970. The Fitzpatrick Trophy, nicknamed the “Fitzy,” recognizes the best high-school football players in Maine each year.

From Maine Irish Heritage Trail

Fitzpatrick Stadium Portland Maine

Fitzpatrick Stadium, home playing field to generations of football players and their fans, was named for Connecticut native James J. “Jimmy” Fitzpatrick, a 1921 graduate of Boston College. Together with the Expo, Hadlock Field (home to the Portland Seadogs baseball team), and the Portland Ice Arena, the stadium is a part of a large sports complex.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick was an outstanding football player at Boston College; his exploits on the field became legendary as he drop-kicked the ball to countless wins over Ivy Leaguers such as Harvard and Yale. After graduation, he became a coach and teacher at Portland High School and did not leave until his retirement 45 years later. Fitzy brought the Bulldogs’ football, basketball, and baseball teams to many championships over the years. His 1923 football team was undefeated and unscored upon. His coached his last team during the 1946-1947 season.

Fitzpatrick was named to the all-time Boston College football team in 1965. He spent the last twenty-two years of his career as Portland High School’s athletic director. In 1971, in recognition of his service to the school, a Fitzpatrick Trophy was created, which is awarded annually to the best Maine football players in Classes A, B and C. It is known affectionately as the Fitzy.

Jimmy Fitz was also a local semipro baseball player in his younger days and was said to have struck out Babe Ruth twice in a Bayside Park exhibition game. For many years he was a professional golfer and instructor at Larry Rowe’s Golf Course in South Portland and taught golf at PHS. In 1936, with Rowe as instructor at the Purpooduck Country Club, and Fitz at Rowe’s course, the two gave a “terrific shellacking” to their respective links (“Fitzy and Rowe Burn Up Links,” 14 Jun 1936, Portland Sunday Telegram). Lawrence V. “Larry” Rowe was a native of Portland and the son of Canadian Irish parents. He won the Maine Open Golf Tournament in 1937 and operated Larry Rowe’s Golf Course (now the South Portland Municipal) from 1934-1971. He and his brother Raymond were the founding owners of Rowe Ford Sales, still a successful auto dealership in Maine.

Coach Fitzpatrick died in August 1989 at the age of 93. In 2001, one of his former players, John “Giant” Conroy, himself a sports legend, fondly recalled him. “Jimmy Fitzpatrick was a wonderful man. He had good success at Portland and was well-liked by everyone.” A local newspaper staff writer called Fitzy “a class act as an athlete, coach—and a man,” (see “The Man Behind The Trophy,” Tom Chard, 14 Jan 2001, Portland Press Herald).

From Maine HS Football . The Fitzpatrick Trophy

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